The simplest way to avoid becoming a commodity — subjecting your offer to price comparisons and low, to non-existent, customer loyalty — is not to allow yourself to be common.

The secret is obvious: make yourself an orange to compare to the apples in your market. But it’s not always simple, easy, or as obvious as it should be.

Or is it?

You can’t be in much more a commodity business than whiteboards. I’m talking about the boards littering the walls of offices around the world — capturing dry erased plans, projects, priorities, and wild ideas of employees and business leaders alike. There aren’t a lot of options with whiteboards, size is the primary consideration when purchasing. A tray to hold markers is about the only variable. Accessories are pretty much limited to markers and erasers. Magnet boards offer a choice of sorts for magnets. But for the most part, we buy whiteboards based on price per size. They’re a commodity.

Or are they?

A StartupJournal article (no longer available) showcased a company named Magnatag Visible Systems. Magnatag is an orange in the world of apple-filled whiteboards. They’ve separated themselves from the commodity market they exist in. What they do is simple, easy, and obvious — using magnets and grids, they make whiteboards for specific purposes and uses.

[quote]The doctors on NBC’s “ER” series used a Magnatag on set to keep track of patients. This year, the New Orleans Saints mapped NFL draft picks on a Magnatag. A Colorado sheriff’s posse swears by their Magnatag for plotting search-and-rescue mountain missions.[/quote]

If you want to know what an orange looks like, here’ a great example

The founder of Magnatag describes his business like this: Our boards are problem-solving devices — they are aspirins for people’s headaches.

That’s an orange.

And the result is Magnatag commands up to $1500 per board, with systems offered up to $10K+!

Systems of whiteboards???? You can’t get much more an orange than this!

Unless you like competing on price and low margins, the benefits of not being a commodity are great. And it can be simple, easy, and obvious. The trick is to focus on your customer, think as they do, and solve the problem or create the opportunity they’re working to achieve. Then have the courage to act, test, and adjust to feedback.

Is commoditization and its effects a concern in your business? Are you competing in a market driven by price, spec sheets, and everyone looks alike syndrome? Would you like to learn more about ways to avoid being a commodity, reducing price pressure, and maintaining — if not increasing — margins?

If so, contact me. Together, we may able to create your orange that leads to grater sales success.

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