Three Strategic Marketing Principles


The first specialization. You must decide in exactly which area of your product or service market you will specialize in. You cannot be all things to all customers. Too many businesses make the mistake of offering too many products or services to too many different types of customers at too many prices in too many ways. This is not the way to business success. You can specialize in three fundamental areas of the product or service, the customer, a market, or geographical location.
For example, you can specialize in a product or service area. This is what you do when you decide upon a single or a limited number of particular products or services that you will provide to your market. You can specialize in hardware. Hot dogs are hard to find books. Both you and your customer must be clear about your area of product service specialization.

The second specialization. You can specialize in a specific customer or market. All state legal supply of New Jersey specializes in law firms. It provides law firms with every product that they need to operate efficiently. Wal-Mart specializes in serving customers who live from paycheck to paycheck. McDonald\’s specializes in providing fast food for people who want to eat quickly and conveniently. What customers do you specialize in serving?
The third area of specialization is a particular geographical area. This can be your neighborhood, city, state, country, or the entire world. When you choose to specialize in a particular area, you choose not to offer your products or services outside of that area. This is often the case for franchise operations or for companies offering exclusive products and services in a particular market.
In business, deciding what to do is equally as important as deciding what not to do. When you\’re absolutely clear about your area of specialization, it’s much easier for you to make decisions about the right and wrong products and services do offer to your customers.


The second strategic marketing principle is differentiation. This is perhaps the most important strategic marketing principle of all. All business success requires differentiation of some kind and often several kinds. All business success requires that you be both different from and better than your competitors in some clear, distinct way that is of value to the customer. As we have said before, your area of differentiation is called your Competitive Advantage. Your competitive advantage makes your product or service or company superior and makes what you offer better than any other product or service offered by one of your competitors more attractive. Sometimes this is called your area of excellence. You develop a competitive advantage by becoming absolutely excellent in some area that is so important to your potential customer that he or she will buy from you rather than from someone else.
Perhaps the most important part of competitive advantage is what I refer to earlier as your Unique Selling Proposition. This is the one benefit you offer for dealing with you that no competitor can offer. It is unique. No one else has it in any way. It represents a value that customers are willing to pay for in comparison with the offerings of your competitors for a convenience store. The unique selling proposition of the USP could be nothing more than that. The location is closer to the customer than another store selling similar products. For many companies, it is the warm, friendly people who sell the product or service and interact with the customers. For McDonald\’s or Starbucks, the unique selling proposition is the convenience of their locations, making it easy to get in and get out. If you don\’t have a competitive advantage, you must develop one of some kind. In addition, you must look into the future and determine what competitive advantage you will need in the months and years ahead to be seen as one of the best companies in your market. Your goal is to offer products and services in such a way that you are seen to be in the top 10 percent of suppliers in your market. Your goal is to be the best. The process of achieving competitive advantage requires a commitment to continuous and never-ending improvement.


The third marketing principle is segmentation. This requires that you segment your market. You divide up your prospective customers into separate groups based on the product or service area in which you specialize and the areas of superiority that you offer to prospective customers. In market segmentation, you clearly identify those customers who are ideal for what you sell and who most appreciate and are willing to pay for those aspects of your product or service that make your offerings superior to those of your competitors.

Number One Description of Customer. In market segmentation, you begin with a description of your ideal or perfect customer. If you can wave a magic wand and attract perfect customers, what would they look like?

  • How would you describe them?
  • Who is your ideal customer?
  • What is his or her age, income, education, position, or occupation?
  • What is his or her industry, geographical location, or size of family?
  • What kind of interests or desires or ambitions or problems? Because your ideal customer has once you\’ve identified your ideal customer. This becomes your target market.
  • You then ask questions such as Where is my perfect customer?
  • When is he or she buy?
  • How does he or she buy?
  • What value is he or she seek in buying from me or buying my product or service?

Number Two Benefit of Products and Services. I have all the benefits my product or service offers.

  • What is the one benefit that is most important to my ideal customer?
  • Who is your competition?
  • Why doesn\’t your ideal customer buy from you?
  • Why does your ideal customer buy from your competitor?
  • What value does your ideal customer see in buying from your competitor that he or she does not see in buying from you?
  • And what could you do to offset this perception?

The business of creating and keeping customers is difficult, complex, frustrating, and time-consuming. Customers are demanding, fickle, disloyal, and unpredictable. They always want the very most for the very least, and they want it immediately. They will abandon a supplier after buying from that person for 20 years if they perceive something better or cheaper across the street. The only hope you have in acquiring customers is to focus most of your time and attention on determining exactly who they are, where they are, and what you have to do to get them to buy from you rather than from someone else.

Number Three Who Are Your Customers. If you offer more than one product or service, you\’ll have to divide your potential customers into separate market segments. You will then have to identify the characteristics and qualities of prospective customers in each of these segments in order to advertise and sell to them effectively. Keep asking, Who are my customers?

  • Where are my customers?
  • Why do they buy?
  • When do they buy?
  • How do they buy?
  • How can I get them to buy from me rather than from someone else?
  • What value do they have to perceive that they will get from me, that they will not get from anyone else?

Your failure to ask and answer these questions accurately can damage or even destroy your business. Once you\’ve applied the principles of specialization, differentiation, and segmentation to your products and services and to your customers and markets, you now have to focus on number four which is concentration.

Number Four Concentration. You have to concentrate on your limited resources. You have to focus your time, energy, and money on those prospective customers that you have identified who are the most likely to buy from you the soonest. In concentrating your resources, you identify the advertising media that are most likely to reach the people who are most likely to buy from you immediately.
As Stuart Henderson Brett said half a century ago, doing business without advertising is like winking at a girl in the dark. Only you know what you\’re doing.”