One great way to stand out and differentiate, is to do the opposite of what everyone else is doing. An opposition strategy is usually the result of challenging long held assumptions of how things are done, this is the domain of us ‘crazies’ who question authority.
I spotted a restaurant on Springwise that is quite literally the ‘anti-restaurant’. Street Dinner’s concept is based on using the element of surprise for location and everything else that goes into a dining experience. Instead of having dinner at a determined location, knowing what the menu is and having it served the same way at a traditional restaurant; it does the opposite:
Participants in Ferrara’s September Street Dinner began by purchasing for EUR 60 per person a package for two that included separate tickets for aperitifs, a table and two chairs, and two dinner menu choices; also included were two Street Dinner sweatshirts, instructions and a map of the city. Guests also provided their mobile phone number up front. Then, on the designated evening, an SMS arrived revealing first the location where aperitifs were to be served. Next, an hour before dinner, a second text message told participants where to pick up their table, chairs and chosen meals. Finally, after that a third text message revealed at last the location of the dinner. An option including overnight stay in a 3- or 4-star hotel was also offered beginning at EUR 115 per person. All participants were entered in a drawing for a free trip to Mauritius as well. Operated by travel agency Link Tours with sponsorship from a variety of other local organizations, the Street Dinner is planned to occur again at some as-yet-unspecified date in 2011.
This is a favorable strategy when you identify that herd behavior is prominent, and every competitor is adopting very passive behavior to competition. Basically when you can’t tell what makes one competitor different from another. My argument is not to adopt the opposition strategy just for fun or because it seems like an easy way to stand out, but to first identify in what situation it’s valuable.
Here are a few situations when it’s a valuable approach:
- When the system is stuck. When an entire industry is stuck in an old perspective, everyone holds the same beliefs of how things should be done. Time to shake it up.
- When you want to piss off competitors. When others are worried about making their next sales goal, you’re actually focusing on making customers happy ala Zappos. That forces competitors to have to adopt a behavior they don’t really want to. Kings to you.
- When you don’t want to appear as a threat. Madness creates opportunity. By acting deliberately crazy no one will want to compete with you on your terms.
- When you want to be known for something. As Youngme Moon says: Differentiation is a way of thinking. It’s a mindset. It’s a commitment. A commitment to be different, not in a superficial, I’m-going-to-offer-a-couple-of-features-my-competitor-doesn’t-offer kind of way, but in a way that is fundamental and near impossible to replicate. Bottom line: Have a point of view.
All above points can be the direct result of doing the opposite as everyone else. It’s also a risky approach because most times it requires new capabilities and provokes competitors; thus it often results in changing the game!
What do you think, in what other situations does it apply?