Marketing Strategy
How to Differentiate Your Product or Service in a Competitive Market

How to Differentiate Your Product or Service in a Competitive Market

December 3, 2020
6 min read

In an ambitious marketing world, it is important for businesses to learn how to differentiate their products and services in order to effectively engage and retain customers.

Companies are constantly adapting to changes in the market and as a result, they adjust what they sell and how they sell it.

Product differentiation is a process used by businesses to distinguish a product or service from other similar ones attainable in the market.

This process is essentially what gives your brand the upper hand. If you can find a way to differentiate your business from the next one that does something similar, you’re already on track for even more success.

Here are 9 credible and sustainable ways your company can differentiate their products in a competitive market:

1. Know Your Audience

Very similar products can sometimes be targeted at vastly different audiences. For example, just look at the Kindle Fire line of tablets by Amazon. The basic product is the same technology. But, while the standard Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD are aimed at an adult audience who want to watch movies, read books, and perhaps do a bit of web browsing on the go, the Kindle Fire Kids Edition is wrapped in brightly colored shock-proof casing and focuses on educational games and other content aimed at children.

Remember, strip these products back to the bare bones and they’re exactly the same, but Amazon knows their audience well enough to adjust their product to fit.

They know lots of kids use tablets, but the parents that buy these tablets have a few issues:

  • Tablets are easily broken due to rough handling by a small child.
  • Children may easily access inappropriate content on a standard tablet.
  • Parents like the convenience and educational opportunities that tablets bring, but still worry about giving their kids too much screen time.
  • Good-quality kids apps and content subscriptions can get expensive.

While the children’s app market is huge, other tablet brands have not achieved Amazon’s success in creating a product designed specifically to speak to the challenges facing parents with young children. By focusing on these problems, Amazon was able to reposition their core product to solve the issues of their customers wanting to buy a tablet for their child.

2. Tell Your Brand Story Over and Over Again

Consumers no longer just care about the brand, product or service they are buying.

They also take into consideration who they are buying the product from, and what that company stands for.

Your brand story is an essential part of building trust with your customers by creating a narrative of your brand.

There are dozens of companies who offer similar products to yours. A brand story makes it easier for clients to connect with you and stay engaged. There are many steps you can take to create your brand story can start with determining your company purpose, understanding who your audience is, and making sure your story is consistent and straightforward.

brand story

As a business owner, being personal and authentic will help you establish a foundation for who you are and what your company’s purpose is. While the history of your company can play a crucial role in your unique brand story, it’s arguably more important why you started the company than how you started it.

3. Emphasize the USPs of Your Offering

Amazon managed to create one of the most popular kids’ tablets by adjusting their standard product in a few simple ways. The unique selling points of the Kindle Kids tablet include:

  • A colorful casing that is attractive to kids, protects the tablet from damage, and doubles up as a stand
  • Two-year worry-free guarantee bundled with the product ­– “if it breaks, return it and we’ll replace it”
  • One year free of unlimited access to kids’ books, apps, and TV shows, $2.99 a month thereafter
  • Allows parents to easily control screen time limits and filter content

Only the addition of the casing is an actual physical change to the product. All the other features of the kids’ tablet are emphasized for marketing purposes (the unlimited kids’ subscription and parental controls are also available on standard tablets).

Amazon is a great example of how it’s important to really understand your audience and their problems and needs, so you can position your product and market it in a way that will get you the best results.

Problem: You don’t want to give your expensive iPad to your child in case he breaks it.

Solution: Buy him a Kindle Fire Kids tablet, and if he breaks it, you can just get a new one for free!

Your USPs need to be strong enough to make you stand out from your competitors. Anyone can compete on price. You need to offer something of real value and back it up with real evidence. For example, there’s no point telling your audience that your products are the best quality. You need to demonstrate that your products are of higher quality than others.

Blendtec’s “Will it Blend?” series on YouTube is a fantastic example of creative content that demonstrates the quality of their products. Think your blender can handle anything? Well, can it blend an iPad?

4. Build Relationships

The first way to build a strong relationship with your customers is to have an unbeatable customer service representative team and to consistently ask your audience for feedback.

It is also important to be friendly, respond promptly, listen to your customers, and know your products.

A positive relationship with your customers will help you ensure their return business and loyalty.

You can also conduct an honest anonymous survey or even use your own social media pages to understand what your customers like or do not like about your products or services. Keep each of these effective examples in mind when you are assessing your customer service process and system.

5. Build Authority and Trust

If you’ve successfully gone through the major steps of understanding your audience, creating a product they need, and positioning that product to emphasize its USPs, you could sit back and wait for the sales to come rolling in.

Or, you could be proactive and use your online presence to build authority and trust with your audience so they’re more likely to buy your product rather than one from your competitors in the future.

Smart businesses use a combination of content marketing, social media marketing, and email marketing to demonstrate their expertise in their industry, position their brand as an authority in their niche, and build trust with their audience prior to becoming paying customers.

Blendtec’s YouTube channel, as mentioned above, is an example of how to cleverly use high-quality, sharable content to build authority. (As well as blending iPads, glow sticks, and diamonds, Blendtec also offers some more traditional recipes.)

Help desk software company Groove explains how content marketing itself was one of their key differentiators. They explain how their blog about their journey as a startup became an important part of their brand and helped to build trust with their readers:

“Through building trust over the long term, our content⁠—and the startup journey brand⁠—became the single biggest driver of growth for our business.”

While Groove wasn’t the first startup to blog about the early days of their business, they made sure they stood out from their competitors by creating content that is interesting, unique, and useful.

6. Pay Attention to Product Size and Packaging

Your business can create a niche for themselves by selling products in different sizes or packaging varieties.

For B2B Marketers this often comes in the form of product and service bundles or monthly recurring packages like our Content Builder Service which includes both product deliverables like content, keywords, and reports, with services like strategy, promotion, and link building.

This differentiation can be quite effective, especially when there is a lot of competition. There are many content marketing agencies out there, but fewer that package their service like ours.

7. Don’t Ignore Influencer Marketing

92% of consumers trust recommendations from individuals above any form of advertising, which is why many companies decide to invest in influencer marketing efforts. Something as simple as a tweet or Instagram story post can make a difference for your product launch if you choose the right influencer to promote your brand.

influencer marketing benefits

Keep in mind that influencers are not celebrities. Influencers are specialists whose followers all have an interest in the same things. Some ways influencers can help your business are that they could write guest posts, share your blog, and post Instagram or Facebook stories using your product.

Consider researching influencer marketing if you are looking to differentiate your brand.

8. Deliver Faster

Clients and customers expect speed, and it is your job as a business to deliver.

Nowadays, speed refers to fast transactions, one-day delivery or immediate customer service. If your business can deliver faster than your competition, it will give you a tremendous advantage.

Speed is the deciding factor for most online shoppers because customers want the purchasing process to be quick and seamless.

If a page takes too long to load or the buying process is too complicated, most buyers will exit and continue to a different site for their purchase.

Whether your company is selling to other businesses or to customers, speed is an important part of the process.

9. Add a Personal Touch

Approximately, one-third of customers seek customizable products. By simply adding a personal touch to your products or services, it can make a big difference.

Personalization can range from thank you notes to your customers, embroidered products, free samples, discounts or including something extra in a package.

For example, a vineyard  that sells custom labeled wine bottles will stand out from a vineyard that sells regular bottles.

A real estate company that sends a personalized congratulations card to new homeowners will build better relationships than one that simply sells a house and moves on.

A B2B company that sends thank you gifts to their clients sporadically will create better connections. Overall, these examples show that personalization in gifts, notes, or thought go a long way, even in the business world.

Need Help with Your Content Marketing?

You might not need to make a single change to your product to differentiate against the rest. Instead, it might be a case of focusing on your content to build trust with your audience and position your brand as an authority in your industry.

If you are ready to get more traffic to your site with quality content that’s consistently published, check out our Content Builder Service. Set up a quick consultation, and I’ll send you a free PDF version of my books. Get started today and generate more traffic and leads for your business!

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Michael Brenner

Michael Brenner is an international keynote speaker, author of "Mean People Suck" and "The Content Formula", and Founder of Marketing Insider Group. Recognized as a Top Content Marketing expert and Digital Marketing Leader, Michael leverages his experience from roles in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as his leadership in leading teams and driving growth for thriving startups. Today, Michael delivers empowering keynotes on marketing and leadership, and facilitates actionable workshops on content marketing strategy. Connect with Michael today.

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