Commoditization Your Problem? - Bob Sherman

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Cover image for  article: Commoditization Your Problem? - Bob Sherman

Do you sell corn, or sweet Jersey corn? Do you sell potatoes or Idaho potatoes?

Has the commoditization of your product or service got you down or is your inability to differentiate it from the pretenders holding you down? A few days ago, WCBS-AM Newsradio in New York, aired a feature by Ray Hoffman of the Wall Street Journal. Mr. Hoffman was reporting the thoughts of the CEO of Priceline about the complaint of commoditization, and its painful effects on profits.

The answer offered...differentiation.

Look, you sell either a piece of meat or sirloin, a bushel of wheat or a bushel of super fine, no toxins Kansas wheat, cars or Cadillac's.

You hit and run, or you are there every step of the way with your client from order to renewal. You sell "as is" or "satisfaction guaranteed or your money back." You make a difference in his success potential or it's "every man for himself."

If your product or service is above the pack, and especially if you own that reputation and it's verifiable, you can't be commoditized. You're different, unique and uncommon and so "Please Mr. Jones, may we discuss the value to you that I bring to the table? Because I promise you, it's very different than those you are comparing me to--like apples and...."

Here's a letter that one of our well trained, genuine and talented managers received just this week from a client:

From: Dawn M Richardson
Sent: Monday, March 14, 2011 1:06 PM
To: 'Tim Miller'
Subject: RE: Tim Miller Calling

Tim, I must tell you that I do believe that you are on my side. I don’t believe that I’ve just begun working with you but I have made a friend too. I appreciate your sincerity and honesty. I look forward to a long working relationship with you...

My guess is that Tim's price will be discussed, but without reference to another guy's price, because the other guy is not Tim. He's different, not a commodity.

Great Selling!

Bob Sherman has 40 years experience managing relationships between media companies and advertisers in old and new media from radio, cable and TV to the Internet, and from sales executive to chief executive and from the biggest media corporations to his own entrepreneurial companies. He is currently in partnership with Pilot Group, LLC. Bob can be reached at

Read all Bob's MediaBizBloggers commentaries at Great Sellers Go To Heaven.

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