The Product Thinking Trap


This morning I was searching online for some granite countertops in my hometown of Waco, Texas. Clicking one of the websites I found this mission on the front page of a local company:

Our goal is to provide top-quality, eco-friendly granite, marble, quartz, and recycled glass products.

This is a fine goal to have and a business should have this goal. But is it a selling point; a customer decision factor? Wondering if this is the way granite is sold everywhere, I did a search for granite countertops in a completely different city in Michigan. I found this mission on one of the top results:

Our goal is to provide the highest quality finished product at a fair price within a reasonable amount of time.

Again, a noble goal and there’s nothing wrong with that goal. But what are these businesses selling? “Duh! They are selling granite countertops, Jay.” Exactly. The thing is, I can buy granite countertops anywhere. And if I can buy granite countertops anywhere, where should I buy them? The answer is: If everyone is selling the same thing, then I will buy where I can get the cheapest price.

And that’s the product-thinking trap. Building your brand on your quality products relegates you to competing on price. Because anyone can sell what you sell, and you can bet that someone will be selling it at a lower price. If you want the sale, guess what you’re going to have to do.

What Customers Want

Products are what you sell, but it’s not what customers buy, because they can buy your product anywhere. Customers are looking for something beyond the product or service you happen to sell. They are looking for something more, a promise that goes beyond a transaction. The product is merely the medium through which you establish a relationship with customers.

That’s what you need to be selling: A relationship based an a promise to do more than just sell stuff. And that is what a being a distinct brand is all about. Ultimately it will get you more sales than your quality product.

Are you concentrating too much on your product at the expense of building brand relationships with customers? One indicator is all your advertising features price and product. Another is a mission statement that focuses on quality products. If you want to escape the product-thinking trap, the first step is easy: change your brand’s promise. What can you promise beyond the product or service you happen to sell?

Check out my free recording branding webinar for step in the right branding direction:
Free Branding Webinar: Branding U

Also see: What is a Brand?

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