I have had a handful of discussions with clients and peers lately about how to differentiate products or services in the marketplace. Those same discussions seem to lead to the age-old themes of:
- Being all things to all people VS Limited focus
- Expertise VS Generalist
I think a key part of solving the challenge of differentiating a product or service offering is the size of the market that a business is trying to capture. Consider the following. Newly defined large markets start as the “Wild West”. Early entry businesses can afford to market themselves as being all things to all people or generalists. As markets mature, smaller niches are carved off by competitors. Expertise, focus and differentiation become requirements to consistently win business.
I suggest businesses start at the end and work backward as they try to differentiate their product or service offering. Start by going after a very limited, unique market and a laser focus. If the product or service offering has already captured a meaningful portion of that small market, thoughtfully expand the boundaries until the total market size allows room for future growth.
Being a generalist without focus, expertise and differentiation in any market is rarely a recipe for success.