Market Differentiators: product = service

Here’s a new tip on market differentiators.

First, we’ve explained this before, but let’s review what a market differentiator is. It’s some specific action you take that sets you apart from the competition. Don’t imagine “corporate-like sales talk here”. We don’t mean you’re reliable, honest, fair, fast, affordable, or any number of other adjectives. Everyone says those things. Have you ever met a competitor who tells clients he’s unreliable, dishonest, unfair, slow, expensive, etc? All the adjectives are not differentiators. They make you sound like everyone else. They’re same-inators. �Sounding like someone else who marketed like that is some people’s idea of marketing, which is why we can all pop off with those things in our sleep – we’ve heard them a million times. Everyone says them. And no one’s listening anymore. Back when marketing was born, you just didn’t have to work that hard at it. If you said “I’m reliable” people went “wow, ok then”. But after everyone started saying it, from your insurance agent to your landscaper, it became marketing-ese, not marketing. �Market differentiators are verbs. They’re the things you *do* (verb, action, activity) that are tangibly different. If you say “we deliver reliable reports” (gong! thanks for playing anyway – you just sneaked in another adjective). No, you need to actually do something differently in a sea of sameness. If you aren’t doing anything differently, that’s your very first marketing task.

OK, now the tip. Service = Product, Product = Service. When you’re creating market differentiators (remember, these are verbs), turn a service into a product, and a product into a service:

  • If you offer a service like report writing, or contract selling, or brokering a deal, bend it a little toward being a product, a tangible, a deliverable. You might include extra visual aids, you might offer a free course with your service, or you might deliver backup documents on a thumb drive, or offer free backups of related documentation for a period of time (that’s adding an additional unusual service to a normal service – that’s great, too). These are just some examples. The idea is to add value.
  • If you offer a product like cosmetics, classic automobile body parts, or used books, include a service-oriented extra action or activity when people buy your products. Examples: ship free if you pay with direct bank draft instead of credit card (you save money and pass it on to your clients, and you set yourself apart). We won’t spend a lot of time here talking about monetary perks – there are lots of ways to do those, and that’s what consulting’s for (call us for an appointment). Something different: when you buy parts from us, we pre-etch them, before we ship, with the number of your choice, in case your ride is ever stolen. You see what we’re aiming at. Do things differently. Add value that the other guys won’t.

One more example – this is adding a product to a product, which is also nice: The local coffee shop I go to makes blueberry pie. So do a lot of people. So what? These guys make home-made blueberry pie. There’s an adjective for you – “home-made”. Again, so what? When Olive Garden can toss out that word “home-made” it doesn’t mean much anymore. Here’s what they do differently. Most “home-made” pies use a shortcut like canned pie filling or a pre-made crust. The pie filling is especially common. These guys don’t do it that way. They put fresh blueberries in a pressure cooker and they make the pie filling. Then they make the pie out of the pie filling. That’s a tangible, verb-based, “we *do* this differently” difference. It’s a market differentiator. Actually, for them it’s not, because they don’t tell anyone this. If they put it on their web site, NOW it’s a market differentiator. You get the drift.

Anyway, product=service, service=product…. or add a service to a service, add a product to a product. It’s a great way to think of adding value – by actually adding something. That’s it. That’s a tip that works for us, and we think it can work in your marketing.

Daniel DiGriz

Daniel DiGriz is a corporate storyteller and Digital Ecologist® at MadPipe, which provides creative direction, marketing leadership, and campaign direction for firms that want a stronger connection with their audience. A Digital Ecologist® applies strategic principles from both natural and digital ecologies to help organizations thrive across multiple ecosystems. Daniel hosts podcasts, speaks at conferences, and his ideas have appeared in Inc, SmartBlog, MediaPost, Forbes, and Success Magazine.
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