It’s almost a mission impossible; in a market as saturated as the FX trading industry brokers are surely having trouble differentiating themselves from other brokers, certainly also given the pervasiveness of MT4 and the race to the bottom in terms of spreads.
That is not to say there aren’t any possibilities. Given how expensive marketing in this industry is, Brokers need to find a way of differentiating themselves or break the bank with advertising. You should do both and reap the benefits, but doing either is possible too; as we see every day from vanilla MT4 brokers with no real unique selling points (but getting clients by doing a lot of advertising) or by looking at a broker like Oanda which grew just by being different.
So, how can a broker differentiate?
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Well as I see it there are a couple main things clients look at when selecting a broker, research shows time and again these are most important; price (spreads!), product (trading products available), platform, service & trust.
Brokers can use each of these selling points (and others!) to analyse the competition and differentiate their offering accordingly. But a radically different product is not a pre-condition. In FMCG, companies like P&G use different brands for each product category. They are number one to three in most markets they are in because they analyse the market and find a profitable gap in the competition’s communication. Their products are not radically different than any of the other players – the brand and its communication is.
As implied in above example, an important rule in differentiation is specialization. P&G would not be where it is today if it was all things to all people; in practice that means they haven’t used one brand for all their target audiences. Etoro and Easy Forex are good examples of brands focussing on a sub group of traders, but there are others. I believe we will see this more and more also in the FX industry as it matures – a combination of the two tactics of differentiation and specialisation would surely help a lot of brokers in this market.
Leaves me with one fun example of differentiation on a less strategic basis; CeasarTrade calling trading on margin a bonus.