Businesses strive to create better marketing so they increase eyeballs, attention, and sales. When you expand the range of things you research and find inspiration from, you can discover better marketing. But every fish you catch in this net isn't very good. This article will help you find and study the right kinds of products, services, and companies to look for great marketing angles.
Traditionally, business books use the words goods, products, and/or services to point to the general categories of things that businesses sell. A good or a product is a physical object that the business sells. A service is a series of activities or the use of some tool that a business sells or rents. This can mean buying a refrigerator (product) or letting you rent a car for a day (service).
Classifying something as either a good or a service is great, but it doesn't help you market what you offer better. There are thousands of services, and millions of products. But, when you look at each category harder, you'll find some distinctions that may help you explain what you do. And it will help you find other examples of great marketing to borrow, copy, and improve.
Let’s break them apart:
- Product - sprocket, tool, container
- Service - assist, work, use
By a sprocket, I mean a physical thing that you have or use like a fridge, shoes, or a book. By tool I mean something that you use to do something else, like using a hammer to hammer a nail, using a tv to watch a show, or a key to open a door. The line between sprockets and tools may be thin, and some things can be both. Containers can range from as big as mixed-use skyscrapers that contain housing, shopping and offices, to buckets that hold water or even dress pockets.
Services, in contrast to physical products, are things that people do over time. You may call tech support or watch a youtube video to assist you when your website goes down, they’ll help you do the work. If you call a plumber, they do the work of fixing a leak or installing a toilet (too bad they don’t patch the holes they make). And use can refer to renting a building, getting access to a website to use software or access to credit to use someone else’s money for a while.
Using the words sprocket, tool, container, service, assistance, work, and use will make you think with more precision about what businesses offer than “product” or “service”. It’s a great mental exercise for you to figure out which of these words is the most or least relevant when I use it. So, thinking to yourself “which fits this situation best” and “which fits this situation least” will sharpen your business acumen.
These distinctions can also help you pick and analyze other businesses to learn from them. An assistance businesses like tutors and physical trainers can learn more from one another than plumbers (work) and property managers (use). Tool businesses such as tennis racquet makers and printer manufacturers have more in common than construction companies and t-shirt makers. You can use this distinction to find relevant inspiration to use in your marketing, operations, and finance.
So which one of these six options are you selling? What are other examples of that type of thing? Think about in the business market and the consumer market. Do any of those things have great marketing? Do any of the companies that sell your type of thing have great marketing?
See, when you do competitive research, you don't have to only look at your direct competitors. Looking at the marketing of companies that provide similar types of products or service, even when they're not in your industry, will give you a better filter for inspiration and genius.