Differential Strategies

Before we begin on our journey to making your product the next sliced bread, we must get our heads in marketing mode.  We will do a small challenge.

1. Go to your kitchen and take the first ten products you see

2. Line them up and focus on the first one

3. Who makes this product and how is it different from other products like it.

4. Do this for each product and write down why you bought that one instead of the competitor’s product. 

5. As we go through the methods below try and match up the product and reason with one of the methods. (A product can fall into several of the methods below.  Remember that this is the customers/your perceived value.)

The first step in differentiating your product from your competitors is to decided what features makes yours the best.  This can be done by using one of the following methods. 

Form - This refers to shape, size, or other physical quality.  Look at medicine; this can be different by dosage, delivery method, color, or coating.
Features - This is the most common form.  Marketers will usually emphasize a feature that a product already has.  Car companies will use a formula that calculates "customer value" vs. "company cost" to decide what features they will add to a "trim" level.  This can also be thought of as features vs. price.  Remember not to overwhelm your customers with features.  It only takes a few to be different
Customization - Mass customization works by customizing every product to your customer’s needs.  Think Dell
Performance Quality - This requires your products main characteristics to operate at a desired level.  Usually this means "top of the line" type products but can apply to anything if stated properly. 
Conformance Quality - This is the customer’s desire for your entire products to be the exact same, such as a material product.  Think about fabric or raw materials.
Durability - This applies to products that are meant to stand up to a set condition.  Products such as appliances can fall under this category.  Products that become obsolete very quickly are not a good match for this quality because durability is usually measured over long periods of time. 
Reliability - This is not the same as durability.  This is a products failure rate as compared to the industry.  This can be a large premium add on
Reparability - How easily can the product be fixed when it breaks.  An ideal product is one that be easily fixed by the consumer
Style - How the product looks and feels to the user.  Aesthetics can very pleasing to the customer making it feel more valuable than it is. Apple uses this method almost solely. 
Design - This is the total of all the features and their perceived value and cost to the company.  This is the most powerful of all tools and also one of the hardest to master.  In the customers point of view a well-designed product is one that is easy to open, install, repair, use, dispose of, and most of all pleasant to look at. 

Focusing on one or more of these strategies is the best way to become the top new product.  These 10 methods are what Apple, Microsoft, Nissan, Netflix, and Sony use to destroy their competition.