If you’re selling left-handed pruning shears, it’s easy to stand out in the marketplace. If, however, you offer perennials, bulbs, or other things that many companies carry, distinguishing yourself can be more of a challenge.Here are some suggestions for how to do it.
Explain Your Product Benefits
Your competitors may be offering the same product you are, but if you’re the only one explaining the benefits, you’re way ahead.
Take daylilies, for instance. Sure, most of them grow in a wide variety of conditions, have a long bloom season, multiply indefinitely, make great cut flowers, are easy to maintain and are nearly pest-free. If, however, you’re the only one pointing out these benefits, consumers tend to associate them withyour product.
Highlight Other Benefits
Product is only one part of what you offer customers. Consider other factors, such as low price, shipping speed, or a large selection. You nearly always find your company stands out for reasons besides your product line.
On more than one occasion, I’ve stumbled across some distinguishing feature about a company that they ignored. In one case, catalog prices seemed extremely high – until I noticed that they were shipping exceptionally large plants. Why, I wondered, didn’t they tout this as a benefit?
Another company offers extraordinarily low prices for their limited selection of popular perennials. They highlight this benefit in their catalog, but not in their ads.If more people knew about their prices, I bet they’d sell out in no time.
See What Customers Say
If you’re not sure how customers perceive your company, ask. Include a brief questionnaire on your web site or after a telephone order. Even easier, go to Garden Watchdog (www.gardenwatchdog.com) and read the comments posted there. While you’re at it, see what they say about your competition, too.
Image is Important
While specific facts are a tremendous plus, don’t discount the importance of image. We once had the challenge of generating leads for a brand new catalog that offered roses and bulbs. The product line was not especially unusual, prices were average, and the company had no previous track record we could rely on.
With no distinguishing talking points, we relied on smashing photography and a high-style ad (which, mind you, was only 2.5” square!). Response was tremendous, and profits from new customers averaged 265%.
When your product is commonplace, providing extra information can help you win over prospective customers. For instance, I’ve always thought that buying a greenhouse must be a daunting experience. It’s an expensive purchase and not easy to return, so the pressure is on to choose carefully. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of different models – and the advertising for all of them sounds virtually identical.
I’ve often wondered why some savvy greenhouse company doesn’t publicize a buyers guide and help prospects sort through the maze of possibilities. If they do their job well, they could have customers beating a path to their door.