Marketing often seems like an overwhelmingly confusing proposition, but really it’s quite simple. At its core, the marketplace can be distilled to its three core elements – your company, your competitors and the customers. You may recall Omhae’s Three Cs from your Marketing 101 class, but don’t dismiss this as just another clever acronym. Everything you do in marketing should incorporate these three Cs. After all, marketing basically is finding a way to position your company so that customers choose it over the competition. The bigger question, though, is how to do this.
The obvious goal of marketing is to create value – that is, to give customers something that the competition cannot. This calls to mind another Marketing 101 concept; the value proposition, which states that benefits must outweigh costs. Your company’s value proposition has to outweigh that of the competition. If not, why would a customer choose you?
There are two ways to swing the value proposition in your favor. The first is to develop a cost advantage in comparison with your competition. Can you make your product more efficiently? Can you cut unnecessary expenses? Can you lower your price and still make money?
The other way to win the value proposition battle is to give the customer more benefits. Is there anything you can do for your customers that the other companies can’t? Can you commit to delivering excellent service at all times, even if it means additional expenses?
The Real Value Proposition
We’ve covered the basics when analyzing your position in the market. Now, it’s time to dig a little deeper.
As we know, customers don’t see things in a linear way. If your product is the cheapest and is simultaneously the worst performing, people will take notice. The same applies if you provide great service, but charge an exorbitant price. The idea is to combine both of these value-creating concepts and apply them to the three Cs.
First, you must be the leader in something within your industry. Whether it be price or service or the quality of your product, there has to be something that separates you from the pack in one area. Without this, people will have no reason to treat you as a serious competitor.
Second, and perhaps more importantly, you can’t lose in any of the other areas. What this means is, if you’re the price leader, you should also have acceptable service, product quality, accessibility and all of the other factors that differentiate a company. Deficiencies in any of these areas will send customers running to the competition; after all, it only takes one bad experience to destroy your brand equity in the eyes of a consumer.
The Big Picture
As marketers, it’s our job to make it easy for customers to continue buying our product. It’s also our job to make it difficult for customers of the competition to continue buying their product. Again, it boils down to the three Cs. Somehow, you have to create value for your desired customers and, while doing so, make your company look better than the others. You do that by having one defined advantage over the competition while holding steady in the other areas. This creates the multi-faceted image that customers crave and that will keep them coming back.
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