How to stand out in a crowded marketplace

The Royal Commission into the Banking sector is uncovering a worrying trend in Australian and global corporate strategy. Recent probing within financial services show that a lack of market forces has led to a relaxed focus on providing customers with real value, which has led a lot of enterprises to focus on increased efficiencies and profit without the focus of their customers’ needs.

It’s an interesting time to be in business; on one hand, we have complacency from enterprise corporations who are happy to ride the inertia of the past 40-odd years of market performance, while on the other hand, we have amazing start-up success stories coming out globally that are disrupting the corporates’ inertial trajectories and creating real waves within many industries, none more-so than financial services.

The one constant that runs through every story of start-up success or enterprise resilience, especially in sectors that are tired, boring, and benchmarked with the same marketing and branding strategies, is a focus on the Customer Experience (CX). CX is a framework which focuses on strengthening the commercial relationship between a brand and a customer by delivering a holistic experience beyond just the transaction and use cycles.

CX leads to greater chances for value exchange, greater brand differentiation, and higher perceived market value. It is the driving force behind successful and well-recognised businesses such as McDonalds, Red Bull, and Nike, who have all been able to make their mark on a certain experience and its associated emotions and perceived rationales to cement themselves as leaders within already-crowded marketplaces.

As more businesses seek to implement CX in order to create a sustainable, successful, and reputable brand, there are a few key elements that should to be considered:

  1. Focus on the experience

Focus on the experience surrounding your product or service. Joe Pine, one of the pioneers of CX, talks about how the gumball machine turned gum from a product into an experience by charging a premium on gum just so kids could watch it roll down a spiral. It is the “fun experience” associated with gum that made it exciting, not the actual product itself. What is your “gumball machine” that you can add into your offering in order to turn it from a commodity into an experience?

  1. Create a feeling

Don’t disregard the role of emotion when creating your branded experience, as individuals are likely to remember how they felt, and not just what the products and services features and benefits were. As humans, we are highly emotional creatures and we make our decisions based on emotions and perceptions, rather than pure deductive logic. Coca-cola is a perfect example of this, who sell the ability to “open happiness” instead of just a simple soft drink.

  1. Take a stand and own the space

When it comes to CX, you need to understand where your company needs to go from a customer needs perspective and where it wants to go from a visionary perspective, and then you will be able to find a unique and sustainable competitive advantage.

Look to global brands like Dove for inspiration, who, during a time when beauty and health brands promoted idealised views of women, went against the grain and associated their brand with real, natural beauty because that’s what they believed in and that’s what their customers really wanted.

Creating a unique brand in a crowded marketplace can be difficult, and it’s being made even more difficult by brands that don’t follow conventional marketing tactics but instead focus on building via CX frameworks. The good news is that CX isn’t exclusively for small companies and startups, and there are a wide variety of options for SMEs and enterprises to stem the tide of disruption by fighting CX fire with CX fire.

Tom Uhlhorn, Founder and Strategy Director, Tiny CX


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