How To Set Your Business Apart From The Competition

In one of my recent speaking engagements, I challenged participants in the audience to think about the real value that their firms provide to the marketplace. Afterwards I received quite a few Emails from folks asking how to create a compelling value proposition that would accentuate a growers’ competitive strategy in the face of this less-than-stellar economic recovery. To answer that, let me preface my remarks with an observation: Too many companies enter the marketplace today without having fully defined their customer value proposition. Instead, growers tend to market a nice list of “powerful” benefits (which, ironically, their competitors most likely state they have, too).

Value Proposition Is More Than A Buy-Line
Let me start by saying that the underlying purpose of a value proposition is to identify and satisfy an unmet need that your target market possesses. An effective value proposition describes what you do in terms of tangible business results for the customer. However, it’s more than a statement of offer or a buy-line. It’s a commitment to deliver a specific combination of resulting experiences, at a particular price, to a group of specifically targeted customers, more profitably and better than the competition. In short, it’s about being different, but in a good way.

In marketing lingo, differentiation exists when customers (under conditions of competitive supply and faced with a range of choices): (a) perceive that product offerings do not have the same value and (b) are prepared to dispose of unequal levels of resource (usually money) in acquiring as many of the available offerings as they wish.

In layman’s terms, customers (both end consumers and business-to-business) generally use five major attributes in making a decision about what products/services to buy and from whom to buy them: quality, price, service, convenience and selection. Value represents the trade-off between the benefits derived from this varying mix of attributes relative to the sacrifices (dollars) made in getting them.

So the key for firms in the floriculture industry is to provide greater value to customers. The interesting thing is that the difference in value that customers perceive (when comparing your firm to competitors) can either be real or perceived through various signals you relay through your marketing efforts.

Differentiation Is Crucial

For a customer value proposition to be uniquely persuasive, it must be distinctive, measurable, defendable and sustainable. It is critical to define and support the value proposition in such a way that your customers will either pay more for your product/service offerings than the competition’s services, or substantially more customers will desire your products/services over those of your competitors. Developing a value proposition is the most difficult and time-consuming of all marketing activities. That’s probably why so many companies go to market without one clearly articulated.

Essentially, your job in defining your value proposition is to uncover the value that your company offers (and which your customers and prospects will want to buy); your job is not to develop a long list of benefits. Why not? Because, again, your competitors will more than likely have the same list.

So the question becomes very clear. How do you differentiate in a way that encourages more customers to buy from you or are willing to pay more based on your value proposition? Answer this and I assure you that your firm will be one that will not only survive future economic downturns, but will remain profitable while doing so.

Housing Remains Bright Spot Despite Drag From The Sequester

Speaking of the economy, real GDP is forecast to slow from the 2.5 percent pace we experienced in the first quarter to about a 1.5 percent pace in the second quarter. Not surprisingly, the implementation of federal government sequestration measures (mandated spending cuts) is currently the primary drag on the economy. The main bright spot is the housing market, which is expected to continue to post strong gains, as we are now facing housing shortages in many markets.

Prospects for the third quarter are a little better, as investment is expected to pick up slightly. Most companies seem to be throwing in the towel and giving investors back their excess cash as dividends instead of investing them in infrastructure projects. The consumer should do better in the wake of the recent run-up in both equity markets and home prices. We have actually begun to see consumers extract equity from their homes again to support spending. Real GDP is expected to rise at a 2.3 percent pace in the third quarter.

The economy is projected to end the year on a high note. Real GDP is forecast to hit 3.6 percent in the fourth quarter. The deficit has actually narrowed much more quickly than anyone expected, which means it should be easier to get a budget deal done, once the two sides are forced to do so. The debt ceiling is now expected to be crossed sometime late in the year. Of course, if the sequester persists, growth will accelerate much less than is forecast.

In summary, there is an old adage that says: “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten.” This latest economic downturn has certainly caused us all to do some things differently than we had been doing them previously. We’re doing more with fewer people and in some cases, fewer resources.

But as we move into the future with brighter economic prospects, even more aggressive marketing will be needed to ensure that we are considered as necessities in our consumers’ lives and not mere luxuries. Now is exactly the time to make those strategic marketing investments to articulate our value propositions, both as individual firms and through industry-wide efforts (e.g. America in Bloom).

Leave a Reply

More From Business Management...
Robert Conrad, Ball Seed Technology Research Manager

June 27, 2016

Ball Premier Lab Wins Medal Of Excellence Award For Its Advancements In Seed

Over the past 30 years, the Ball Premier Lab has set the standard for high-quality seed in the industry, earning it Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 Medal Of Excellence for Industry Achievement, for its dedication to advancing seed and helping growers improve their margins.

Read More
North Creek Nurseries lower trials

June 24, 2016

North Creek Nurseries Is A Finalist For 2016 Operation Of The Year

North Creek Nurseries in Landenberg, PA, is one of three finalists for Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 Operation Of The Year award and winner of the Excellence In Sustainable Production award for 2016.

Read More
Vic Frey, Kurt Weiss Greenhouses Feature

June 23, 2016

Vic Frey Named A Finalist For 2016 Head Grower Of The Year

Vic Frey, a finalist for the 2016 Head Grower of the Year and recipient of the 2016 Excellence In Production award, was always willing to trial and experiment with the latest technology. He loved the constant change in this industry, and turned every opportunity into a teaching moment.

Read More
Latest Stories
Robert Conrad, Ball Seed Technology Research Manager

June 27, 2016

Ball Premier Lab Wins Medal Of Excellence Award For Its…

Over the past 30 years, the Ball Premier Lab has set the standard for high-quality seed in the industry, earning it Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 Medal Of Excellence for Industry Achievement, for its dedication to advancing seed and helping growers improve their margins.

Read More
North Creek Nurseries lower trials

June 24, 2016

North Creek Nurseries Is A Finalist For 2016 Operation …

North Creek Nurseries in Landenberg, PA, is one of three finalists for Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 Operation Of The Year award and winner of the Excellence In Sustainable Production award for 2016.

Read More
Vic Frey, Kurt Weiss Greenhouses Feature

June 23, 2016

Vic Frey Named A Finalist For 2016 Head Grower Of The Y…

Vic Frey, a finalist for the 2016 Head Grower of the Year and recipient of the 2016 Excellence In Production award, was always willing to trial and experiment with the latest technology. He loved the constant change in this industry, and turned every opportunity into a teaching moment.

Read More
Albert Grimm, Jefferys Greenhouses

June 19, 2016

Albert Grimm Named A Finalist For 2016 Head Grower Of T…

Grimm, winner of Greenhouse Grower's Excellence in Outreach and Leadership award, is always willing to listen, continuously learn, and improve. He is a role model and empowers his employees to strive for excellence.

Read More
Practical Software Grower Vertical

June 18, 2016

Practical Software Solutions Increases Accessibility, E…

Practical Software will demonstrate Grower Vertical, its customizable and scalable enterprise management system for the horticulture industry, at Cultivate’16 in July.

Read More
Ornamental kale field at Sunlet Nursery

June 17, 2016

Sunlet Nursery Named As Finalist For 2016 Operation Of …

Sunlet Nursery in Fallbrook, CA, is one of three finalists for Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 Operation Of The Year award and winner of the Excellence In Community Leadership award for 2016.

Read More
The-Capitol

June 14, 2016

Fate Of H-2B Program A Hot Topic On Capitol Hill This W…

Following a Senate hearing on the economic impact of the H-2B Program, the House Appropriations Committee was scheduled to take up its own version of a funding bill this week.

Read More
Battlefield Farms Company shot

June 14, 2016

Battlefield Farms Is A Finalist For 2016 Operation Of T…

Battlefield Farms in Rapidan, VA, is one of three finalists for Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 Operation Of The Year award and winner of the Excellence In Innovation award for 2016.

Read More
Mike Goyette, Pleasant View Gardens

June 14, 2016

Mike Goyette Named A Finalist For 2016 Head Grower Of T…

Goyette, winner of Greenhouse Grower's Excellence In Quality Award, is never satisfied with the status quo and is constantly looking for improvements in procedures, plant quality, employee organization, and the bottom line.

Read More
North American greenhouse 1

June 8, 2016

University Of Arkansas Offering Online Greenhouse Manag…

The course, which can be taken 24 hours a day, will cover basic greenhouse designs and construction materials, benching systems, glazing materials, lighting, heating systems, and much more.

Read More

June 7, 2016

Ball Seed Offers Full Mobile Ordering Capabilities With…

The latest update for Ball Seed’s WebTrack To Go mobile app now includes full ordering capabilities for the industry’s largest assortment of seeds and plants. App users can also complete order fulfillment via seed count or package size, find product substitutions, get personalized “contact us” information, request plant tags, and more. “Upgrading WebTrack To Go to the full suite of ordering and management tools is where we’ve always wanted to be,” says Mark Morris, Director of IT for Ball Seed. “With this new roll-out, we’re keeping up with our customers on-the-go and providing them the information and access they need –- even while away from their desks.” The Ball Seed WebTrack To Go app lets customers: Check order status and shipment tracking 24-7 Access up-to-the-minute product inventory from hundreds of suppliers Place orders by seed count, packet size, and more Find product info, culture and photos when and where they […]

Read More

June 7, 2016

Meet Ken Fisher, AmericanHort’s New President And…

The AmericanHort Board of Directors has named Ken Fisher as the organization’s next President and Chief Executive Officer, effective immediately. Fisher has 20 years of experience leading public and privately-held companies, including iconic consumer brands with The Coleman Company and Elmer’s Products Inc. Fisher’s diverse business experience will further the vision and strategy of AmericanHort, while bringing proven organizational management to achieve the desired results, the AmericanHort Board says. “We know the industry values our advocacy work and educational programs, especially Cultivate. Ken’s expertise will assist us in enhancing existing offerings, while adding new value that will broaden our membership,” says Dale Deppe, AmericanHort Board Chairman. “The pace of change in our industry is rapid, and he has experience successfully leading organizations through both business and regulatory cycles. Ken’s business growth track record is exactly what AmericanHort needs as we enter our next chapter, which I am confident will be […]

Read More
Sakata Birthday Cake Feature

May 28, 2016

10 Creative Marketing Ideas From 2016 California Spring…

Grower-retailers often look to breeders for ideas on how to increase plant sales with smart marketing plans. The California Spring Trials were filled with great concepts to reach customers.

Read More
Costa Farms won International Grower of the Year. Representing the operation, (left to right) were Chuck Zala, Michael Vera, Menachem Ganon, Jose Costa, and Mike Rimland

May 24, 2016

AIPH Seeking Entries For Its International Grower of th…

The International Association of Horticultural Producers (AIPH) is inviting ornamental growers from all around the world to enter the AIPH International Grower of the Year Awards (IGOTY) for 2017. Last year’s big winner was Florida-based Costa Farms.

Read More
Gotham Greens Atrium Style Greenhouse Chicago

May 23, 2016

What’s Good For The Environment Is Good For Business [O…

Investing in technology to become more sustainable “always goes hand in hand,” says Abe VanWingerden, co-CEO of Metrolina Greenhouses. “If it is good for the environment, it normally is good for business over the long term.” That connection was abundantly clear in the responses we received to this year’s Top 100 Growers Survey. VanWingerden points to three investments Metrolina has made as good examples of how technology can reduce an operation’s carbon footprint and pay dividends financially. Its biomass system burns locally sourced waste wood — a renewable resource; its ozone water treatment system cleans irrigation water, reducing the need for fertilizers and pesticides, and improving plant quality and precision growing; and electrostatic sprayers reduce water and chemical use, and provide more targeted chemical applications. Other Top 100 Growers have found VanWingerden’s theory to be true, as well. Costa Farms’ investment in solar energy panels on three buildings at its […]

Read More
Top 100 Drone Image Feature

May 16, 2016

Greenhouse Grower’s Top 100 Growers Talk Technolo…

The Top 100 Growers are already by nature some of the most technologically advanced greenhouse operations, due to their sheer size and need for efficiency. Many of the largest growers also serve big box merchandisers and home improvement chains, where prices are dictated, so producing plants at the lowest possible cost is essential to growers not only staying in business, but also profiting and expanding their operations. This year’s survey focused on the automation and technology the Top 100 Growers are investing in, and how these advancements have improved their operations, as well as how they have affected growers’ labor issues. We also asked growers about how they’re solving labor issues, where they’re recruiting new hires, and how they’re keeping their people committed. Lean management programs and sustainability certifications have become higher priorities in the past several years, due to growers’ needs to run efficiently and focus attention on sustainable […]

Read More
PrairieSplendor_CompactRose Syngenta Flowers March 2016

May 16, 2016

New “Generations Of Flowers” Study Tracks How And Why C…

The Society of American Florists and the American Floral Endowment have released an update and analysis of this study, which first began in 2009.

Read More

May 12, 2016

AmericanHort Is Hosting A Greenhouse Tour In New Jersey…

The Field and Covered Production Tour takes place Sept. 14-15, and features stops at Overdevest Nurseries, Centerton Nursery, and Lucas Greenhouses.

Read More
[gravityform id="35" title="false" description="false"]