Is It Really Just About Price? Part II


More and more, we’re being told that everything is a commodity… that the time between invention or innovation and commoditization has been reduced to a fraction of the time we saw just a few years ago.

So we hear that, “gone are the days of under-promise and over-deliver!”

Or…, “your customers are getting squeezed by their customers; they don’t care about anything but the bottom line!”

Yup, the story goes… throw out the marketers, and hire professional negotiators…; all that matters now is the price.

Really. And you heard that from…?

Ahhh, the negotiators…; now I get it.


The truth is, marketing and differentiation are more critical now than ever.

If we haven’t differentiated our products or services on anything other than price, then whose fault is it when the customer can’t tell the difference?

Clearly, this responsibility falls to us as small business owners and marketers.

If we are not successful in defining the unique benefits of our products or services to specific market niches, the result will be the commoditization of those products or services in the mind of the market.

Don’t miss this… because without competitive advantages and differentiation, the inevitable value chain smackdown, in which each successive link in the chain passes along a higher burden to the next in an attempt to recover their costs, could possibly end your business.

At the very least, it will quite probably end your joy.


Yesterday, I spoke of my experiences with a local mega-hardware outlet. You can read about it here. I don’t shop there a lot… in fact, I would generally prefer not to shop there at all.

It’s not that their stuff isn’t cheap… it’s that a lot of their stuff is just, well… cheap.

Stand out in the lumber yard searching for a straight 2×4 for half an hour in -3 degree weather…, and you’ll know what I mean.

The area for ‘returns’ and ‘complaints’ (their name for it) is always bustling. In fact, it’s the first thing that greets you as you walk in.

And yet, that said, it is actually much improved over a few years ago… I can honestly say that they’re trying.

And they’re trying because suddenly they have to.

You see, they have to because there are several other local and regional chain stores who have carved out a prosperous niche right under their nose; right in the very shadow of the giants.

These smaller, and it seems now highly successful, hardware stores are doing it with consistent traffic… customers that are willing to spend 150-300% of the price they would have paid at the big, cheap places five minutes in either direction down the road.

I look forward to speaking with you.



Price is important… just not all-important.

Good marketing is more critical today than it was yesterday.

The fact that you cannot compete with the giants on price, does not mean that you cannot compete with the giants.

A customer that is only concerned about buying the cheapest is probably not an ideal customer for your small business.


Photo Credit:

René Ehrhardt