In March of 2020 business as we knew it changed, probably forever. The question is, what are we going to do about it? There are several options available; do nothing different, run and hide, or seize this as the opportunity that it is and become better. I recommend the latter. A key to becoming better is to determine how to differentiate your company from your competition.
There are primarily 7 ways to differentiate:
- Product Differentiation– Can you use Innovation to design new products or modify existing products? IMEC introduced an Innovation Voucher Program specifically to aid and assist manufacturers in this process.
- Physical characteristics such as size, weight, power, and efficiency are certainly ways to differentiate
- User interface
- Remote diagnostics
- Design simplification/fewer parts
- Ease of installation
- Cost/ease of manufacture
- On time delivery
- Customer support
- Ease of ordering
- Payment terms
- Speed of delivery
- Quick technical support
- Installation services
- Spare parts
- Product literature
- White papers
- Trade shows
- Social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.)
- Price based on margin/profit expectations
- Price by market/segment
- Price by geography
- Base price with options
- Do they feel safe?
- Do you produce a quality product?
- Do you provide the tools and resources allowing for success?
- Is there a periodic Employee Engagement Survey?
- Is there a periodic Leadership Needs Analysis?
- Are there visible career paths?
- Are you training the leaders of the future?
Relationship and Service Differentiation must be part of your company’s culture and driven from the top. Image / Reputation Differentiation take time and thoughtful consideration to develop. It also changes over time and should be somewhat flexible and adaptable. Distribution Differentiation is strategic in nature and may be trial and error in the beginning. Product Differentiation is also strategic and absolutely an ongoing process. It takes commitment to continually evaluate customers, markets, competition and changes in technology and regulations. Price Differentiation is straight forward and should be easy. Workplace Differentiation is the most important of the seven. Without it the other six will be much more difficult to achieve.
Let’s be realistic – you can’t do all seven at once. As a business leader you need to prioritize based on the reality of your current situation and the direction you want the company to go. I’ll give you a hint. Workplace Differentiation is your top priority. You will also need to budget accordingly with available resources. Discuss the need for a new Strategic Plan, because if you have one in place, it needs to change.
Take a deep breath, you don’t need to do this alone. Pull your team together and start outlining areas where you can differentiate your company from your competition. You hired them for a reason, let them be part of the journey.
IMEC can help you answer questions and concerns, and provide guidance on your rebound strategy. Get help from the Illinois Manufacturing Helpline today!