Michael Porter defines overall cost leadership as producing a same or better quality product for the consumer at a better value. The company that I work for offers marketing, branding, and media services to consumers. My role within the company is as the marketing manager. We consider our prices to be aligned based on industry standard prices. This doesn’t mean that we match prices, but that we choose competitive prices that can be affordable and beneficial to both our company and the potential customer. Considering the industry is somewhat polluted with low-cost and cheap alternatives, it is difficult to understand or explain to a consumer that we offer a better service than the competition. Because of this, we base our marketing on understanding the consumers’ needs and adapting and selling toward that point. For instance, a consumer who only seeks to keep cost down, will rarely select our company considering freelancers will always present a lower value. For consumers looking for high-quality results, we often focus our sales pitches on our strengths, which include presenting examples, providing references, and feeding the customer with knowledge. While our cost advantages will fit within the median of the industry norm, our quality is considered to be very competitive. By having better quality, business experience, and educating customers, we can sell our experience through strategic marketing plans. The difficulty of gaining the attention of the consumer is not whether or not we are competitive, but how well we know our customers. We’ve found in the past that trying to please everyone was a difficult task. Our prices would never be cheap enough, and our quality could often be too overwhelming. By focusing our attention on our key customer demographics, we were able to put together a competitive package, at an affordable price for our desired consumer.
Porter explains that businesses can beat competition by offering products or services that are unique to the industry and competition. In trying to differentiate ourselves, in the past we have run into issues with consumers not fully understanding the change or differentiator. By offering unique products or services, we can gain new customers. Considering we are in a service oriented industry, we have to educate our customers on why we are making a change and how it affects them. In addition, considering our industry is one in which consumers will never fully understand in depth, creating a differentiator can be difficult for this reason. A setback of creating a differentiator is in dealing with companies that will eventually imitate our unique value if it is deemed successful and sought after by consumers. The more services we add on, the more our customers will become skeptical in the sense that we may be nickel-and-diming them for things that they believe they don’t really need to achieve success. To resolve this, we can take precautions and carefully educate our clients on what it is that we offer and the importance of the additional service(s). In addition, we have to explain the positive and negatives of implementing the service into their monthly budget. We have not found difficulty in creating a differentiator, but we have had trouble figuring out how to explain the differentiator to the consumer and why they need something that they may not understand, the competitor doesn’t offer, and will likely cost more money. However, we can improve this confusion by explaining to the consumer that being different is better.
Porter states that business focus is based on not trying to satisfy all customer demographics by offering too many products or services. Instead, businesses should focus on limiting their products or services and marketing them to a niche customer base. There are many options to focus within my company. We could focus on a particular service such as design, marketing, or media management. However, we have done this is the past and we have instead transformed our marketing firm into a full and complete branding firm. The reason behind this is because consumers who come to us with a simple business plan will likely need help in executing the plan entirely and not just a portion. For instance, if a customer came for a web design, but wanted marketing service also, we would be limiting our services and possibly pushing our clients to competing firms that do offer full services. We have discovered that consumers do not like dealing with multiple people or companies in order to complete one task. By offering them everything they need and managing what they can’t, we build strong and lasting relationships with our customers. Nonetheless, we do focus on making sure that each customer is equally fulfilled with their service. For instance, all of our web designs use content management systems and our online marketing techniques use focused strategies such as Google, and Yahoo rank, as well as Facebook and Twitter. We are focused in our knowledge and understand the importance of marketing and creating success for all customers on the most targeted social networks, search engines, and by using industry standard methods to achieve our results.
Overall, Porter makes good points that businesses should implement better quality at competitive prices, present unique services, and focus on niche products and services to market toward a desired consumer. Within my company, while we have implemented a few of these strategies, we still have plenty to learn in this ever-changing industry and until we are the leading branding firm that we desire to be, there will always be room for improvement.