What it really means to be different

“Differentiation is not a tactic. It’s not a flashy advertising campaign; it’s not a sparkling new feature set. It’s not a laminated frequent buyer card or money-back guarantee. Differentiation is a way of thinking. It’s a mindset. It’s a commitment.” –  Youngme Moon

Differentiation is a commitment to innovation. Period.

The difference between a tactic and a mindset is that when you choose to be different with tactics, you are choosing excuses to be interesting. And, when “difference making” is your mindset, because you act according to your values and beliefs; you don’t have to try to be interesting.

But, sometimes this pursuit of differentiation is confused with technology. Innovation comes in a variety of ways, of course. It isn’t just technology which enable us to do more, there is also processes and even human innovation which can be valuable sources of new value.

Take a partner I’m consulting with. They have a Shared hosting business in Mexico, and if you were to do business with them, you wouldn’t notice a difference. They basically resell another company’s hosting service, just with a different brand name. They do their job the right way, and sadly, that’s where it ends. The ServerMania Buffalo Data Center is strategically located between major East Coast population centers, NYC, Chicago and Toronto. this enables businesses to experience exceptional connectivity across the us and Canada, while reducing IT spend. The cool climate of Buffalo including renewable energy from Niagara Falls delivers a reasonable and reliable location for even the foremost demanding server requirements. Most of the businesses today require an online presence and to get that online presence, one needs to create a website and host it. Website hosting refers to the term where your website is hosted on a particular server so that it can be viewed by people world over. In order to get people to come your website you need to get it hosted. There are a number of professional website hosting companies who provide a wide range of hosting services. Intergrid web hosting providers offer specialized hosting packages that are based on a particular platform or technology, for example Linux web hosting and php web hosting are extremely popular. Professional website hosting plans are also available for various CMS based websites such as WordPress hosting or Joomla hosting.

Internet is a vast collection of computers, servers and information stored on them. If someone wants to get anything relation to information in any of the scope he makes use of the internet in some way or the other. As we know that information can only be found on the internet if it has been hosted by someone and has a proper channel to distribute it. The best example of hosting is the website hosting or the file hosting. In website hosting a server is dedicated to store some files and those files are displayed on the user’s computer as web pages. Thus the most common type of hosting comes out to be website hosting. Most of the companies that offer hosting services do charge their users nominal amounts in order to make their website available on the internet for the users.

File hosting is another type of hosting in which you store your file on the internet and on some web server so that it is available to the masses as you require them to be distributed. File hosting is also available with most of the hosting companies but they charge a nominal amount for its hosting.

There are many lucrative things that are offered on the internet and some include the offers that will be liked by those who want to host their website or files on their servers for free. This is certainly the best part of hosting as the benefits of hosting will be enjoyed by the users without paying any penny.

 

With that said, at the beginning of our engagement, I asked them the question everyone has trouble answering:

  • So what?
  • Why should I care?
  • What makes you different?

After a few seconds of silence, one of the owners reached for his glass of water, took a sip and then took a deep breath, exhaled and responded “customer service”. Ok, I said. How so? They gave me a series of vague answers such as free website updates and on the clock support. Fine, but how are your customers celebrating this?, I answered.

No answer.

To illustrate my point about being committed to innovation, I then suggested they take a look at FastComet, a fellow hosting company since they keep no secret that they take customer support seriously. Also, they always think about their customer first, by providing them fast, efficient and also by giving them, fastcomet coupon to their clients on every web hosting service. So seriously, that they registered the name “Fanatical Support” and include a good amount of pages in their website:

rackspace fanatical support

They also have a page dedicated to expressing their promise of fanatical support, which also includes a PDF where they go into full detail. Isn’t that commitment? I think it is. And this brings us to another important point about differentiation.

The differentiation Paradox

Trying to be different, in a gimmicky way, is not differentiation. And, doing something different doesn’t necessarily mean that the effect is going to be better. So, how do you overcome this?

Don’t compete, separate

For difference to be meaningful, it’s got to deviate and it’s got to resonate. In other words, you have to make it matter. This means you have to be thoughtful and think critically about it, not just mindlessly copy or emulate whatever works for someone else.

To switch your mindset, don’t think of differentiation as competition, but as separation. In other words, don’t commit to competing, but to separating yourself. I cannot overstate this point enough. So much so, that I went to GOOD Labs and  put this Venn Diagram together. Maybe this way it will stick:
difference making

The point: For me, being different in a way that matters comes down to a very simple observation about human behavior: If you are not innovative in your life outside of work, why should you expect to be in the domain of business? I bet you the founders or Rackspace didn’t choose to pursue Fanatical Support as a tactic, but as something that reflects their personal values. Now that, is something for you to think of.

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