Differentiate or die

When you’re up against a bigger, stronger competitor in your sector, it can be tricky deciding on a marketing strategy.

I was talking recently to a marine company in just that situation, a relatively small player in a market well-supplied with similar competing products.

Their product looks, on the face of it, very much like the brand leader in their sector.

The brand leader is currently targeting its m.comms at a particular type of user of the product. So the smaller player was considering doing the same.

Emulating how a more successful competitor is promoting its product is always a temptation. But it seldom works.

If you try to offer the same, you’ll only succeed in stealing their customers if you have the edge elsewhere, such as a lower price or faster delivery. If you don’t, and you’re perceived as being the same in all respects, then the larger player will always win as they’re the ‘safer’ choice.

It’s invariably better to plough your own furrow.

If the larger competitor targets people who are particularly social, you should consider gearing your marketing communications to those who value their privacy and independence.

If he’s emphasising speed, you could emphasise economy, reliability or design.

Consumers have different needs and different wants. Turning your sites towards those whom others are missing, usually pays off.