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The Stop Start More Less Process For Differentiation Of Products And Services

The Stop Start More Less Process is a way to look at what you’re doing and to manage within a constraint.

In this article we will look at how it can help you to differentiate your products and services by emphasising particular elements in your customer value proposition while de-emphasising other areas.

I’ve already looked at:

Managing your time within the time constraints imposed by having a good work / life balance.

>>> The Stop Start More Less Matrix For Time Management

and managing your lead generation marketing methods within a budget:

>>> The Stop Start More Less Process For Improving Marketing Results

The Customer Value For Money Map

Nearly all markets that aren’t totally commoditised, have an economy, middle market and premium brands.

The basic rules is…

The more you pay, the better, the more desirable product you can buy.

As price increases, customer value increases. And normally, the higher the customer value, the higher the cost to the producer.

The graph below shows the car market:

Customer value for money chart

Towards the bottom, with low prices but low value lies cars like the Hyundai range.

Above them, more expensive but generally considered better cars are middle market manufacturers like Ford, General Motors, Toyota, Volkswagen.

For more money, you can get a BMW, an Audi, a Lexus or Mercedes. These have more prestige, more luxury and more clever features.

At the top are saloons by Rolls Royce and Bentley that represent the ultimate in luxurious personal travel.

Differentiating Using The Value For Money Map

Sometimes your way to find a differentiated position in your market is simple.

There is a gap on the value for money graph.

I’m not up-t0-date with car prices but for the sake of illustration lets say that:

Hyundai range from £8,000 to £12,000

Ford range from £10,000 to £30,000

BMW range from £20,000 to £100,000

Rolls Royce range from £150,000 to £300,000.

And no other car manufacturers exist to fill in the gaps.

This shows three potential for a new business to position itself and to stake out a differentiated position.

  1. Below £8,000 – can you price below the discounter?
  2. Above £300,000 – can you price above the premium product? Before you sneer at the idea, when I was a young boy and crazy about cars the top sports cars were Ferrari, Lamborghini and Aston Martin. Now there is a choice of hypercars above this level with Bugattit, Pagani and Koenigsegg.
  3. The way I’ve scheduled the prices means that there is also a gap between £100,000 and £150,000.

This is where the Stop, Start, More, Less process can be applied to differentiating products and services.

Can you meet the needs of the discount car owner with less?

Can you meet the desires of the exclusive premium car owner with more?

To get the to the third category, between BMW and Rolls Royce, can you match the best BMWs and then add something to create extra value (like exclusivity). I always had a soft spot for Bristol cars with their unique British flavour.

The Stop Start More Less Process For Differentiation

It’s easy to differentiate along the value for money curve if you can see a gap.

The products either side give you a base to compare and contrast to identify features and benefits that can be added (to increase value) or subtracted (to reduce cost).

It’s more difficult to imaginatively differentiate your product at an existing price point.

This is where the stop, start, more, less process comes into its own.

It can be used in two ways:

  1. To focus within a market to create a deeper niche with products and services designed for specific needs.
  2. To focus across markets to create a unique solution that may attract customers from both markets and also people who haven’t bought before. Smartphones and tablets are a convergence between mobile telephones and laptops. I was slow to buy because of the problem of too small and too big but I’m delighted with my Samsung Galaxy Note 2. It’s big enough to work on effectively, small enough to carry around everywhere.

If you’re working to an existing price point and you want to add more – more benefits, more features or something new – it’s going to cost you more and that means that you’re going to sacrifice your margin and the contribution you make on each sale. That’s bad news for your break even point.

You do it by asking yourself what are you prepared to sacrifice?

  • What features and benefits are not appreciated by the target market?
  • What can you reduce to a minimum standard?
  • What can you take away altogether?

If customers genuinely don’t care about what you’re taking away, then their inclusion added cost to you but no value to them. They bought in spite of their presence and not because of it.

If that sounds unlikely, you might want to think about electronic products you own and the many features you never use. They complicate when you want something simple. Sometimes their presence can even put you off.

This process of looking at what can be changed, can create new categories of products e.g. Ferraris and Lamborghinis sell at a similar price to Rolls Royce but have a very different target buyer.

Or can create differentiation within a product category.

The customer value attribute map is a comparison in the luxury car sector between Rolls Royce and a top of the line, large, Mercedes saloon.

Customer value attribute map

The process will involve deliberating cutting back on some desired attributes to invest more heavily in others.

It’s Not Just Cars

Anywhere there is effective differentiation, the customer value attribute map will be different. If two products sell at similar products, then if one beats the other in all the key attributes that customers look for, it will be the obvious choice. However if one product is strong in two or three and the other beats it in two or three, then the customers with different want and need preference profiles will prefer one or the other.

It’s well worth looking at some of your purchase decisions and analysing why you bought what you did. Try to be honest and admit some personal failings. Perhaps pride pushed you to prefer something more expensive with more exclusivity. Perhaps greed tempted you to buy a product with lots of bonuses. Or fear of loss forced you to make a decision because limited quantities were available and you didn’t want to wait.

If you start seeing how you make your own buying decisions, you can start to see how you can help your customers to buy.

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