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Do you understand your digital differentiation?

 

It pains me to have to tell clients the bad news. But I frequently have to deliver bad news.

They call me in, asking me why their digital marketing isn’t working and all-too-often one of the problems is lack of differentiation. It’s not even simply that their products are not differentiated, but often I find that they don’t even know what differentiation really is.

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Clients tell me that their products are differentiated. They then go on to list all the ways that their products are different from their competitors’ products. And being different is part of being differentiated–but only part.

Face it. Every product is different from every other product if you ask the people who make it. They can always tell you how it is better.

I like to tease my children they are unique, just like everyone else. And your products are unique, just like everyone else’s. That doesn’t mean your products are differentiated.

Differentiation is much more than mere difference. Differentiation is a difference that your market will pay for.

Differentiation has always been important, but never more so than with the advent of digital marketing. Digital marketing puts every product the same distance from your market. They are all out there.

Too often, marketers want to appeal to everyone. They want reach. They want mass appeal. But that makes sense only after you have already hit it big. Then your marketing segmentation can be “anyone with a neck.” But before then, it is much better to dominate a small segment than to sell a little bit into every segment–especially when you market online.

Online, if you dominate a small segment, you suddenly know the topics of your content marketing. You know your search keywords. You know your messages. You know what to say to your audience because you know what they want to know.

Don’t settle for mere difference. Differentiation is what really leads to success.

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in digital marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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