Sunday 16 June 2019

Firms must stand out to succeed in US

Despite having been slammed by several prominent economists, policymakers and top Wall Street corporate leaders, modern monetary theory (MMT) is not going away anytime soon (stock picture)
Despite having been slammed by several prominent economists, policymakers and top Wall Street corporate leaders, modern monetary theory (MMT) is not going away anytime soon (stock picture)

Sara Hill

What defines companies that thrive when expanding to new markets? The key lies in communicating a product's differentiation and its unique value proposition, something Irish companies are increasingly good at.

A central focus of my work with Irish tech companies that are entering and expanding across the US West Coast is to help them to develop market presence, build key relationships and establish partnerships.

Markets like the US are becoming more and more crowded, making it harder for companies to produce a truly unique offering. But not having a strong differentiator or features that are clearly unique from competitors is simply not an option.

A major target for companies I work with is Silicon Valley, an epicentre of technological innovation but an extremely crowded market. Strong competition makes it essential that companies entering and expanding here manage product differentiation to appeal to and serve ideal customers, innovate without creating feature fatigue, and always deliver on their core offerings.

Many companies I've worked with closely have found success by sticking to these principles, and a large part of my role is to recognise their differentiators and communicate them to potential partners and customers.

One exemplary company that has managed product differentiation by continuously innovating yet still delivering on core elements, allowing them to win and keep customers, is Taoglas.

Headquartered in Wexford, Taoglas offers advanced antenna products and services to many of the world's leading wireless and Internet of Things (IoT) companies. It has an extensive menu of offerings and is consistently working to develop new innovations to stay competitive in fast-paced markets. Producing quality products and focusing on providing great, personalised service have become its key differentiators.

Taoglas invests a lot of energy in developing good relationships with customers and making sure it delivers on promises, remaining open and collaborative, and providing hands-on service. The company manages its product differentiation by choosing the right features and focusing on fulfilling the basic benefits customers value most.

"We don't just provide our customers with an antenna, we work to fully understand their unique challenges and applications, and the total value of their product and service," says joint founder and CEO Dermot O'Shea. This becomes a powerful way in which they differentiate - by seamlessly extending exceptional service through to their products and services.

In a competitive market, service can be a crucial element of success, a way of cutting through the noise and a way for companies to differentiate without overcomplicating or adding too many unnecessary features to products.

ProVision, a second company I work with, has a software product called CameraMatics which enables commercial fleet operators to digitally manage driver safety and risk data across fleets in real time.

As ProVision prepares to enter the US market, managing product-differentiation will play a large role in determining customer adoption, satisfaction and loyalty. Its new product has added features to differentiate against competitors. These features were added to make the product more relevant and appealing and specifically to gain new customers in a new market.

ProVision has also chosen to focus its product around a clear message, 'Transforming Fleet Risk Management' - its product promise and key differentiator.

By managing its product differentiation and prioritising the balance between staying innovative, adding new and unique features, and complexity, ProVision is well positioned for a successful market entry.

It's important to always remember who you're creating a product for, and that the true promise of the product is delivered. By delivering on the basics, Irish companies can better insure repeat business and guard against losing their market share. Developing a strong product differentiation strategy produces the best results and the highest chance of market entry success.

  • Sara Hill is senior vice president for Advanced Technologies in Enterprise Ireland's Silicon Valley office

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