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Beyond Quality, Service and Price

PART 2: Value is created by uncovering niche markets, crafting compelling stories, and designing unforgettable experiences.




IN THE HYPER-COMPETITIVE MARKET, the common belief to standing out is about promoting superior quality, great service, and competitive pricing. Is this still a viable strategy today?

When every business is shouting the same thing, the message becomes lost in a sea of sameness. These claims become less of a differentiator and more of background noise.

Think about it. Quality, Service, and Price — these are foundational component every business tries to compete on. When everyone claims to be the best, the cheapest, the most customer-focused it becomes a stalemate. Every claim canceling out the next. This is the challenge businesses face in today’s digital marketplace.

The Dilemma of Quality

Once upon a time, quality was the battleground where businesses won or lost. It was a simpler time when quality could be defined and measured. It was a time of individual craftsmanship. It took years to become a Master Craftsman. Each producer had his own unique style and was known for it.

In our modern era, the concept of quality has become more elusive. Automated manufacturing standards and technologies have closed the gap between high-end and budget-friendly products.


The term Standardization says it all. Standardization equals interchangeability. When you operate in this way, you become interchangeable with any competitor that can meet the established Standards. In the beginning standards are a differentiator. As more companies prove use them over time, standards level the field and become a commodity tool.

Consider the automotive industry. Vehicles produced in different countries have similar features and capabilities, making the ‘superior quality’ claim less compelling. In the tech sector, smartphones from competing brands offer comparable functionalities, making it harder to distinguish based on quality alone.
In the age of online reviews and social media, the perception of quality is ever shifting. A single negative review can have a devasting impact, potentially undoing the hard-earned reputation of a brand.

The Service Challenge

Service has become a hazy term as well. Companies pledge exceptional service, but what does that mean? The hospitality and travel industries promise memorable experiences, but often fail to deliver a service any different from the rest.

True satisfaction is subjective and personal. What delights one customer may fail to meet the expectations of another. Capturing the essence of exceptional service is similar to chasing a mirage—it’s an ever-moving target that’s hard to pin down and even harder to deliver.

Service is based on delivery of client expectation as the starting point. Few companies take the time to explore and uncover the true expectations of the customer. The more experienced and familiar a prospect is with what you do, the higher the expectations will be.

This is especially important if you deal with schools and non-profits. Naïve, inexperienced volunteers often make the apparel purchase decisions. These volunteers need considerable educating on what makes an exceptional service experience.

Price War Ambush

Then, there’s the temptation of offering competitive pricing. It’s a dangerous game that entices businesses into a downward spiral, a race to the bottom where no one emerges victorious. Price slashing may garner immediate attention but erodes the perceived value of a product or service.

Customers are smarter than you think. They associate rock-bottom prices with compromised quality. This can be a difficult perception to reverse. As prices fall, margins shrink, leaving businesses with no room for innovation or growth.

The Internet has democratized the search for the lowest price. You have no way of knowing if the company offering the lowest price is domestic, located near-shore, or off-shore. And the Internet search is the starting point for buyer’s searching for a new seller. It helps him anchor the price floor so he can negotiate toward that price.

How do you stand out in such a landscape? The answer lies in innovation and authentic value creation. It’s about uncovering niche markets, crafting compelling stories, and designing unforgettable experiences. Value is created by offering something unique that cannot be easily replicated by your competitors.

The key to this is niche selection and domination. When you truly understand how niche markets work, it becomes much easier to stand out.

Businesses that thrive pivot away from the overused sales pitches and instead focus on delivering genuine value. This could start with a proprietary process, an innovative product feature, a unique customer loyalty program, or an exceptional guarantee that goes beyond the average.


A word of caution, those approaches are temporary at best. As soon as they are shown publicly, they begin to move from unique to commodity as competitors rip off and duplicate. This is normal and expected. To overcome this temporary weakness, consider the greater emotional aspects.

Authenticity; The New Currency

In a world of instantaneous attention, authenticity is the currency of choice. Customers seek brands they know, like, and trust. Delivering on their promises and aligning with their values are essential.

I call this: Mission, Vison, and Core Value Alignment. This means being transparent, reliable, and consistent in every interaction. It requires exploring the values of your potential customer. Gone are the days where the sales rep makes any promise to win the sale. It works once, but the consequences are disastrous.

It’s not enough to sell a product or service; businesses must sell a belief, a vision, an experience, and a result. This is what creates a lasting bond with customers. Turning them into loyal advocates for your brand. Remember, customers make their purchase decision based on emotion, and justify with logic. Be ready to deliver on both fronts.

Next Steps – Part 3

The future of differentiation is not rooted in the traditional claims of quality, service, and price. It’s about carving out a distinctive market position by being irreplaceable in the eyes of your customers.
Businesses need to look forward, forging new paths that reflect their true identity. This is how you build a legacy in the marketplace. By offering something that’s not just a commodity but a piece of your unique story, you create a value proposition that’s as resilient as it is compelling.

Remember, in the relentless bazaar of commerce, the victors are those who dare to be different, who dare to innovate, and who dare to offer a piece of themselves to the world. This is the new blueprint for enduring success.

The journey continues in the next installment of this series. You’ll learn four additional pricing models based on increasing value. The progress moves from a negotiation based on commodity competition to the highest model where clients ask you, “What is the most expensive thing I can buy from you?”



Let’s Talk About It

Creating a More Diverse and Inclusive Screen Printing Industry

LET’S TALK About It: Part 3 discusses how four screen printers have employed people with disabilities, why you should consider doing the same, the resources that are available, and more. Watch the live webinar, held August 16, moderated by Adrienne Palmer, editor-in-chief, Screen Printing magazine, with panelists Ali Banholzer, Amber Massey, Ryan Moor, and Jed Seifert. The multi-part series is hosted exclusively by ROQ.US and U.N.I.T.E Together. Let’s Talk About It: Part 1 focused on Black, female screen printers and can be watched here; Part 2 focused on the LGBTQ+ community and can be watched here.

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