In my discussions with innovation experts and technology vendors, I get to hear about some fascinating, creative business strategies. I know of one small firm whose Web site contains an excellent collection of white papers and other research about its area of expertise. When I told the firm’s co-founders that I admired this area of their Web site, they shared with me this nugget of their underlying business philosophy:
Share everything you know with your customers. They will always assume you know more.
I think this is a very powerful strategic concept. Here’s why: First of all, it speaks to the idea that your customers and prospects aren’t just buying a widget from your organization — they’re also buying what marketing experts call an “augmented product,” which consists of all of the services and resources that you offer to support its ongoing usage and operation. It also includes the expertise, research and knowledge that they use to continually improve the product itself and its support services.
Secondly, it gives customers the unmistakable impression that the firm’s superior expertise (at least as it’s demonstrated on its Web site) is “embedded” into its products and services. Because the firm clearly knows a lot about its customers’ needs, it’s likely to have superior products that incorporate what they have learned. By demonstrating that ongoing customer research is a core part of its business philosophy, this savvy firm also implies that its customers will enjoy the fruits of this research in future products as well.
Finally, by creating a collection of research and ancillary resources on its Web site, this firm clearly differentiates itself from its competitors. In contrast, the Web sites of competing products only give visitors a bit of marketing copy about their products, and then instruct you to contact the company for more information. Little or no domain expertise is reflected in these nicely designed but otherwise sterile Web sites. Even if the competitors’ products are at parity in terms of features and benefits, the first one’s commitment to research, and the extensive resources it provides on its Web site, must be viewed by many prospective customers as a key differentiating factor.
The lesson? As your company refines its online marketing strategy, keep in mind that Web content, if approached in a creative way, can be powerful competitive tool!