How to differentiate your product or service offering

A great way of coming up with innovative business ideas is to take an existing product or service concept, and to change it or improve it in some way. You can then emphasize that special feature, aspect, or quality in your marketing campaigns.

The unique selling point differentiates your offering from the competition and makes your offering stand out and better appeal to your target customers.

The following list offers a number of ideas and suggestions that you might find useful when brainstorming ways to differentiate your product or service:

  • Pricing
    • Lowest cost
    • Affordable
    • Best value for the money
    • High-price, premium, luxury
    • Attractive long-term cost of ownership
  • Quality
    • High quality
    • Craftsmanship
    • Design
    • Purity, best ingredients, etc.
    • Pedigree
    • No-frills or good-enough quality (to save costs)
  • Features
    • Special features that bring benefits that other competitors don’t offer
  • Specialization to satisfy the needs a particular niche market
  • Customization
    • Made-to-order (sandwiches, tailored suits, etc.)
    • “Have it your way”
  • Speed
    • Delivered in 30 minutes or less, “glasses in about an hour”, etc.
    • Fast food
    • While-you-wait
    • Drive it off the lot (rather than waiting weeks for delivery from the factory)
  • Service
    • “Service with a smile”:¬†happier or more attentive staff (better than the competition)
    • Guaranteed response times for customer support inquiries
  • Ease of use
    • Easy to learn; don’t need training
    • “Set it and forget it”
  • Reliability
    • Durability; reputation for a long product life
    • “Unbreakable”
    • Uptime guarantees
    • Assurance that your business is stable and solvent and will remain in business for a long time
  • Guarantee
    • Warranty
    • Lifetime warranty
    • Replacement guarantee
    • Satisfaction guarantee, money-back refund
  • Brand name
    • Trusted name for quality, reliability, etc.
    • As a means of looking cool or showing off socially (e.g., look, I’m wearing Prada)
    • Prestige
  • Technology
    • Cutting-edge technology is usually only useful if it brings some benefit that wasn’t possible before, but some tech geeks may want something just because it uses a new technology, for the “coolness factor”
  • Design
    • Attractive, aesthetic design
    • Ergonomics
    • Current style or fashion
  • Risk-free / risk-transfer
    • Money-back guarantee
    • Generous return policy
    • Provider assumes the risk (e.g., provider pays the fees if a compliance issue is violated for a regulatory filing)
  • Green / environmentally-friendly
  • Social responsibility, ethics
    • Cruelty-free, not tested on animals
    • Fair trade
    • Not manufactured in a sweatshop
  • Details of manufacture
    • Hand-crafted
    • Precision manufacturing
    • Made in the USA, made in Germany, union-made, etc.
  • Healthy
    • Organic
    • Low-fat, low-carb, etc.
    • Added vitamins
    • Pure ingredients
  • Safety, security
  • Convenience
    • Open late or 24 hours
    • Web-based so you don’t have to go somewhere in person or wait on hold on the phone
    • Cloud-hosted, access from anywhere
    • Convenient location
    • No need to make an appointment, just drop in
    • Toll-free hotline
    • “We do all the work so you don’t have to worry”
    • Low-maintenance or easy maintenance
  • Pricing model or purchasing options
    • Financing; monthly instalments plan
    • Subscription plan (versus paying once up-front)
    • One-time purchase for lifetime ownership/access (versus recurring payments)
    • Access to subsidies, grants, etc.
    • Renting
    • Leasing
    • Rent-to-own
  • Location
    • Close to the customer
    • Made with local ingredients
    • Location-independent (e.g., service by web, phone, mail-order)
  • Size, quantity, form factor
    • The biggest…
    • The smallest…
    • The most comfortable…
    • Travel-size
    • Available in multiple sizes or custom sizes (versus one-size-fits-all)
    • Generous portions
    • Healthy-sized portions
    • All you can eat
  • Relationship
    • Non-commission salespeople
    • “Advice you can trust”
    • Buying the product lets the customer become a member of a formal or informal community (e.g., buying a Harley-Davidson motorcycle)
    • Likeable celebrity founder/CEO or spokesperson/representative
  • Choice, variety
    • Offering a wide range of styles, models, colors, etc.
    • Optional add-ons, plug-ins, after-market enhancements
  • Future-proofing
    • Expandability, upgradability
    • Guarantee that a software package will run on future operating system versions

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