Dealing with parity products (Copying is not a marketing strategy)

"This is what our competition is doing. We need that too."

Hold the phone. Start brainstorming before blindly copying your competition. Especially if the products are similar or at parity, that makes marketing and branding an even more important investment.

Some key points to consider when dealing with parity products:

Look into what the competition is doing and evaluate what is effective.

Maybe they are doing videos because they are having a greater return. Maybe it's hard to showcase their product without video or photos. However, just because the competition is doing videos, or any other marketing tactic, does not mean you should start doing the same kind of video.

Changing how things are done in go-to-market, marketing, or delivery of services can be more effective than previous companies. Small changes can make a big difference- just see Dollar Shave Club, Airbnb, or Uber.

Rather than just "copying" a technique, flip the script on the competition by building a buzz about the market by using similar tactics to poke back at the competition. Apple and Microsoft had the budget for this approach. Mac vs. PC made some memorable moments with this type of approach. For more about the rivalry between Apple and Microsoft, check here.

Brainstorm what you want to feature.

Work with key stakeholders to understand the customers, what customers need, and what are the most important features of their product or service to narrow in on what is most important. Advertising can handle one message at a time. By trying to talk about too much, you run the risk of cluttering you advertisement. From TV spots to radio or print, pick one particular advantage or differentiator to focus on before running any ads.

Also, maybe what you need is more content. Reach out to customers or look into popular searches. Maybe when they are looking into your product they are also concerned with how to use it, can it work with other devices, or what pairs well with it. By adding additional site content, you can make your solution or product more relevant to people interested in buying.

Get inspired outside of your competition.

Try and think bigger than your bubble. Developing a new product's packaging? Get inspired with great product packaging that is not necessarily done by your competitors. By thinking outside of what is expected, customers are more likely to respond to your marketing efforts. If your product looks the same as another, you are losing the ability to differentiate yourself from the competition.

You can even get inspired from a completely different industry. I went to a great talk given by Jetco where the CEO said, "We do not think of ourselves as a trucking company." To get workers inspired, they don't compare themselves to other trucking or delivery companies, they compare themselves to astronauts.

What else have you learned about marketing parity products?

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