Are You Meaningfully Different?
While many of you may be scratching your heads trying to think up the next big thing for your product line, there is a differentiator you may not have considered. A growing number of companies do have something unique to offer to their customers: An industry-leading, comprehensive compliance program.
Compliance as a competitive differentiator? You bet. In fact, some industry companies have begun to see the opportunity that is wrapped up in the challenge of compliance. Check out my previous post, "Surf's Up: Our Industry Is At A Tipping Point," to see what I mean.
Having a comprehensive compliance program sets you apart from the industry herd. How? Done right, a compliance program requires you to have full transparency and control of your supply chain so you know exactly where your products are sourced and what materials are used to create them. This tells your customers that you understand the value in their brand and know how to protect it—by providing an advertising medium that complements their brand equity, not one that harms it. Being compliant and offering safe merchandise positions you as a trusted partner rather than just another promotional products supplier. It gives you something to talk about other than price. Overall, it makes you a better company—a company that is meaningfully different from all the others.
The bottom line is this: In order for our industry to survive the continual cutbacks in advertising and marketing budgets, we must be different in a way that actually makes a difference. "Difference is a commitment to the unprecedented," Moon says. "And the businesses that stand out are the ones that understand this, even as they take that sharp left turn down that unpaved road." I couldn't agree more.
Brent Stone is executive director - operations for Quality Certification Alliance (QCA), the promotional products industry's only independent, not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping companies provide safe products. A Six Sigma Black Belt, Stone has more than 25 years of in-depth supply chain management experience with extensive expertise in process design, development, improvement and management. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.qcalliance.org for more information.