Posts Tagged ‘differentiation’

Product, Process, and Performance

Saturday, May 2nd, 2009

Recently I had a conversation with a frustrated t shirt screen printer who lamented that he thought he was doing everything right but he just wasn’t making any money. He commented that no matter what he did, his customers seemed to be only interested in the lowest possible price.

What he was observing is something that happens all the time. Companies that focus on product (t shirt printing) and process (screen printing) have no real value in the market. The reason I say this is because there will always be somebody offering the product and service for less money. It’s always been that way and it will continue to be that way. It’s not just our industry, it’s every industry. It is the nature of the quest for the lowest cost producer.

The real issue is that we are in the visual communication market and our media is wearable apparel. This may not seem like much of a difference, but it is a world of difference. It moves us away from the manufacturing or fabrication aspect (which can always be found cheaper somewhere else,) to the marketing and communication aspect. This is were it is more important to have our message delivered in the most relevant and effective way, and to have it stick.

When we start looking at what we do from this perspective it opens up all kinds of new opportunities. This is especially true if we can track or monetize the results of our efforts. This return on our invested efforts makes it possible to uncouple our offering from the direct costs associated to make the product. Think about this. Does someone really care what the t shirt is going to cost if it can be a proven revenue generator for them? In other words, if they spend $10.00 to create $50.00 of new revenue, do you really think they will try and hammer the price down to $4.00 or $5.00 in the hopes of capturing the same business?

The answer initially is yes they will, but it’s only a temporary situation. They quickly discover the difference they’re paying is what enables the new revenue in the first place. When they cut back the purchase to have “just another t shirt” they lose the ability to create the new revenue in the first place. The graphic image (graphic design, art, color separation, etc) is what makes it effective advertising. It’s what differentiates it from every other mediocre printed t shirt that gets lost in the crowd.

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More on Establishing Your Value

Friday, February 6th, 2009

I recently read a post by one of my Facebook friends regarding establishing value:

What is a good way to guarantee high price services (such as graphic design) besides guaranteeing a membership fee?

We agonize over this. A great way to start is to make a list of how many things you do that add value, whether you are currently charging or not. When you are done, put a $$ amount next to each value item. My list has 24 items.

I used to think I worked primarily in a commodity driven industry (printed t shirts.) When all is said and done, our clients will have a much better idea of exactly what we do, how it will benefit them, and what to expect. It also acts to level the field between you and your competition because I guarantee none of your competitors are doing this. If your customers are shopping, you have now given them a comprehensive list for comparison of apples to apples.

Here are some of the things you use to separate yourself from your competition:

    All aspects of your product or service.
    Associated services related to your product or service.
    Payment terms.
    Your Guarantee or Risk Reversal.
    Quality practices (list the steps.)
    Material handling and check-in procedures.
    Your vendor resources.
    Overall resources (machines, building, space, etc.)
    Reputation.
    Association with your other customers and clients.
    Service policies.
    Client education.
    Bundles/bonuses

You get the idea. The list can be huge once you sit down and really start to think about the REAL value you provide to your customers/clients.

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Defining Your Value in the Client’s Eye

Saturday, November 29th, 2008

Sales come when your customers and clients determine what you have to offer is worth exchanging their money. It has to be fair in thier mind. If they’re uncertain or if money is tight, it makes the exchange process much more difficult.

We’ve all heard about defining a “Unique Selling Proposition” or “Marketing Message.” This is the single sentence or few words that differentiate you from all of your competion. It’s much more difficult to do than you might thing. Some people call this the 15 second elevator speech.  Whatever you call it, it’s critical you clearly define your USP in a way that’s catchy and memorable. This is how you want to be known by your base.

Your value is built upon the USP. The USP is the starting point for separating you and gaining the attention of your market. That attention is brief and you need to keep them engaged. Engaging them means focusing on the benefits of doing business with you.

After many years of studying my competition as well as those who are highly successful, I’ve come to a conclusion. That conclusion is the most sucessful companies go well beyond just the technical aspect of delivering excellent quality printing. They create a complete experience around their goods and services. I can’t tell you what that is for you, but it’s a sure bet you can go much further than you are right now. Here are some ideas.

Understand exactly how your customers and clients use your decorated shirts. The more you know about exactly how they’re used, the more opportunities you can find and expand upon. Focus on finding ways to make it easier to use what you offer. Think about how you can cut time or increase organization?

Are there any other items, goods, or services you can add that would make the experience more complete or easier to use? For instance, if you’re doing event shirts, provide a complete contact list of the local media so the group having the event can quickly get the publicity they need to maximize turnout. This is particularly important for fundraising events and nonprofits.

Think about WHO you know that would also be able to help your customers and clients. These are people, companies, and organizations that’re complementary to those using the shirts. They could be other suppliers. It might also be someone who would benefit from a successful t shirt promotion. An example of this for a fun run might be restaurants, coffee shops, and juice bars located close to where an event is scheduled to take place.

Defining your value goes well beyond just the basic product. Make it easy and fun to do business with you. The more involved you are in how your product is used by the customer, the more opportunites you have to differentiate yourself from your competitors.

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