Product Differentiation is More Than the Widgets you Sell!

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Product Differentiation is More Than the Widgets you Sell!

Product differentiationEver think of yourself as a product in the business context? Well, you can be a source of product differentiation in the organisation; regardless of position. In fact, you already are, whether you know it or not.

I was surprised the first time a student I didn’t know approached me at University and said “You must be Robyn”. I said “I don’t think we’ve met so how do you know my name?” To which they replied, “Well, you are the only person on the entire campus with bright blue hair!”

By wearing my hair short and spiky and dying it electric blue I suppose I was making a statement. Add to that an extrovert personality and loud clothes and I can see why I stood out from the crowd.

What’s interesting is that I’m not an exhibitionist and I wasn’t ‘trying’ to draw attention to myself. People noticed me because I looked different from all the other students. And it occurs to me, many years later that people are making judgements about us all the time; based on what they see.

Being a student is the best possible time to experiment and to embark on a journey of self-discovery. And with employment comes responsibility. Moreover, it’s important that our behaviour reflects the vision and values of our employer.

Product differentiation applies internally as well as externally   

Organisations invest a lot to distinguish their products and services from their competitors. And often they forget the importance of differentiating between the company’s own products too. And that includes their employees.

When the business is small, every appointment is meaningful. You have identified a specific need. And without that skill or resource you recognise that the company cannot thrive. As the business grows we see the need for more heads. Either we require fresh blood with new skills; or we recruit more bodies to fulfil similar roles.

And I think that’s where the real people challenges begin. Because the more employees you have on your books, the more removed you are from their reality. That being the case, it’s essential to remind yourself why each role is critical to the business. Also, it’s important to remind people how you expect them to behave; as a representative of the company.

Remember, the selection process is not the only time employees need to hear what the position entails and how you will both know they are performing in the role. Line managers have to reinforce those behaviours at regular intervals. And you must acknowledge their achievements if you want people to sustain those good behaviours; for the benefit of all.

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