Whatever product or service you’re pitching, someone else is delivering it as well. In that environment, where most of us spend our time, it can be easy to backslide and become a commodity in the eyes of your customers. What do we mean by a commodity? In the definition we’re leaning into, your brand becoming a commodity means being seen as “a mass-produced unspecialized product.”
What causes this backsliding? When customers don’t understand your value proposition, and you’re not clearly communicating the unique benefits you bring to the table that are different from your competitors, you become a commodity. When customers can’t see the added value you’re providing them, they start purchasing based on price or easy accessibility alone.
Let’s use this example. I can buy a bike from the pros at my local bike shop or find one on Amazon and have it shipped to my door. In either case, I get a bike… and in some cases, I might get the exact same bike. Same frame, same tires, same seat… no difference. If that’s the case, why would I go to the bike shop? Easy. They add value.
Walk into the bike shop, and you’re greeted by someone who knows bikes… like really knows them. You tell them what you are looking for and what you think you want, and they ask you some questions. Where are you going to bike, in the dirt or on the roads? How much experience do you have biking? What’s most important to you, comfort or performance? Let’s get you on a couple of bikes and explore the fit… Soon you realize that if you had just ordered your new bike online, you would have chosen the wrong bike. That’s value-add number one.
So, you get your new bike home and ride it for a season. It is awesome in every way you expect, but eventually, it needs a tune-up. So, you bring it back to the bike shop and have the experts tune it up for you. They clean it up, check the cables and gears, lubricate it, and adjust the wheels. Because they know what they’re doing, you’re now ready for another season of great biking. That’s the second value-add.
As you’re walking out the door from your tune-up, they ask you if you know the local trails. You don’t, so the bike shop pro grabs you a map and shares with you all the great local places to ride. He knows his stuff and shares his knowledge with you willingly. That’s value-add number three.
You could have picked up your bike anywhere. The value-add that the bike shop provides in all of these forms is what prevents the bike shop brand from becoming a commodity. Their value-add, and the full experience they deliver, differentiate them. All they have to do is communicate that experience to customers so they know what they can expect.
What’s your value-add? If you want to prevent being seen as a commodity in your space, get clear on where you add the most value, and then double down on communicating that through your marketing.