08 Nov Episode 7: How to Differentiate Your Products from All Your Competition
In this episode, Justin King covers a different way for distributors to differentiate themselves from competitors: product bundles.
You may be familiar with the concept of affiliate marketing. Basically, affiliate marketing is when someone has a product that they want to sell, and so they partner with individuals (affiliates) who market and sell those same products on their behalf for a portion of the profits.
Distributors often face the same challenge that affiliate marketers face: once you find a good product, everyone starts to sell it, and it dilutes your profits. Good affiliates, and good distributors, distinguish themselves by creating product bundles. They combine useful products that work together to provide the customer a better experience.
- Good product bundles start with a product that already sells on its own; high-cost, high-margin items that already have customer appeal.
- Good product bundles ultimately make the customer’s life easier. Even something as simple as including the most frequently-asked questions in the product detail page can help.
- Include a low-cost problem-solving product to pair with the higher-end product. Consider offering a training or service to accompany it.
- Incorporate customer feedback and monitor analytics, and then revise accordingly before applying to more products.
Well-thought out and tested product bundles can help differentiate you from your competitors. They make your customers’ lives easier, and even create products as a service. To start, talk to your customers, research the product(s), and see what problems exist. Next bundle things together to create a unique product or solution. Then get your customers’ feedback and launch the bundle. Finally, use analytics to track your conversion rate and determine how to tweak it.
Hey, this is Justin King and I am very excited about this episode. We’re going to talk about a really really cool idea for all of you distributors to drop directly into your business and how to differentiate yourself from all the national competitors, your local competitors, your regional competitors and even Amazon. I hope you enjoy it.
So, in the internet marketing world, there’s this concept called affiliate marketing. So, stay with me here because this has a significant correlation to your B2B business. Basically, what affiliate marketing means is that someone has a product that they want to sell, so they sell it on their own and then after selling it on their own they partner with individuals who market and sell those same products. In exchange, those “affiliate marketers” as we call them, they get anywhere from 20 to 50 percent of the profits.
Affiliate marketers are very strong marketers, but typically they don’t build their own products. The problem for an affiliate marketer is that when you find a really good product that sells really well, other affiliate marketers pile onto that product, and it dilutes the market. It is really difficult to sell the same product that 50 other people are selling, and very hard to differentiate yourself from the others. I think this probably sounds familiar. Distributors are resellers, and in many ways, they are basically affiliates of the manufacturers and brands they represent.
In the internet marketing world, if you want to be a great affiliate, you have to do something creative. You have to take a product that’s selling well and figure out how to enhance that product so that it’s unique from everyone else.
So, as an affiliate marketer, you would look at the reviews of the product, work with customers to figure out what questions they have about the product and the problems they have and how they’re actually going to use the product. Then, take that feedback and they create a bundle of products with an affiliate offer.
For example, they’d write a how-to guide, training videos on how to use the product, or innovative ways of how to use that product in their market. They create a bundle, or what we call in the internet marketing world, a unique offer. All of a sudden, you have a new product that’s differentiated from everyone that’s selling their product.
So listen, distributors, you sell products that other distributors sell. You might even have the same product data as another distributor has or lots of distributors have. How are you going to differentiate yourself? How are you going to differentiate your products [and] your product detail page from everyone else?
One way of doing it is by price. I’m gonna make my product cheaper than everybody else. But that’s just a race to the bottom, isn’t it? So, let me lay out a number of steps that you can take as a distributor to do the same process that affiliate marketers do.
First of all, start by identifying 50 high-cost items, high-margin items. These items probably have to be over a hundred dollars. These products have to be products that you actually sell off-line. Meaning, we don’t want to find products that are duds, we want to find products that are selling offline to our current customers.
Step two, pick one product out of those fifty and start looking for reviews online. Look on message forums. Go onto Amazon. If their product exists on Amazon, pull that product up and look at the reviews, and even more importantly, look at all the questions and answers. Towards the bottom of the product detail page of Amazon there is a whole question and answer section. That’s where people can ask questions, and the vendors can answer them, and other people can answer the same questions.
What you’re looking for is products and questions that you can answer and bundle together. Start talking to customers who have bought the product from you. You have an advantage here, you have customers who have bought this specific product. Talk to them, how do they use the product? How could it be improved? How could the product be improved? What applications do they use that product in? Do they use the product in any unique or innovative ways?
Step three is you start brainstorming what you can bundle with that product to help the customer do their job easier. That’s what we’re trying to do, help a customer do their job easier. Maybe it’s as simple as answering questions on the product detail page. Have you thought about doing that? Have you thought about taking the frequently asked questions and actually putting that on your product detail page? You don’t have to do a sophisticated Q&A box like Amazon does, but you could answer the questions proactively on that product detail page.
That’s a great first step, but I do think you could probably do better. Is there some kind of low-cost product that you can bundle with this larger product? For example, if a product is often installed in dark places, can you offer a headlamp or a flashlight? Something that’s low-cost, but problem-solving. Can you offer a training course on how to install it? Maybe two or three videos, or a White Paper or an eBook about how to actually install and use this product? For you distributors that offer services along with products, is there a service that you can bundle with this product to help them do their job easier?
You see what we’re doing here? We’re bundling lots of things together. We’re creating a unique offer. We’re creating a unique product that can be differentiated from everybody else’s out there.
Step four, is now you go back to your customer. So, when you were originally interviewing your customers and you were asking these things, they probably didn’t know what you should bundle with it. But now that you have this bundle, present it to them, and say, “Listen, customers, can you give us feedback on it? Would this be beneficial to you? Can you see yourself buying this product with this service/training with this additional product added to the mix?”
A lot of times customers can’t visualize what a bundle would look like, but after seeing a bundle of products, they will definitely give you feedback like, “Yeah, that’s great,” or, “Yeah, that’s not very appropriate. We can’t really use a headlamp in that situation because of this situation.” So, go back to your customer and present this bundle and get their suggestions and feedback on it.
Step five is to launch your product, build that product detail page and launch that product on your site.
Step six is to use analytics to track the before and after. That means you have to have analytics in place already, right? You have to be able to see conversion rates for a product, see what people are searching for and if your product shows up in the search results. Use analytics to track the before and after and see if you get a lift in conversion rates by using your new bundle.
So now you’ve done this for one product, so step seven is to rinse and repeat for all the other 49 products, or 10 products, or 15, or whatever number you want.
Now, what do you have? You have this bundle of unique, differentiated product. Now you have this opportunity to change it up and watch conversion rates change for that product. You can create different bundles for different seasons; a different bundle for the summer versus the winter. You can bundle versus margin. You can bundle for special events. So, say you have the Super Bowl or a big event coming to your city, you can create bundles that are appropriate. If you know a lot about your customer, maybe there’s something you can bundle for their favorite sports teams or something that’s personal to them versus work.
This is your opportunity to test and look and watch analytics and rinse and repeat and optimize for your new product offer. Isn’t that really cool? Isn’t that a great idea? Many distributors want to build more product as a service. Don’t believe this race to the bottom in price.
I think if you create the right type of bundles you can even charge more for this new bundle or this new offer. This is how you can create products as a service. You’re bundling everything together to help them do their job as easily as possible. And, we know that if we help a customer do their job easier, they’ll come back. And, if they come back, they’ll spend more.
So quick recap: talk to your customers, do research on the product, see what problems exist and then brainstorm and find ways of bundling more things together to create a unique product. Take it back to your customers, get their feedback, launch your product, and use analytics to track everything and watch your conversion rate go up or down, but now you know how to tweak it.
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