We ended our discussion last time on how difficult it would be to enter the drone market today. The last link I shared in the article was various different drones from CES. Did you think that the examples focused on the need to be differentiating? My own assessment was no, companies were trying a sort of ‘one-up-manship’; be it going smaller, better cameras or cramming lots of features for a rock bottom price. The most interesting of the bunch for me was the one that dived into water as a sort of fishing aid.
So how do we go about differentiating our product? I’d like to first go back to value proposition; for any success we needed our value proposition to be such to increase our brand value. The way i’d go about that is to ensure your marketing and product elicit an emotional response from your customer.
I’ve mentioned ideation and identification many times and fundamentally these ideas are still vital for your differentiation strategy. In a more mature market space however, we need to go one step further. I think this is really about tapping into the user/emotional needs more acutely. We’re at the stage of being totally focused on UX and the customer. We’re beyond simply trying to sell based on product specs. It may even require you to go all the way back to the ideation phase and redesign.
The ideation phase is all about problem solving. In a more mature product you need to be asking a lot more from the consumer about what they want. In a newer product you probably get away a little with a more telling strategy, but now we want a higher level of product to really stand out from the crowd. Best way to do that? Ask the people who buy your product.
What if you do all the above; genuinely have a great product, raise funds and go to manufacture only to find someone has copied you already? This is unfortunately a real danger. There are manufacturers/companies out there (let’s be honest, most likely in Shenzhen), who hire people to trawl Kickstarter and the likes all day to find the latest and greatest thing. They’ll copy and sell it at half the price too. One of my favourite examples is the selfie stick story.
There are a few ways to combat this. One is having an inherent design quality that cannot be copied so easily. Patentable design in an ideal world the holy grail, but there are many ways to circumvent patents. What if you had a proprietary solution that is integral, say a software requirement. Seemingless integration between hardware and software isn’t so easy to replicate and keeps you ahead with a tangible competitive advantage. A topic we will revisit in a dedicated post.
The other way to protect yourself is building up brand value as previously mentioned. We’ll discuss how powerful brand value really is in the next post where we use exploding batteries as a case study (should be able to figure out the details….). Stay tuned and let me know of any thought you have on how to differentiate products!