More Software Products, More Differentiation
“It’s a site-eat-site world,” the Wall Street Journal tells us. Jack Trout includes this quotation in his book “Differentiate or Die – Survival in Our Era of Killer Competition.” And the context of this quotation is that “breadth of line is a difficult way to differentiate.”
Some companies, Trout points out, have used the range of their product line to differentiate and grow. He cites Toys R Us as an example. When parents don’t know what to buy for their kids, they visit a store that sells a lot of toys.
Category killers, or stores that sell everything at low prices, were quite a fad for a number of years. But now, specialty stores are making a comeback.
The Internet dominates many of our marketing decisions, Trout tells us. It’s easier for some stores to sell an enormous variety of products online. As a result, lots of stores have adopted this “breadth of line” approach to marketing. And since most of them have similarly configured competitors, they’ve started competing with each other on price.
Trout recommends that we not choose breadth of line as our differentiator because it’s too easy for competitors to copy our strategy.
I doubt that Trout would object to software developers creating a family of products – for example, light, standard, professional, and enterprise versions of an application.
And I doubt that Trout would advise us against creating a comprehensive range of applications in a particular field – for example, password recovery software for many popular application packages.
But don’t try to create software for every user on the planet. You’ll find that consumers will have difficulty figuring out your company’s brand. And you’ll find yourself competing with other software developers on the basis of price.
– by Al Harberg, the Software Marketing Blog guy