Are your socks different?

As B2B merchandise marketers we often are faced with trying to differentiate our products and services. I have many conversations with clients about their frustration with ever increasing competition and ever eroding gross margins. My message is always the same. Here it is. As marketers our job is to create new (evolved?) products and differentiation where none existed before. Period. Granted, sometimes this is easier to do than at other times. And it is always easier said than done!

I would ask you to remember examples of where product marketers created differentiation where none existed before. My favorite current example is left and right socks. The folks at Keen (www.keenfootwear.com) came up with left and right socks or at least they were the first people to reach me with the offer! A friend (Thank you Chris!) gave me a pair as a gift telling me they were the “coolest thing”. (Note: Word of mouth referrals are everything!) I fell in love with the fit the moment I put them on and they met my left brain, cerebral needs too as they made perfect sense!! My left and right feet are different so why shouldn’t the socks be different? One of those new products (or evolution of an old one!) where I said to myself “why didn’t I think of that?” Now, if you are old enough to remember the previous evolution of socks (Think “gold toe”) you will realize that socks have been reincarnated more than once. Hence, you will also realize that differentiation is a journey not a destination.

So, here is the point! Stop whining about eroding margins and do your job as a marketer! For every “I’m a victim of lower margins” story you want to tell me I will tell you a counter balancing story of creativity, innovation and ingenuity that lead to almost excessive margins. So, knock your socks off and get busy inventing the next big product idea in your business. If you need help, call me.

Terence Jukes is president of B2B Direct Marketing Intelligence LLC, a strategic B2B direct marketing consultancy based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., that services B2B catalog company clients in the U.S., Canada, France, the U.K. and Germany. You can reach him at tjukes@b2bdmi.com or (954) 383-5221

Terence Jukes is president of B2B Direct Marketing Intelligence LLC, a strategic B2B direct marketing consultancy based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., that services B2B catalog company clients in the U.S., Canada, France, the U.K. and Germany. You can reach him at tjukes @ b2bdmi.com or (954) 383-5221

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