DWM (Window and Door Manufacturer Magazine) recently published its “Annual Product Guide for 2012”. Look for Midwest Prefinishing on page 44 under the heading, “Paints and Finishes”. Product guides like these rarely create a specific category for prefinishing. So, when included, we’re typically wedged into an existing, but incompatible category; we’re the square peg in a field of round holes.
Where should we put you?
In DWM’s guide, we rub shoulders with coatings, window, component, door, screen, film covering, lamination, profile-wrap, and extrusion manufacturers. The only other prefinisher in the crowd specializes in finishing entry doors. The two of us ought to meet sometime to form our own mini-category. Power in numbers?
Likewise, millwork associations struggle with the square peg too. “So, you don’t manufacture anything? You add value to a manufactured product? I’ll talk to the membership board and get back to you.” Without fail, associations and periodicals demonstrate kindness and flexibility by granting us membership and inclusion. They’re dedicated to expanding the industry, not limiting it.
The advantage of being different
We’re not complaining. In fact, our square peg status signals an advantage. It magnifies the element of differentiation, of specializing in a market segment. Jack Trout emphasized this point in his book, Differentiate or Die (apparently, there’s no choice):
When you study the marketing wars, the well-differentiated specialist tends to be the winner. … [T]he specialist can focus on one product, one benefit, and one message. This focus enables the marketer to put a sharp point on the message that quickly drives it into the mind. … Another weapon of the specialist is the ability to be perceived as the expert or the best. If that’s all they do, they must do it very well.
In one sentence, can you explain how your company is differentiated?
Let’s apply Trout’s advice to Midwest Prefinishing, differentiated as a pure prefinisher, using high-production, state-of-the-art technology to prefinish mouldings, doors, and jambs. Midwest hopes to convert Trout’s theory into a reality: to be Simply the Best (our tagline). According to Trout, that’s not a brag, it’s an achievable goal and sound marketing besides. In this economy, no marketing theory brings unbroken success. But we’re confident in its truth and look forward to the future.
Do you fit into standard categories? How do you differentiate?