Differentiation Strategies: How to Break Through the Digital Noise in 2021

Clients are persistently bombarded by messages and pop-ups everywhere in the growing saturated markets.

Over time, businesses have more or less become the same. Influenced by constant benchmarking, competitors aimed for similar results to that of the market leaders, leading to more conformity as days go by. Following others’ footsteps, in essence, is not a bad thing. You have to start where others left to be able to speed up your early phases and then, preferably, divert into something unique. Take Sam Walton’s statement, founder of Walmart, as a shining example:

”Most everything I’ve done I’ve copied from someone else.”

However, closely following established models will only give you a headstart. To achieve a unique, profitable stand in the market, you must diverge into something different. Instead of “competing to be among the top, you should ”“strive to be unique”. This is where a differentiation strategy takes role. A differentiation strategy is a method to stand out from the crown and give your clients a reason to choose YOU over your competitors. Competitive edge, value propositions, and several other core marketing principles all underlie your differentiation strategy.

In this article, we are going to have a bird's-eye view into a few differentiation obstacles, which differentiation approaches don’t work, and which differentiation strategies to use so your voice can be heard loud and clear. 


Differentiation Traps: 2 Differentiation Killers to Avoid

  • Poorly Differentiated Branding
    Businesses with generalized branding are boring. These businesses offer no distinction. They use “bland” language.

As the example above illustrates, they display their value proposition as if no else does the exact same thing. These types of landing pages have been shown to have poor conversion rates, due to the generalized value proposition displayed. 

  • Stepping into the Unknown
    Differentiation IS Scary. To become different from your competitors can be exciting in theory. However, when large funds are at stake, things feel different.It is always enticing to stay in the comfort zone. Having a safe, boring strategy will give you guaranteed, normal (or little) results. This may workout if you are already an established entity aiming for sheer survival. However, as a startup, staying normal can be your biggest takedown in the not so far future. Your audience may even fail to notice your existence.


How to Tackle This: Differentiation strategies

In the marketing classic, “Differentiate or Die”, 14 different ideas termed as “Differentiation attributes” have been demonstrated. Only 8 out of those 14 have been labelled as“Strong” for their versatility across industries and their resistance to “fade away” with time. Each of these ideas can be used alone or several can be combined together and incorporated into your next marketing plan. To keep the article simple, we’ll list 4 strategies condensed into 4 points:

  • Heritage
    Having a long history naturally holds high psychological importance. It conveys a sense of security and trust. Your brand can express dominance through withstanding the test of time. Can you recall your emotional perception when you saw “est 1923”on any store banner? Yes, you perceive it as an established brand. All these factors contribute to your differentiation.
  • Be a Market Specialist
    Specializing is key. People tend to perceive businesses with a specific niche (a single target user group) as more knowledgeable and experienced in that field. Thus, these “specialized” businesses tend to attract client attention much more than their generalized counterparts.
  • Being the First and the Latest
    This is the lifeline of all news companies around the globe. Getting that next scope under the spotlight is always a priority to survive the intelligence battles between the reporters. Certainly, having this edge in a digital landscape is much tougher. However, being the leading authority for updated news in your region takes much less effort. If your brand can provide handpicked news curated from different news dashboards, your customers will have no choice but to perceive you as an “in-the-game” authority. That most definitely will make you stand out amidst your competitors, as the update frequency is correlated with viability of your brand.
  • Demonstrating How the Product is Made/Service is Provided
    One of the single most powerful boosts you can do to your credibility is giving your audience an inside-peek into how your workflow runs. An expert videographer will know how to bring out your brand story and mission to life, connecting to your clients on a deeper level and sealing their trust. Try to sprinkle some fairy dust: an honest testimonial, for example, can be turned into a boring monologue or an awe-inspiring review of your business. Don’t be extensive or very broad; be specific with a no-fluff approach into how your business is solving the challenges of its clients.


Why Pricing and Quality Differences are NOT Sustainable

Pricing games may only work at the early stages. Otherwise, it is a fool’s game- prices can go as low as the service provider desires, especially if the desired product requires minimal human intervention. Remember-someone can and will bring a cheaper bargain to the table. Few successful cases that utilized pricing as their differentiation strategies include Walmart and Woolworth (German chain of department stores). However, both chains had the structural ability to accommodate that advantage, as their capital and broad array of products served in keeping them at the top of their game. In other words, pricing alone is not enough if you do not hold a large market share or have any other powerful edge to your service/product.

Remember that marketing is-and will always be- a game of attention. The core purpose of any differentiation strategy is to set a spotlight on you, to make you stand out amidst the chaotic realm of the already-saturated market. Whatever technique or approach you utilize, always remember to question yourself: will this make the client choose me? If you are not sure, take a few steps back and strategize well. Or, you can save yourself this gruesome turmoil and leave all the hard work to us in Vanilla to ascend your business to the next level.

Contact info@vanillasm.com for Digital Branding Consultancy.

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