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A few months ago I went to a program sponsored by VMEC (Vermont Manufacturing Exchange Center) on innovation.  The program was taught by Doug Hall who has a developed a systematic way of approaching and implementing innovation in your company.

As part of the program we are on a mailing list where companies can ask questions about issues they’re facing in developing new products and services.  I recently ran across a very interesting question.

The question was from a web development company who wanted to put together an offering based on no charges for web design changes and not charging by the hour but having an annual charge developed for their customers.  They wanted to know how they could get the word out that would attract attention for potential customers.

I thought they completely missed the point.  This company was trying to build a product offering based on features and not the benefit the customer would get.  Yes, there is a benefit of not having to pay for web changes and having your web provider not nickel and dime you for every change would be nice, but that surely wouldn’t get a conversation with me.

Instead this company needed to develop an offer that would make me want to do business with them.  There are thousands of web developers in the country and they all pretty much do and say the same thing.  The vast majority of those developers continue to do one offs where they have to charge me to learn about my industry.

If this company showed industry expertise I would be interested.  I’m not suggesting that this company develop a canned web solution for an industry, although there are plenty of successful companies doing this.  I think that if the company developed an expertise in helping companies solve their electronic marketing problems they would have something unique to sell.

People buy based on a need that they have.  In this case if the company showed that they really understood the needs of a small niche they would be able to attract customers more easily and develop a value proposition that would be unique to their industry and valuable to their customers.

Too many companies believe there aren’t enough customers in the world.  The only reason companies use all things to all customers strategies is they either haven’t thought through a nice strategy or they believe there aren’t enough customers in the world.  I know that in most cases there are more than enough customers in any niche you can imagine. 

It’s having the gumption to learn to say no to those that don’t fit.  Before you get there you’re going to need to know what it is that you do and what the benefit is for the customer that would be useful.

Josh Patrick

I’ve put together a special report on strategic marketing that expands some of the issues raised in this post.  Click on the button below and you’ll be able to get a copy of this report.


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Topics: value creation, strategic marketing, unique ability

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