100% reached! Thank you all! Now I have the funds to start production. As suggested - see comments - I have now a stretch goal! 200% will give me the chance to improve the graphic design of the cards, and start the production of an Italian version as well!
Does marketing need a refresh? I don't think so.
To create a good strategy you still need the 4 Ps - Product, Price, Place, Promotion. You may wanna add some more Ps, such as People, Process etc.
Still, you need to create the perfect marketing mix to succeed. How?
My bet is on differentiation. If the result of your marketing strategy is a product or service that is different from the competitors, you will win. How?
Just go through your product/service characteristics, or your company characteristics, or people or market characteristics. Find what concretely makes your product unique.
To help you do that, I have created this marketing card deck, based on the concept of Marketing Distinguo, that I also had the chance to discuss with professor Philip Kotler.
This is what the father of marketing said about the concept of Marketing Distinguo: “...a process to finally come to the differentiation you need". Prof. Philip Kotler
Marketing Distinguo cards is an analogue framework of 40 cards you can use to find the factor which differentiates a specific product/service/brand/person from its competition.
In each deck you will find:
- 17 product / service cards
- 12 company cards
- 7 people cards
- 4 industry cards
- 1 booklet with instructions
Introduction to the Marketing Distinguo concept
Marketing Distinguo is a simple process to answer the most difficult question: “Why should I buy your company’s product rather than your competitor’s?”
This is the question every marketer should be asking for first. Unfortunately, the answer to the question is almost always “I don’t know” or “I don’t know how to determine it”. Another common answer is “Because we’re the best!”, but it is often said in an ironic tone, demonstrating the lack of preparation on the issue. Other typical responses include “We have no competitors”, or “The problem isn't our competitors, but a market that doesn't understand our product”, or even “We know our strengths, but potential customers don't understand them”.
Each of these answers shares a common denominator: it always seems to be the first time they have been asked the question.
If the market doesn’t understand the product being offered, serious mistakes can be made with the marketing plan. Similarly, if the company enjoys a clear competitive advantage which isn’t being noted by their customers, the communications strategy also needs to be reviewed.
Many papers have underlined how important it is to diversify your product, brand and even business model. However, there is no concept that provides a method you can use to examine the actual characteristics of the product/service or company in order to identify its distinctive features.
Marketing Distinguo is the glue concept holding together Positioning - the “place” the brand occupies in the consumer’s mind - and Unique Selling Proposition - the creative execution of Positioning in advertising. The combination of these two well known concepts forms the foundation of effective marketing and communications.
In simple words, Marketing Distinguo is a method to find the factor which differentiates a specific product/service/brand/person from its competition. Concrete terms that your customers will recognize, terms that your agency can develop in a creative USP.
Marketing Distinguo is also an element of the Visual Communication Planner, a visual tool to analyze, outline and display the web communication strategy of your company - or customers if you are an agency - in a way everyone can understand.
"This article has good examples, stories, a new theory, but also a process to finally come to the differentiation you need".
Prof. Philip Kotler
Why the card deck
Consulting hundreds of companies in Italy and Europe about Marketing and Communication I realized that an analogue tool is the best way to let entrepreneurs and managers understand their marketing strategy.
The first step has been to create the Visual Communication Planner (VCP). An A3 old-fashioned sheet of paper that does one very simple thing: forcing you to write down the communication strategy. A digital printable copy of the Visual Communication Planner is included in all rewards.
Then I realized that Positioning - included in the first version of the VCP - was still a concept too difficult to understand for those without a marketing background. So I came up with the Marketing Distinguo, that is not only a concept but a method - a process - as well. Since the VCP really helped me and my clients - besides over 1,800 colleagues that downloaded it so far - I decided that Marketing Distinguo must have a physical representation as well.
Cards are the best way to let the marketing team play and reflect and outline the Marketing Distinguo. A colourful tool for entrepreneurs, marketers and consultants.
The process and the cards
If you have a company, take a look at your logo payoff. Or the first sentence on your website.
If you are a consultant or an agency, just do the same for one of your customers. Random.
I bet you have found at least one of these common keywords:
- innovation / innovative
- turnkey solution
- knowledge / competence
- top / leader / the best
- since 19xx
- creativity / design
Did I win? You just entered the first step of the process: write down keywords you normally use in communication. You will find this list of keywords in the instruction booklet. To write your keywords you can use a basic notebook or the back of the Visual Communication Planner.
Once you’ll be done with the Marketing Distinguo process, you will not need to use ever again these words in your website, brochures, business cards, etc.
Why? Because at the end of the process you will precisely outline every single aspect that defines those keywords in concrete.
Please note you can avoid the first step and go directly through the cards - step two.
What’s next? Second step is to use the sets of cards to examine in detail those keywords. The deck is composed by four sets of cards, each one distinguished by a color:
- product / service characteristics, yellow set
- company characteristics, blue set
- people characteristics, green set
- industry characteristics, red set
Write your keywords in a sheet of paper - possibly A3 format, it could also be the back of a Visual Communication Planner - and browse one by one all cards. Lay the card or cards that can help you specify your unique characteristics aside each keywords.
You can also take some notes aside each card to help you discard those characteristics that are not unique, compared to your competitors. It is helpful to do this comparison while you are browsing cards, but you can do it also as a third step.
The card - or cards - left on your table are those identifying your Marketing Distinguo. You will find that the notes you wrote aside the remaining cards are defining your company/product/service in a way you didn’t think before. Or maybe you did, but you couldn’t write them down.
Last step: gather your notes in something that looks like a claim. It is not very different from the original one, containing those common keywords, is it? But it doesn’t contain them. If you did a very good job, you read your claim and one of those keywords come into your mind, naturally. If not, just let your agency do the trick! You have already gone very far, defining your Marketing Distinguo.
Take the word innovation, or innovative. You may find it on a website of a company that projects and produces the most advanced robotic systems for the mechanical industry, as well as on a flyer in the entrance of an ice cream shop.
Take the yellow set of cards. It contains your product/service characteristics.
What does make your product, your service or your company innovative? Do you have any patent, of special procedures that anyone has?
If yes, place matching cards aside these keywords.
Are these characteristics unique against your competitors?
If yes, take note of the number of these patents or the specific procedures that make your product unique.
Do you have a Research and Development team?
If yes, place the matching card as well, and take your notes aside it:
- how many engineers in your team?
- how many projects they put on the market?
Take another set of card, for example the green one. It contains your people characteristics.
Do your employees have specific skills that can result as a concrete value for your customers?
Can this characteristic make you unique?
Last step: gather your notes.
“80% of our engineers are focusing on R&D: 4 new patents in the last 2 years”.
That's a sentence that indicates innovation. And, guess what, the word “innovation” is not mentioned.
Could it be more creative? For sure. But that’s the job of the Unique Selling Proposition: a creative execution for your Marketing Distinguo. It will be easier for an agency to find the perfect claim, starting from the Marketing Distinguo, instead of the Positioning. Most of the time, Positioning is not the perception of the customers, but just the one of the entrepreneur or the manager. Rarely a company finds the budget to finance a semantic differential questionnaire to check the Positioning of its brand/product.
To find your Marketing Distinguo you just need this set of cards.
B2C companies should define a Marketing Distinguo for each product or market segment.
Brand value can be one of the Marketing Distinguo elements but cannot be considered the unique strenght of a B2C company.
Defined by GoingGlobal UK: "LEADING EXPERT IN INTERNATIONAL DIGITAL MARKETING STRATEGIES".
I am a co-founder of Weevo S.r.l., the Italian web agency specializing in the international market approach through Social Media. I am engaged in Marketing, Communication and Sales, I am a Digital Strategic Planner, journalist and Communications Designer.
I am the only Italian who accomplished the MIT Digital Business Strategy Executive Program about Digital Transformation (Massachusetts Institute of Technology).
I also collaborate as a lecturer with several Chamber of Commerces in Italy, events and exhibitions in Italy and Europe, with 24Ore Business School, Ninja Academy, and several Italian universities.
I am the co-publisher and columnist of Il Giornale delle PMI, the Italian online magazine dedicated to small and medium-sized businesses. My book, "Strategie web per i mercati esteri" (Digital Strategies for International Markets), has been published by Hoepli (Italy) in 2016.
Please note that the card deck graphic design - box, cards and booklet - can be different from this preview once it will be printed.
Free with all rewards
Visual Communication Planner digital download
The Visual Communication Planner (VCP) is an analogue tool that helps you define the digital strategy for your company. Marketing Distinguo is one of the elements of the VCP. Available in English and Italian.
- Printable VCP on A3 PDF format - digital download
Risks and challenges
The first time I met Prof. Philip Kotler I was like a child going to the biggest theme park ever. I had the chance to talk with him about several topics, about my book - which contains the Visual Communication Planner - and about the Marketing Distinguo. What he said was enough for me to keep refining the concept, evolving it, and eventually came up with the cards idea.
Marketing Distinguo is a concept that needs to be put on paper, and paper needs money. I chose Kickstarter because I believe that crowdfunding is nowadays one of the best sources for a company or a project.
Also, I hope that people who will support this project will take advantage of the concept and the process to improve their business or help their clients.
- (30 days)