Unfortunately for Burger King and Wendy’s, they are not going to get ahead by doing the same old thing, but just being a little bit better at it. In a world with massive competition, businesses need to stand out from the crowd.
They need to un-commoditise. That’s what Burger King and Wendy’s are missing. Next to McDonald’s they’re just commodities, even if they are a little better. So if you can’t be McDonald’s, be Taco Bell or Starbucks instead. Don’t be Wendy’s or Burger King.
The beauty about un-commoditizing your business is that it puts you in a category of your own. When you are in your own category, there’s nothing to compare you with. When there’s nothing to compare you with, then there’s no set expectations for how much you should cost.
When that happens, guess who gets to set the expectations? You do, which means you can set your prices drastically higher and radically increase your profit margins. If you can effectively bring in and keep customers without having to compete on price, then you’re probably going to be rich. Does that sound okay with you?
To help you do that, I’ve included a list of 11 strategies that you can use to un-commoditise your business.
1. Go with a different look
Marketing expert, Perry Belcher tells of a company he worked with that imported heat sealers from China. “Everybody in the world brings in these little heat sealers from one company in China. They’re an aqua blue color and… just scream, I’m a Chinese heat sealer!”
Belcher was able to command a higher price for the exact same heat sealer simply by making it look different. He had the heat sealers painted red instead of blue (which probably didn’t cost him any extra) and sold them through a company with an American sounding name.
Apple does something similar with their shiny white computers that sell for three times the price of a PC. Going with a different look is probably not the only way that you’ll want to stand out, but it might be a great way to start.
“Be the one to stand out in the crowd.” – Joel Osteen
2. Be aggressively devoted to premium quality
Speaking of Apple, how many times have you heard that one of their products just bombed? Answer: Not recently. In fact, it was reported that pre-orders for their watch sold out in a matter of hours. Compare that with their main competitor, Microsoft, who has had significant problems with two out of the last four Windows updates.
No wonder Apple products cost so much more. And it’s not just Apple. Think of names like:
- The Four Seasons
These are companies that do not compete on price. They get rich competing on quality.
3. Bundle physical products with your information products
Thanks to the Internet, selling information products is easier than ever. As a result, everybody is selling information products. After all, why not? The profit margin can be up to nearly 100%. The downside of this is that it becomes very hard to stand out.
With all this competition we’re seeing much lower prices for certain information products than you would have seen only a few years ago. But, if you’re interested in getting rich, then competing on price is a bad idea. Instead, find a way to stand out and charge even higher prices.
A great way to do this is to bundle information products with physical products. For example: A company that sells a course on how to be a better skier could bundle the course with a set of skis and charge a much higher price.
4. Bundle information with your physical goods
This is the reverse of what I was just talking about. The Internet has created massive competition for sellers of information and physical goods alike. By bundling information products with your physical goods you can drastically increase profit margins.
Using the same type of example as before: Instead of just selling a set of skis, you could sell them along with a course on how to be an expert skier. By using this strategy you can raise the price significantly, without increasing costs very much.
Luckily, information products are not too hard to come by. You can partner with someone who sells information products. You can offer to publish an information product that someone has created or wants to create. Or, if you have the expertise, the time and the interest, you can create your own information products. (Note: Just make sure that the information products you use are always top notch.)
5. Create a subcategory
Charles Lindbergh was the first person to fly the Atlantic solo. That’s fairly common knowledge. Do you happen to know who the second person was? Nobody knows, even though Bert Hinkler actually did a better job. He made the trip in less time and with less fuel.
But, in business poor Bert would have been nothing more than a me-too product that people ignore. The dominating spot in his market had already been taken, and sometimes people just don’t care if you can do the job better. There’s already a name that they trust.
If you’re new to a market that already has a leader, then you need to create your own subcategory that nobody has claimed yet. You’ve possibly heard of the third person who flew the Atlantic solo. Her name was Amelia Earhart. But no one remembers her as the third person to get the job done. She was the first woman to get the job done. She had her own subcategory.
Want an example? Between Apple and Microsoft the personal computer market is pretty competitive. But what if a company came along and created its own computers with an operating system that is designed specifically and exclusively for gamers?
Between Microsoft having had way too many problems in the last few years and Apple not really focusing on the videogame market, a company who did a great job creating and marketing a computer exclusively for gamers might be very successful.
“Today we’re living in an anti-Waldo world, where you don’t want to blend in and have people struggle to find you. You want your personal brand to stand out like you’re wearing a red and white sweater, and everyone else has on black.” – Jarod Kintz
6. Create a better guarantee
With so many swindlers out there your customers obviously need to know that they’re not stepping into a trap they can’t get out of. Hopefully that’s not news to you. Unfortunately, in many markets having a 60 day 100% money back guarantee is more of a given than a bonus these days.
Just about everyone has some type of guarantee. If you want to stand out, why not try offering something much better than everyone else. For example you could try offering to refund 110% of your price to any unsatisfied customer. Obviously your risk is slightly higher with such a guarantee.
But your likelihood of losing money instead of gaining much more money with this kind of guarantee is extremely low, assuming you’re offering a quality product or service. What type of superior guarantee could you offer in your business?
7. Be a contrarian brand
Whether it be corporate giants, big government, the media or even some charity organizations, people just don’t trust the mainstream establishment anymore. There’s been one too many stories about corporate deception, political bribes and media coverups.
Sometimes to be successful, you can’t just be a little different than everyone else. You have to be the opposite. In The 22 Immutable Laws Of Marketing Al Ries and Jack Trout write:
“A good No. 2 [brand] can’t afford to be timid. Burger King’s most successful years came when it was on the attack. It opened with “Have it your way,” which twitted McDonald’s mass-manufacturing approach to hamburgers. Then for some unknown reason Burger King got timid and stopped attacking McDonald’s. It even started a program to attract little kids, the mainstay of McDonald’s strength. Burger King’s sales per unit declined and have never returned to the level they were when it was on the attack.”
How could you attack the status quo and make your business an opposite brand? Remember: What you’re offering doesn’t have to be the exact opposite or even necessarily very different. What has to be opposite is your message and how you position yourself. (Note: After all, Burger King was never really that different from McDonald’s.)
8. Create an outstanding acquisition offer
Thanks to the Internet creating a global marketplace, small businesses can reach more customers than ever before. But the Internet is a mixed blessing. Yes, you can reach a vastly increased pool of potential customers. But, you are also placed next to a vastly increased number of competitors.
Add this to the fact that today’s buyers are more sceptical than ever and you may have a real problem on your hands. The good news is that all your competitors face that same dilemma, which gives you a chance to get ahead of them… if you use smart strategies.
Today’s buyers are so sceptical, they tend to stick with brands that they know and trust. But, how are they ever going to trust you if they never give you a chance? The trick is getting that first sale which allows you to knock their socks off and prove that your brand is the one that deserves their business.
A great way to do this is with an acquisition offer. An acquisition offer is a high-value, low priced offer that allows you to acquire a new customer and prove to them the quality of your brand. If you can prove to them that your brand offers great quality and service, then they’ll probably keep on buying from you in the future.
Cable/Internet companies have a tendency to do this by offering a deeply discounted rate for a limited time. During that discounted phase they’re hoping to prove how great their service is, so that you’ll stay with them long-term.
An example of a similar strategy is McDonald’s dollar menu. Maybe you go there just to buy that one dollar burger. But what do they do once you’re there? They ask “Would you like fries and coke with that?” I guarantee you, they’re not getting rich off the sale of one dollar burgers. They’re getting rich off the sale of side dishes and soft drinks.
9. Focus on a benefit your competitors don’t talk about
Sometimes what you sell doesn’t actually have to be different. Sometimes what is different is what you say and who you say it to. Let’s say there are five different companies that buy the same type of soap from the same manufacturer.
One company emphasizes how good their soap is for dry skin. One company emphasizes the powerful germ killing effect of their soap. Another company tells people that they offer THE soap to use if you want to smell and feel like an attractive lady. One company emphasizes how refreshed and clean their customers will feel after they get out of a shower with this soap. The last company emphasizes how effective their soap is at eliminating body odour.
Now, these companies might have asked for a bit of customisation. Maybe they each have their logos on the bars of soap. Maybe one company asked for their soap to be coloured blue while another asked for pink, but they are all selling the same exact soap!
None of them are lying. All the soap being sold by these companies is good for dry skin, eliminating B.O., killing germs and so on. Yet these five companies are able to sell the exact same product to different target markets simply by emphasizing different benefits.
The beauty is that all five might end up being very successful even if they charge high prices, because they’re just selling next to each other. They’re not competing with each other.
10. Describe your process and why it’s good (even if it’s not unique)
Let’s take that last soap example a little bit further. Let’s say that there is a sixth company that starts buying some of the same soap from the soap manufacturer. They’re just passionate about the germ killing effects of this soap and they don’t want to come up with a different angle to use to sell to a different target market.
Their problem is that there is already another company, with an established brand, selling that same product to that same market. The new company will want to find a way to differentiate itself. This can actually be as simple as telling their customers why their product works so well.
Instead of just saying: “Our soap is THE soap to use to kill germs.” They can say: “Our soap is THE soap to use to kill germs because we include powerful, state-of-the-art antibiotics in our formula. The germs won’t stand a chance.”
By saying this, they are able to differentiate themselves and sell the exact same product to the exact same market for the exact same reason. If they sell their product using this message they may be able to get a serious advantage over the company that was already selling to the germ killing market.
Because they sell it as a product using state-of-the-art science, they could likely charge an even higher price than the already established company. It doesn’t matter that the first company has those antibiotics too, because the customer doesn’t know that.
And the first company can’t suddenly start talking about the powerful antibiotics in their formula, because they will then look like the me-too company. They’ll have to come up with a new reason why they are still the best germ killing soap company.
11. Offer out of this world customer service
Am I the only one who hates having to call help or customer support at companies? First you have to wait forever to actually talk to a person. You never know if they’re actually going to know what they’re doing and be helpful or if they will be ignorant, stubborn or rude.
So why not be the company that blows their customers away with how good they are treated? Try these:
- Try guaranteeing to answer the phone by the third ring.
- Try offering to have someone come out to your customer’s home or office to help them assemble your product and/or teach them how to use it.
- Follow up after a purchase with a friendly phone call and make sure everything is alright. Ask if they have any questions or anything else you can help them with.
- Be relentlessly helpful, friendly and generous every step of the way.
Un-commoditising your business is not only possible. It’s essential if you want to compete and win in a competitive global marketplace.
Once you un-commoditise your business, you’ll have the power to drastically raise prices and increase profit margins without getting compared to cheaper alternatives. If you truly and successfully un-commoditise your business then there are no alternatives.