Product Strategy and Why It’s Crucial

Given the total number of brands in the world today, products and services can become generic and commodities more quickly than ever before. As a result, your company shouldn’t rely on new product offerings as your key innovation tool or to create a sustainable success.

Instead, being able to differentiate your product from all others is the best hedge against becoming a commodity and the best way to protect your marketing and positioning investment. Today, what often defines a brand against all others is the level of customer service that supports the daily use of a company’s products and/or services.

It’s common to discover that customer service is given five times the importance in selecting one company over another, or even more weight than a particular product’s attributes or its price. Why is this? Because customers want to make a product choice and, from then on, be able to rely on the company they purchased from to stand behind the product’s ongoing performance and remedy any fixes necessary.

Yet, many companies concentrate on the lead-generation portion of their “sales and marketing program” and ignore their level of customer service. This is particularly true in today’s challenging markets in which customer service departments are being thinned to preserve the bottom-line. The net result of this can be disastrous. And yet, many companies will spend excessive amounts on bringing new customers through their front door using SEO and other internet marketing tools while losing the same or greater number through the back door.

To not fall into this front door/back door trap, here are a few things you could institute at your company:

1) Organize your customers’ experiences into a cohesive program that everyone on your team could easily provide services for at any part of the program, from the initial emailing to a sales call and on through technical customer service.

Tom Marin is the president of MarketCues, a national consulting firm. Tom serves as a senior advisor and change-management consultant with 35 years of experience. He has worked for some of the world’s largest corporations, as well as middle-market firms. Tom's focus is to plan and drive strategy shifts and strategic growth programs in the printing industry and a diverse range of market areas.
Related Content
  • Print Executive

    Your suggestions are very good. Yet, most small to medium sized printers are in skeletal mode because their customers have refused to remain loyal even when their customer service is top notch. All of your suggestions fit into the "value added" category which has bone by the wayside. Value-add is no longer a differentiator when the client company CFO trims the budget and tells the low level managers to put all jobs out for bid and only buy the lowest because that’s all the budgets will allow. Customer service doesn’t fix this core industry problem. Your second suggestion of "The key is to match your product and service offerings to your customers’ preferences, vs. trying to force their needs to fit inside your offerings." is also too difficult for small printers to accomplish. The needs of clients are all over the board due to competition and the addition of gang printers, cost cutting brokers, misdirected print buyers, designers who put together bizarre designs which cannot be run efficiently on existing equipment. The only recourse for the small to medium printer is to outsource and this just raises the price and the print buyers then go direct or reject the bid. Printers can no longer be all things to all people. Specialty printers are not interested in remaining "trade only" to protect the market as the pressure to generate more and more revenue forces them to bid direct and offer their wares to the end users. We are in a commodity and one cannot differentiate a commodity. Corn is corn is corn. The only way to differentiate one’s offerings is efficiency and process in order to create a simpler user experience with less time necessary to communicate. Users don’t want to talk to printers. They want to log into a portal, customize their collateral, order as few as 1 piece and check out without ever having to pick up the phone. Just like texting took off, people are all moving to automated systems to conserve their time, their space and not have to deal with people period.