Marketing: Standing Out

October 6, 2010

Your most critical marketing challenge is simple: you must find a way to differentiate your product from all the others. What is it that makes your product stand out from the rest?

I’d like you to think, for a moment, about your typical supplement customer, the one who has expressed an interest in nutritional supplement products. Chances are, your customer is being bombarded with information and advertising from your competitors on a regular basis. In other words, your customer’s mailbox is usually full. Your most critical marketing challenge is simple: you must find a way to differentiate your product from all the others. What is it that makes your product stand out from the rest?

This is probably a question you can answer without even thinking about it. After all, you live and breathe your products on a daily basis. But it’s how well you can articulate this message that’s vitally important. Your product’s unique selling proposition-or USP, for short-is the most critical component of your overall marketing strategy. You must be able to explain to your customer, in clear terms, what it is about your product that makes it unique-and why it’s a better choice than your competitor’s product.

The first step, before you’re ready to present your USP to a new customer, is to perform some simple competitive research so that you know what you’re up against. Order your competitors’ products and keep track of what you get when you receive the order. Also keep track of any ongoing solicitations for new products.

Once you understand the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors’ products, you can better position your own. Let’s examine a few of the advantages your supplement product might have and how you might best articulate them.

Advantage #1: Does your product have a proprietary formulation?

In many cases, the benefits associated with one unique ingredient might be enough to help your product stand out. Or, it may be that your specific formulation overall provides a clear advantage. If either is the case, it’s always a good idea to present compelling scientific research showing the effectiveness of your unique ingredient to help drive home this benefit.

Advantage #2: Are your supplements easier to swallow or simpler for the body to digest?

Let’s face it. Some of the time, the ingredients in competing supplement brands may be virtually identical. If this is the case, you must look elsewhere for an edge-perhaps in delivery system. Some manufacturers may offer a product in a soft-gel form as opposed to a tablet. If this is an advantage, it should not be overlooked when describing the unique properties of your supplement product.

Advantage #3: Does your company or supplier use superior processing practices?

I’ve heard it said on many occasions that the customer isn’t interested in hearing about the manufacturing process. But my experience has proven otherwise. In cases where a company uses superior practices or has outstanding quality controls, customers tend to notice. And when trying to carve out a unique advantage in the market, any edge is important.

In addition to these three simple differentiators, there are other selling points to consider. For example, who discovered your product and how? Is there a unique story involved? Perhaps a doctor with an outstanding reputation would be willing to provide an endorsement. Do you offer a stronger refund policy or faster shipping? Has your company been in business longer than your competitors have?

Any of these things can help you establish a unique position in the marketplace. But there’s one more very simple thing you can do to help perfect your USP: Ask your customers why they bought from you.

You may think that it’s your product’s powerful ingredient combination that’s the most important piece of the marketing puzzle. But your customers may feel that your product’s easy-to-swallow capsule form is what helped motivate their buying decision most. That type of information should never be ignored.

No matter what it is that makes your product unique, making your product stand out from the dozens of others you’ll be competing with is your most important marketing challenge.

Jody Madron is the president of Madron Marketing, a direct-marketing consulting and copywriting firm specializing in nutritional supplement marketing. He is the cofounder of Marketing with the Masters, a comprehensive direct-marketing education program for supplement marketers. He can be reached at jody@madronmarketing.com.