A selection from the new book: Different Rules – the B2B Marketer’s Guidebook to Product Differentiation
In B2B marketing, being different is better than being better, or even best!
By Chris Wirthwein
People – all of us – have been programmed to automatically, irresistibly and involuntarily stop in our tracks when we encounter something different. Credit this hyper-sensitivity to spotting differences for the survival of the human species. This fact hardly requires proof. but, just in case, consider this scene:
It’s 2:00 AM in the city. Alone, you walk briskly down a dimly lit, seemingly deserted street. Without warning, out from the blackness of the alley ahead of you, darts a shadow. Instantly your brain signals RED ALERT. It shouts, “PAY ATTENTION!! Unconsciously, your body’s defense mechanisms leap into action – adrenaline spikes, heart rate increases, blood flow diverts to muscles, breathing shallows, eyesight, hearing and smell sharpen. Automatically, involuntarily, your body has armed itself for fight or flight.
All because you noticed something different.
As good fortune would have it, in this made-up example, I’ll make the mysterious apparition a harmless alley cat. Disaster averted, but point made, hopefully. And the point is this: to animals – all animals, including humans – different stands out. Different grabs attention. Different unconsciously engages our brains and bodies; we can’t prevent or stop this. Different engages our mind and body at its deepest animal core. When we encounter something different, we pay acute attention. You noticed the different italic typeface I used, yes?
So, what happens when a prospective customer becomes exposed to something different about a product you market? Do they react like the person in our late-night example above? Not precisely, but for our purposes, the answer is still yes. While a product difference may not trigger an adrenaline rush to the body, researchers tell us different will be noticed. It will seize the prospect’s attention.
Harvard Business School’s Youngme Moon, author of Different. Escaping the Competitive Herd, perhaps said it best with this: “…the way to think about differentiation is not as an offspring of competition, but as an escape from competition altogether.” What makes your product different? Tell the world.
Chris Wirthwein is Senior Director for 5MetaCom, a marketing agency that develops strategies and campaigns to differentiate B2B technical and scientific products. He has authored three marketing books, including his latest, Different Rules: The B2B Marketer’s Guidebook to Product Differentiation. You can reach Chris on LinkedIn or at firstname.lastname@example.org.