The company that solves a problem in the cheapest, simplest and smartest way – and markets it effectively – is the winning company. Before you start building brand value and intangible value propositions, your core product has to be in place and well defined. Well defined for users and prospective users, and well defined for the company itself. Creating the best product that is superior to every one of your competitors is your task.
Online products are not physical products!
With the rise of online products, new marketing rules have arisen, too. Old branding and positioning strategies have to be adapted to the new rules and realities of online products. The virtual world is far more complex than the one so familiar to traditional marketers and entrepreneurs.
A physical product can be copied, and so can its marketing; an online software company cannot be copied with that ease. You can copy a company’s ideas, and even create products that are near-copies of someone else’s, however, a company’s philosophy, its team, the way it does business and cares for customers, and the underlying technical details of its products combine to make all the difference.
This is especially true with software companies and the soft- ware they offer. Why? Because you cannot copy the mindset, the broad concepts underlying that software. These factors embrace and influence such things as usability, load time, navigation and design. And then you have to look at the team behind those broad concepts. The concepts are as tacit (as fundamentally, unspokenly understood) as the concept of how to walk. It all looks simple enough, but it takes a year to learn to walk, and you cannot learn just by watching others do it – you have to stand up and do it yourself! There may be a misstep, or a fall or two, but before you know it, you’ll be running ahead of the pack.
Many people who specialize in the theory of brand strategy – consultants who have no technical background – like to talk about value propositions, and shift focus to product features. In their eyes, these are tangible and easily copied. But in the new realities of this technical era, intangible elements and fea- tures are increasingly important, and are part of a product’s inherent value.
Again, features that are part of a product’s user interface, of the overall concept and logic behind it, cannot be easily replicated. Each feature is a part of the larger “web” – the whole intricate complex of product concept and rationale – and extremely difficult to copy.
Take some of Apple’s products, for example. It seems like it ought to be rather easy for someone else to make a very thin, aluminum laptop. But somehow, no one has done it yet
– not in a way that matches Apple. In this arena, Apple is al- ways miles ahead of the PC competition. And here we’re only talking about product functions.
Yes, PCs represent a BIG brand, but still – a design that matches Apple’s? No way! So features may sometimes be cop- ied, but if they are unique enough with high-value features, it’s highly unlikely that a competitor will ever manage to copy them and bring them together into a well-integrated whole product that even approaches the value of the original.
Conclusion: Focus on your product and its features, ensur- ing that they are always aligned with your core idea, and are:
• easily used by your targeted customers
• of high quality, superior to what your competitors offer
• true and excellent value to your customers
How to choose features to be developed:
The fundamental goal of product development is value. Will a feature you’re considering for development give users great- er value? Will users appreciate the direction of the develop- ment and the specific feature? These are simple questions to ask yourself when considering new features.