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Avoiding 'Ready, Fire, Aim'

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Ford Kanzler
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Blogger
Re: Product difference built-in
Ford Kanzler   5/1/2013 10:35:03 PM
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Yes, but did the company focus its business communications on this valuable advantage and was that diference unique only to your products? "Built like a tank" comes to mind. Great examples of tag lines connoting the product's difference that you may recognize are:

"There is no other" - Porsche

"Only in a Jeep"

"Engineered like no other car in the world" - Mercedes Benz

(Sorry, I'm a car guy as well as a marketing pro.)  :)

William K.
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Production Synthesizer
Re: Product difference built-in
William K.   5/1/2013 9:34:48 PM
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Because one of our star products was an instrumentation device for measuring impact velocity, one of our claims was that the device would never drift out of calibration because of the way it was constructed. It could fail completely but it would never be inaccurate. And the degree of ruggednes was obvious to anyone who looked at it.

Ford Kanzler
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Blogger
Product difference built-in
Ford Kanzler   5/1/2013 3:30:34 PM
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If rock-solid reliability was uniqe to your products and your competitors' products were known as less than bullet-proof, then yes, I'd say that was a business strategy. (That was the same strategy as Tandem Computer's.) Was there a price premium vs. competitors for this superior reliability? It undoubtedly cost the company more to build with higher durability than competitors. Did the company clearly and consistently communicate its unique durability difference vs. competitors, other than offering the unconditional warrantee, which customers never needed? If so, great! If not the durability strategy wasn't being carried through to marketing and sales.

A product "ingredients" differentiation strategy is only one way of separating a brand from its competitors. In the case William mentions, the key ingredient was durability. There are many other options such as where its made, how its made, what its made of, how long its been made (heritage) or whether ifs the latest/newest (cool factor). The list of differentiation possibiliites is fairly long but must not be a difference already claimed by competitors. Also, a brand's difference doesn't have to directly connected to its product.

Being the cheapest can also work, as Ikea, Costco and Home Depot have demonstrated. But you better have some serious barriers to competitors for that. Those retailers use their sourcing and logistics infrastructure to maintain their dominent positions.

William K.
User Rank
Production Synthesizer
Strategy, what we did.
William K.   5/1/2013 2:54:25 PM
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The stratagy at one employer was one that was quite different, which is that we offered a much longer warranty with almost no limitations. And our response to those who asked how we could afford to do this was that "our product does not fail, so it doesn't cost us anything". Because our equipment was used for production, reliability and uptime were quite critical. But our reliability did make a few converts, and got us lots of repeat customers. That was what separated us from our competition. Would that be called a stratagy? or not?

Ford Kanzler
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Blogger
The strategy vacuum
Ford Kanzler   4/30/2013 1:43:23 PM
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I've worked in and with a lot of companies as well. Strategy fell out of favor at some point with the emphasis being on just doing it, i.e. "if you're busy, you must be accomplishing something useful." Further, there are a lot of places which believe they have a strategy and frankly don't or, that may have a strategy but don't tell the whole company what it is. Its a big managment team secret!

Sales- and sometimes engineering-driven organizations in particular often have a short-term mentality and lack a strategic focus or long-term perspective on how the business will compete and evolve. I try avoiding those kinds of operations...unless invited to help make changes and develop a strategy, which is my key practice area.

FLYINGSCOT
User Rank
Supply Network Guru
reality
FLYINGSCOT   4/30/2013 1:25:29 PM
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I have worked in a few different companies and continue to be shocked at the level of strategic planning that really gets done.  To be top dog it is essential to plan and execute meticulously.  Most companies I know chase very short term opportunistic leads and proper strategy is sorely lacking.  Now since I am part of these companies I guess I should also blame myself here ;-)



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