It’s a competitive world on Amazon, and one in which any product search will turn up dozens if not hundreds of hits. So how can you make your product stand out? In marketing speak, how can you differentiate your product?
First of all, find the gaps and the pain points. Listen out for questions like
• Why don’t women’s clothes ever have pockets in?
• Why can’t I get pie dishes the right size for one person?
Or screams of anguish like
• I love jeans but blue is not a choice of color!
• My hairdryer is either cold or SCORCHING!!!
• I keep losing the wretched little kneading arm on the bread-maker, darn it!
Someone, whoever made this comment, has a problem that your product can solve. Make pretty summer dresses with pockets, single-size pie dishes, screaming pink and neon yellow jeans, hairdryers with five different heat settings all of which work, and you have solved the problem.
(Okay, you need to work out whether that’s just one person’s problem, or whether other people are also crying out for a product to solve that problem. We went on Twitter about the pockets issue. Starting a clothes brand called WITHPOCKETSIN is very, very tempting indeed.)
Look at competitors’ product listings to see what the issues are, too. Sometimes they are just small things that need to be put right, but sometimes you may see a really major gap.
Secondly, look for the value added. Can you bundle products that are often sold separately to make something that’s more useful? This is how tour operators got started – they realized most people don’t want to have to book four plane tickets, two hotel rooms, a load of restaurants and activities … they want to have a simple choice: “us and the two kids, for two weeks.” (This is also why some tour operators came unstuck when websites like Kayak and Lastminute started making it so much easier for people to make up DIY holidays.)
Taking the bread-maker example, I wonder how many people would prefer to buy a bread-maker with two or three extra paddles? That saves them having a useless bread-maker. (Buying replacement paddles is expensive and often difficult.) So that’s value added, or at least, it avoids the subtraction of value!
Adding a recipe book to kitchen equipment or a guide to three simple projects with a craft tool also adds value.
And thirdly, look for a niche. It might be as simple as focusing on black women’s beauty products (most cosmetics assume you have pale skin), or on products for people with RSI or carpal tunnel syndrome (eating implements with large, easy to hold handles, specially laid out computer keyboards). It might be a style niche (luggage for Goths and Emos, perhaps?) or a special interest niche (quilting, scrap-booking, home brewing).
Most people who inhabit niches get tired of products that are almost, but not quite, right, or have to put together their kit from numerous different places, sometimes making compromises (implements that are usable but ugly, brewing kit that’s been adapted from jam making purposes). Offer them a brand that clearly understands their lifestyle/needs/interests/style, and they will come back over and over again.
Any one of these ways of differentiating is good. Two would be even better!
Of course you can also differentiate by being cheaper than everyone else, to some extent. But it’s much easier for a competitor to change that in two clicks. It also reduces your profit margin. So if you can differentiate by fixing problems, filling gaps, adding value, or dominating a niche, that’s definitely the right way to go.