What’s the Point?

Written by Bill Tanzer


The point of difference, that is. Or more specifically, what separates YOUR company from every other competitor? Is it the particular benefits associated with your product or service? Is it more convenient to use, more available, more accessible?
Are you known for consistently quick turnarounds, exceptional problem solving, or innovative design? Whatever the difference is, the potential customer must be made aware of it.

Does your company offer a product not just unique to its field, but unrivaled, not available from anyone else? For example, are you selling home-made gelato while everyone else on the block has frozen yogurt? And if you are selling a service offered by five other shops in the area, how do you stand out? Define the difference and there’s the point.

It goes without saying that marketing gets you in the door, but a great product/service is a must for retention rates. And all marketing materials, from your website to business cards and of course, packaging, should be consistent and complementary to each other, always reflecting your company’s vision and values.

Companies that twist and turn in vision and goals tend to offer only confusion.

Let’s take Eastman Kodak as an example. Kodak has been in business for more than 131 years. Known primarily for its line of film, Kodak has been trying to reinvent itself as a company that makes printers. Do you or have you ever associated Kodak with printers?

Stocks for the company recently plunged, rivaling lows not seen by the company since more than half a century ago. Last week, the Wall Street Journal announced that Kodak hired a restructuring firm. Uh oh. What happened? Well, shareholders balked, driving stock prices not seen since 1935, during the midst of the Great Depression. Not exactly a confidence boost.

Kodak started losing market share back in 2009 when the camera company dumped its famous Kodachrome brand. That probably would’ve been okay if Kodak had already adapted to digital photography by then. After all, Kodak’s mission was to “capture moments” – not just manufacture film. However moments are captured, the actual technology is irrelevant. In fact, companies should routinely adapt to emerging technologies to stay ahead of the game. Unfortunately, it took a while for Kodak to catch up to the digital future and it can cost them in the end.

What does Kodak’s problems have to do with you, the small business owner? Look at is as reminder: Remember your company’s core values, and build your goals around them. Companies that forget their origins or why they are in business in the first place don’t always fare well and some simply fall off the earth.

October 3, 2011

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