Your Products Don’t Matter – Part 2

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On Monday, I discussed the problems with relying too heavily on a great product in today’s marketplace, and I outlined a couple reasons why your products don’t matter – namely competition and commoditization. If you haven’t read the first part of this post and you’d like to, check out Your Products Don’t Matter Part 1.

To pick up from where I left off: the sad truth is that the products you’ve spent years developing really don’t matter that much. Buyers have changed and so have their preferences. Having the best product on the shelves won’t make you the king of an entire category anymore. So what will? Here are some solutions that can turn a simple product into something everyone has to have.

1. Change buyers’ perceptions. Now more than ever, sales are made by the way you market your product or service, not by the product or service itself. The factor that is more important than your product is the perception of your brand by your customers. Obviously the product counts, and it needs to be good, but the actual product itself only serves to fulfill a promise made to consumers when they form certain perceptions about it.

If you build a brand personality that makes your customers think your products are extremely durable, your products don’t need to be the most durable products available, they just need to fulfill the promise of extreme durability. If you can do that, you’ll make your customers happy, which is really the key to sales and success. Happiness leads to word-of-mouth referrals, social sharing and good old fashioned bragging about how great your product is.

2. Make a unique promise. The promise made is the reason consumers buy what they do. It comprises the very essence of a brand, and it tells a consumer what to expect from the product. When a potential buyer is standing in the aisle of a department store choosing between two commodities, the thing that will make him choose one over the other is the promise. He’ll choose the one that makes him happy or the one that he identifies with. He’ll choose the one that changes the way he feels. So offer a promise to your customers about your products. Promise that they are cool, or smart or helpful – and deliver these things to your customers through your marketing.

3. Provide excellent service. Build a persona for your company that identifies with your consumers. In a world where computers are handling customer service claims, put a real person on the other end of the phone. When competitors are trying to squeeze every penny from their customers, provide something of value to them for free. Keeping a human face on your brand and your products can go a long way in determining brand loyalties. And providing top notch service can win you customers for life. Never underestimate the value of going out of the way to help someone.

If you can deliver on these things to your customer base, everything else, including sales, will take care of itself. Provide your customers more than just a product. Provide them with an image or a culture. Provide them something cool or helpful. Build a personality for your brand, and find a way to differentiate yourself, because when everyone’s products are the same, the one that stands out will be the one worth buying.

To join the conversation, let me know what you think in the comments, or follow me on Twitter @ccross2181.

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