I always go back to the belief that your brand lives inside your product. It’s the uniqueness of that product that sets the brand apart in the hearts and minds of customers.
Think about it. There are reasons you build your product a certain way or conduct quality control checkpoints in a particular fashion. It isn’t just by accident. Yet I’ve worked with many exceptional brands that have been too close to see the magic or uniqueness in their products and processes. While it’s common to make substantial investments in machinery, tooling, facilities and technology, it is far rarer to identify that differentiation and share it with employees, the sales channel and customers.
We have Technical Immersion Specialists who go into our clients’ operations to do just that. Here’s what we ask clients to help them maximize their Technical Immersion.
– As we move throughout the facility, note the signage, or lack thereof, throughout the plant and the conditions. We want you to look at the operation with fresh eyes, as if we were customers. This may identify areas that need cleaning up, new/better signage, re-painting, etc.
– Share the story behind new machinery. Why was it purchased? What does it do differently or better? What is the advantage not only to you (profit or efficiency, for example) but to the end-user? One of our clients placed signage on their machines that shared what it cost. The leadership clearly illustrated their commitment to efficiency and excellence for employees and customers.
– Make note of additional steps or unique processes you perform to improve the product. For example, if you use the same sound-absorbing foam between wall frames as your competition, but you also apply it over and inside the wall frames themselves, that’s a difference that should be shared! See how Horton Ambulance is differentiating their unique build processes and innovative features.
– Avoid cherry-picking. We ask for total attention when we enter a facility. The engineering and manufacturing leaders must be present and ready. They must avoid cherry-picking the few areas of interest to them, and instead unveil the entire process.
– Don’t just give us the “sales” tour. We want to peek behind the scenes. Share the details you normally think will bore your visitors. Prepare yourself for engaging discussions and probing questions. No question is wrong, and no answer can be too deep or detailed.
– Think like an accountant and list the major investments in the facility. These often reveal more than dollar figures. They point to where the company feels its focus should be.
– In advance, review the warranties offered on your products. Are any of them unique to the industry? We worked with a truck manufacturer that offered a two-year warranty on their truck. So did all their competitors. But they were the only brand offering a lifetime warranty on their frame. Up to that point, they had not once considered promoting that story to customers.
– Come armed with verbatim comments from customers and dealers about the product and plant. They have a tremendous perspective on your brand and processes, so look at their comments as a valuable source of information.
– Review your customer and dealer presentations. Do they include your recent investments and technology? Make sure your presentations reflect your commitment to your product and brand.
After years or decades of continually producing products, it is easy to no longer “see” the value or brilliance in what you’re doing. I’ve uncovered so many examples of companies doing amazing things to make their products superior, yet often they go unmentioned. It is immensely inspiring. However, what is more important is that our clients’ manufacturing and engineering leaders are inspired as well. It’s critical to review and appreciate what they’re creating and how.
So, I encourage you to take the time to immerse yourself in your product. Really examine how you design, engineer and manufacture it. It’s where your brand lives and is a story worth sharing with your employees, customers and, yes, the world.
Please Answer One Short Question
Do you take the time to immerse yourself in your products or services to truly identify their uniqueness?
Barry LaBov is founder and CEO of LABOV Marketing Communications and Training. He is a two-time Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year recipient and author of numerous business books, including the upcoming Power of Differentiation. Since 1981, LABOV has differentiated and launched products and brands around the world.