I went to the local farmer’s market this morning, and just about every stall was selling piles and piles of tomatoes.

Now, I wasn’t all that interested in tomatoes since it was 58 degrees out (hints of fall are finally in the air here in New Hampshire). But that’s not what really struck me.

What really popped out at me was just how similar every offering was. Obviously, they are responding to a combination of factors: what can be grown locally at this time of the year, what customers want to purchase, and what they actually have available from their fields.

But since they were all selling essentially the same thing, it was difficult to say what would make someone decide to buy at one stand versus another.

Would it be price? Probably not — there aren’t all that many prices posted.

Would it be quality? Probably not — they were all pretty similar.

Would it be convenience? Maybe. Some lines were shorter than others.

Would it be variety? Maybe. There were some slight variations in size/color.

Would it be secondary product offerings? Maybe. Some variations in other produce existed from stall to stall.

But ultimately, they were all selling something pretty similar with no obvious attempt at differentiation.

What if one stall touted a particularly low price to get more customers and purchase their other items?

Or perhaps they might offer free/discounted tomatoes with another kind of produce. Or vice versa — to get people to try something different that was perhaps more unique to that farm.

What about a package deal — tomatoes plus basil and mozzarella to make a nice salad? Or garlic so you could make a nice pasta sauce?

My point is simply this: if you are selling the same tomatoes as everyone else, you need to find a way to differentiate — and make sure your potential customers know about that difference!

Now you may not be selling actual tomatoes. But how do you communicate how your product or service is different — even if it is very similar to the competition?