How To Sell Parity Products Or Services


Your success in business is directly related to standing out, not fitting in. So, you hunker down to determine how you’re gonna differentiate your brand and position your company for maximum impact … aaaand you’ve got nothin’. You’re drawing a blank.

Tom Wanek, here, and you’re watching Wizard Marketing TV, where business owners learn persuasive tools and techniques to spark miraculous growth.

Make this one simple change about how you think about your company and you’ll out-strategize your competition every time. I’ll see YOU on the inside, my friend.

If you’ve been watching WizardMarketingTV for any length of time, then you’ve heard me say that strategy comes before copywriting and advertising. See, strategy forms the foundation upon which every other marketing activity is built upon. Yes, strategy is that damn important.

Now, that’s all fine and dandy. But what’s your strategy going to be when you operate a commodity-based business … when you sell a parity product?

What’s your marketing strategy if you’re a retailer stocking the same brands as your competitors? Or a roofer installing the same shingles as your competitors … or a heating and cooling company installing the same furnace systems by technicians who are all trained at the same trade-school and who all carry the exact same certification as everybody else?

Ditto for any jeweler, hearing aid center or electrician.

The answer is pure and simple: Be more like-able than your competitors. In other words, be positively good.

The “Godfather” of modern advertising, David Ogilvy said, “When faced with selling ‘parity’ products, all you can hope to do is explain their virtues more persuasively than your competitors, and to differentiate them by the style of your advertising.

My partner Joel Ralphaelson has articulated a feeling which has been growing in my mind for some time:

‘In the past, just about every advertiser has assumed that in order to sell his goods he has to convince consumers that his product is superior to his competitor’s.

This may not be necessary. It may be sufficient to convince consumers that your product is positively good. If the consumer feels certain that your product is good and feels uncertain about your competitor’s, he will buy yours.

If you and your competitors all make excellent products, don’t try to imply that yours is better. Just say what’s good about your product—and do a clearer, more honest, more informative job of saying it.

If this theory is right, sales will swing to the marketer who does the best job creating confidence that his product is positively good.”

This approach to parity products does not insult the intelligence of consumers. Who can blame you for putting your best foot forward?”

Convince your customer that your product is positively good. You’re itching for an example. I can tell.

Southwest Airlines does a spectacular job of putting its best foot forward, which is genius move since flying is nearly intolerable these days. Crowded planes. Skinnier seats. Delays upon delays eventually leading to the dreaded flight cancellation.

Seriously. No one is happy to fly.

No one but Southwest, that is. See, the airline’s strategy—in a nutshell—is to make flying more enjoyable … to be more like-able than the other guys. And Southwest’s advertising does a brilliant job at communicating that its airline is positively good. Just look at some of the airline’s most recent billboards which shine a spotlight on the positive-side of traveling.

I absolutely love these ads. They’re fun and creative—but also relevant. Come to think about it, Southwest’s television commercials do a pretty darn good job, too—all without a whiff of hype, clichés, and unsubstantiated claims you hear so often during these marketing-averse times.

Let’s take a look:

Sure—Southwest’s television ads make a contrast between Southwest and the other airlines. But don’t be fooled, Southwest is still selling a parity product. The company flies the same model of planes that all the other airlines do by pilots who have all been trained at the same flight school as every other pilots.

When you sell a commodity or parity product … when the product you sell or the service you provide is fundamentally the identical to your competitor’s … your job is to be more like-able, and you do this by communicating that your product or service is positively good.

Capiche? Alright, then.

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And let me hear from you. Send in your marketing and advertising questions. Hit me up at, and I’ll give you an answer right here.

As always, we’re in this together. I’ve got your back. I’ll see you real soon.

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