Today we live in an age of parity products. In most cases, strong competition means that any significant product advantages are quickly mimicked, often duplicated, and sometimes bettered.
REAL PRODUCT BENEFITS ARE VERY HARD TO MAINTAIN.
Think about categories like coffee, laptops, blue jeans, energy drinks, or even something like business management software. It’s extremely difficult to come up with real features that will lift a product or service above the competition. When the iPhone was first introduced, it was unique. But now Android smartphones have essentially eliminated any real product advantages. (In fact, some would say they’re a better choice today.)
THE TROUBLE WITH SEARCH ENGINE MARKETING: EVERYBODY DOES IT.
Here’s another factor to consider: Every brand with a marketing budget devotes a portion of that to SEO and SEM. For many small brands, that’s often the entire marketing spend. Which means they’re paying substantial sums to buy keywords that are most important to the target. But if competitors are paying for the very same words, it becomes an endless spiral. In other words, you’re doing the very same thing as your competition. There’s no differentiation.
BETTER TO BE DIFFERENT.
Tim Ferris – the four-hour marketer – says the following: ‘It’s easier to gain market share by being different vs. marginally better.’ He’s right. The sales funnel begins by being noticed and remembered. If your brand is seen as ‘just another logo in the category’ you’re not going to get anywhere. To succeed you simply have to stand out.
FEAR IS THE HURDLE TO OVERCOME.
So what’s in the way? Why doesn’t every brand do whatever they can to be different? In a word, the answer is: fear. It’s much safer to stick with a formula that’s been used for years. Or the same one competitors are using. And with marketing ideas that won’t ‘ruffle any feathers’. It takes brave management to approve creative executions that will 1) create buzz and 2) be passed around on social networks.
Why is so much content marketing about as exciting as watching paint dry? Because it wasn’t created with the primary goal of being different. Your brand story may not be inherently interesting. That’s why you have to come with a way to tell it that IS interesting.
The old Apple tagline – Think different – wasn’t just a good platform for their brand. It’s also good advice for every CMO. In an age of near-instant product parity, the only way to succeed is to become a brand that stands out. That includes your logo, website, tagline, advertising, content marketing, event marketing, PR… even your blog posts. In other words, everything.
In the marketplace, great ideas win. Especially the ones that make people say ‘Wow, that’s different!’