Product Differentiation

The following is a version of something which I wrote for a team I was mentoring recently. They were in a market-place with 2-3 main competitors, and each of the competitors was best-in-class at one specific thing and considerably worse on the other factors. When the team, which I was mentoring, compared their planned product against this market-place they basically rated themselves as second-best in every factor. So only the respective market leader in that factor was better than them on that factor. They thought this seemed pretty good – with a little bit of compromise, the clients could order just one product, theirs. I was not so convinced…

​​​​​​​I want to add a few points about differentiating your product. This is one of the hardest lessons for new entrepreneurs to learn. You need to find something that makes your product stand out from the rest. It can be worse than the competition on many factors, as long as it is clearly better on one that matters.

The classical examples are
* price
* quality
* speed

​​​​​​​We are the cheapest. We are the best. We are the fastest.

Right now you are none of these.

​​​​​​​Purchasers’ checklists are vital to gather because you need to fulfill them in order to make a sale. But they do not drive the sales process. Usually it is some specific need which drives a change.

​​​​​​​The best reason I have heard, from you, so far is reduction in certain adverse outcomes. But this is difficult to demonstrate – remember you will be assumed to be testing your device in best possible conditions, and your competitors will undoubtedly be producing their numbers in conditions which favour their use case – buyers will be skeptical. And also, just because doctors say that reduced risk is great doesn’t mean that they will make decisions based on this factor. For example, a surgeon rarely deals with the consequences of infection.

​​​​​​​I mentioned the AirBnb pitch, slide 9, because this is the classical solution to we’re not the best on any one axis, but when you look at two axes then we pop out. Again your combo benefit would translate well here. You need to find the two axes that make sense for you, place your competitors on them, then ask purchasers whether they would choose you on this basis… (my opinion).

Btw, more than 2 axes will not make a sale.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.