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Don’t Delete That! Why Your Key Point of Difference Might Be Hiding in Plain Sight.

Before we jump in, join me in a quick review of the essential elements in the marketing mix – the old 4 P’s.

  • You’ve got your product. Without it, you won’t have much to do so it’s important there is a product to sell.

  • Then there’s price. How much are you going to sell your product for and how did you come up with this number?

  • Next, placement. Where are you going to sell your product?

  • Finally, we have promotion. How are you going to make sure people actually know about the product you’re selling?

Aside from actually creating the product itself, promotion is probably the most difficult part of the mix. This is becoming an even more impossible task given just how saturated markets are with “stuff.” Getting your product to not only catch someone’s eye, but also stand out among an infinite number of similar products, is the nightmare of every marketing professional. Now, multiply that out exponentially and you’ve got marketing in Asia.

Fun fact: according to A.C. Nielsen, there is a new SKU launched in China alone every 7 minutes – that’s more than 200 a day.

How in the world are you supposed to compete when it doesn’t seem at all like a fair fight? That’s where your key point of difference comes in.

If you’re like any of the other people I’ve worked with, you’re probably saying to yourself right now, “we’ve looked into that already!” Sometimes, though, it’s hard to see the forest for the trees. That’s why I’m a big proponent of taking a fresh look at everything you’ve already done instead of going back to the proverbial drawing board. You never know what you might find.

With that in mind, let’s start fresh.

It’s not such a big deal if your product doesn’t have a key point of difference – what matters is finding something to talk about that no-one else is talking about. I did say something, not anything. Whatever you identify has to resonate with consumers. That means it needs to be unique, relatable, and (hopefully) validated.

What’s more unique than your brand? Probably nothing! You’ve already done a lot of the work coming up with USPs, differentiated products, and market intelligence. Now you need to figure out how to use this in identifying a key point of difference for your marketing mix. Given the saturation of the market, especially in Asia, this means you’re going to have to really dig through those notes and come up with something creative. To make your life easier, it’s important to have the right commercial acumen and knowledge of local consumer trends as well. At the end of the day, though, your product and its story are the key point of difference more so than external factors.

To give you a bit of inspiration, look at New Zealand farm collective Theland. ​The group produces 10 million kilograms of milk solids from 26,000 cows across the country. In China more than 2,600 supermarkets, as well as a growing number of online retailers, sell their products. To achieve this massive growth in a relatively short period of time, Theland sat down with Chinese consumers to find out what resonated best. Low and behold, their key point of differentiation was sitting in a small statistic buried beneath what I can only assume were piles of flipchart paper. Consumers cared most about the treatment of Theland’s dairy cows because they believed this translated into a stronger benefit for them, especially with health and taste. This resulted in the very impactful campaign guaranteeing “one acre of land per cow.” Instead of having to develop a brand new story about provenance, or promote a thorough scientific analysis of their product, Theland was able to come up with a winning point of differentiation using what was already there.

Promotion today is no small task. It takes creativity, acumen, and an innovative mindset to really put a true point of difference out into the market. Just remember you don’t have to scrap everything and start over. The answer you’re looking for might actually be hiding in plain sight.

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