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Inspire market demand

Posted by Chad O'Connor  July 31, 2013 11:00 AM

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Many of the hottest businesses nowadays (think businesses that offer specialized curated products and services like meal delivery services and fashion subscription box services) claim their key to success has been inspiring market demand.

However inspiring market demand is certainly not a new concept and after launching my company Supplet.com I can confidently say that inspiring market demand is one of the most critical areas you need to nail in your business strategy. Does your marketing and selling effort inspire market demand?

Inspiring market demand requires a clear (and powerful) differentiation message (from competition). Most of us have heard of (or studied) the importance of differentiation. Differentiation goes by different names such as: Competitive Advantage and Unique Selling Proposition (USP). In order to articulate your differentiation offer you have to articulate (and first identify) your company’s unique value.

How do customers decide to do business with you? The simple answer is it is the value you provide. If customers want (or need) something and you offer that something they are generally willing to buy from you (even in a bad economy). Makes sense right? However, chances are you are not the only seller in your market space and there are easy ways to find (enter the power of Google) businesses that offer the same or better value for fewer dollars. This is why it is imperative you articulate your company’s "unique value."

Here are four key points that help illustrate how a customer perceives your unique value:

1. Loser – or Business Failure - If customers perceive that you have a low level of value and a low level of uniqueness you are a business failure. They won’t even buy your products even if they are 89% off. This fact helps explains why you see certain products last on store shelves for one season and then disappear forever. Or the ‘cool ecommerce’ sites that come crashing right down.

2. Fad - or “15 Minutes of Fame” - This is when customers perceive that you are unique, but they are disappointed in the value. They will only buy once or watch your brand and messaging for 15 minutes (while checking their email). Think buying an invisible fish (chances are you will buy it once) or the older popular reality shows (chances are the stars will only have 15 min of fame unless you are Kim Kardashian).

3. Thief - Price Wars - If customers perceive you have high value, but you are not unique they will usually choose the vendor with the lowest price. So unless you are “Walmart like” company or even a Vitacost.com (the cheaper online version of Whole Foods) you are certainly not built to win in a price war. Don’t even start training to enter this war.

4. Winner - Unfair Advantage – What you should strive for! If customers perceive that you offer high value and high uniqueness you are become their top choice.
Ok, now what most business consultants or professors will tell you to do is write down the value you offer and what is unique about you. This should be simple so write it down quickly (especially if you are paying an “expert” to help you with your business). Next, start to dig deeper – what are the ‘things;’ commonly referred to as benefits and features that help give you an unfair advantage. Keep cutting this list or boiling it down to the top one to three unfair advantages you have. If you do not have any then maybe that is a sign for you to pursue something else.

I strongly recommend that you and your team are all in alignment on what your company’s value and unique selling proposition is; this will help with working on your marketing strategy and will save you time and money if you work with a design agency. In some cases it helps to have a boiled down list of your top unique points in case you need to change your marketing messaging down the road (when you get more customer feedback and decide you need to pivot your strategy; this happens often with the best of companies especially when they work on their branding and messaging.

Once you have your value and “uniqueness” written down it is time to start working on communicating your unfair advantage. I recommend communicating your unfair advantage in terms of your market’s demand framework.

What is demand framework? Essentially is what is happening in your market that causes a demand for your products or services.

Birchbox - “If only someone in the know could curate through all the beauty clutter for you, maybe you could have an easier means of discovering products that actually work for you and are worth the splurge.” Their demand framework includes: women (and men) that want to shop for cosmetics but get bombarded and overwhelmed.

Geico - "15 minutes can save you 15% or more on insurance." So what is their demand framework? People are (generally) concerned they are paying too much for insurance.

Brand Message
Create a simple message that is the “big wow” or “aha moment” you want your audience to know. This message could get recycled into your elevator speech to investors, your email marketing, your tagline, or your introductory statement to the media. It should put everything into a relevant context for your audience.

Start by writing a list of what you think the core messaging should be. Get your friends and co-workers involved and then boil it down to your top choices and test this messaging out on a page on your website, your customers and/or your friends. “Test and learn” is what one of my mentors called this this aforementioned exercise.

On that note, you should always “test and learn” before you make a big investment in a marketing campaign or product run. Good Luck!

Jessica Munroe is the co-founder of Supplet.com, an online marketplace for pregnant women and new moms. Supplet has a socially minded agenda that includes creating better health outcomes for children and families.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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