The key to winning loyal customers is to stand out from the competition. Not sure how to do that? For a lesson in differentiation, today we invite you to listen to an interview with Sassa Akervall, CEO of Akervall Technologies Inc. (ATI), the manufacturing company that makes Sisu Sports Mouthguards.
Back in the late 2000s, Sassa’s daughter was playing field hockey, and Sassa dropped by the store to get an essential piece of safety equipment – the mouthguard. When they got home, Sassa’s husband Jan asked her why she was using that when he had invented an even better model.
As it turns out, Sassa’s husband, a dentist who has to routinely perform endoscopic surgeries, had created his own mouthguard to better protect his patients – a design that has worked in over 1,000 surgeries with no injuries. Sassa’s daughter tried it out and loved it. Then her teammates got jealous and wanted their own. Then opposing teams heard about the mouthguard and wanted them too. Clearly, there was a market, so in 2009, Sassa created the company.
Although the business started out with just Sassa, fulfilling orders from her kitchen table, they have now grown into a company of 17 employees working in a 60,000 square foot facility. Sisu is the official mouthguard of USA Field Hockey and US Lacrosse. And the company is now partnering with CCM-Reebok, cobranding a mouthguard to cater to the hockey market.
Sassa has been able to achieve this level of success because of differentiation. Their mouthguard is the latest technology and different from anything else in the market. When people see and try it, they never want to go back to conventional mouthguards. Sassa and her team also do a good job of educating their customers and their distributors about how the product is different, using not just verbal communication but also an informative website and educational videos on YouTube.
Click to listen to the interview below to hear the full story about the Sisu mouthguard and how it has been differentiated in its market, as well as Sassa’s advice for other small business owners.