Tag Archives: differentiation

Different: Escaping Mediocrity

be different

There comes a point in time when all business compete for the same thing: sameness.

It shouldn’t be this way, because competing to be the best at what everyone else does leads to mediocrity. On today’s episode we discuss how to escape mediocrity; not mindlessly pursue it.

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.

Innovation Radar

How can a business differentiate without changing the product itself?

How can a business differentiate without changing the product itself?

Via Quora: What can you change in a business that is strong enough to differentiate the business from all competitors, but without touching the product itself?

For example,

  • GILT, changed PRICE but didn’t change product, and opened a niche for discounted designer clothes.
  • Phones International, changed the DISTRIBUTION MODEL of the mobile phone industry but it didn’t change the product (cell phones), and opened a niche for ‘single brand distribution.
  • The Book People, changed the TARGET CUSTOMERS, but didn’t change the product (books), and opened a niche selling books to corporate clients.
  • Adwords, changed the BUSINESS MODEL, but didn’t change the product (display ads), and opened a niche for ‘performance advertising’.

These are significant differences that not only differentiate the companies from all the others, but disrupted the market in some way.

What other variables can you change in a business in this way?

How are these variables called?

Where can I learn more about this?

Every strategy should Make a Difference

Isn’t it kind of old to see the word ‘differentiate’ on proposals? I mean, any strategy should be different. And adding the words ‘different’ to proposals doesn’t necessarily make it different. Difference is in the actions. Not the words.

Here’s a thought: Let’s frame differentiation as creating memories.

Look at the video below:

Unconventional marketing strategy starts with ‘what not to-be’

The element of . Remember that? Here’s another clue, check it out…

I was reading , Miki Agrawal, an unorthodox pizzeria in NY. The interview is all about how he ‘surprised himself’ but the last question (about their marketing strategy) reveals an interesting answer:

It’s about being unorthodox, it’s about how you stand out. When you think about branding, you have to think about every touch point of a business. You can’t just change the ingredients because that’s not enough. You have to change the packaging, the marketing materials, the web experience. Everything has to change to create an impactful experience.

So we try to NOT look like a pizza place, but still have that familiar feeling. Our packaging is long, rectangular boxes; we serve the piece in four bite-sized pieces on a sushi plate. It’s a neat and clean, pristine experience; it’s not like you’re picking up this giant pizza slice. It slows down your eating. You’re not shoveling something into your mouth. You allow your stomach to catch up to your brain. It also promotes sharing. I can order a different pizza from you, and we can share.

So those are three differentiating elements: it’s neater and cleaner, it slows down eating, and it promotes sharing. So it’s a different experience.

Bingo! Meaningful difference is what I got from that answer. Anybody who hears that will ‘get it’ right away. What’s also awesome, is the way he puts it: We try NOT to look like a pizza place. That’s a good way to ‘’ and shatter expectations.

Want to do the same?

Here’s an exercise for you:

  • Write ‘let’s try NOT to be like <insert your category here>’ on the biggest whiteboard in your office where everyone in your organization can see it.
  • Next, let everyone know that you have a mission today to shake things up, tell them about how the message on the whiteboard will help you do that.
  • Next, invite your peers to contribute ideas on all the possible ways you can be the opposite of your category. Some people will laugh, others may already have some ideas hidden somewhere in their brains. You can collect these ideas by email, on an internal wiki, internal blog or pieces of papers. What matters is that you do it.
  • Once done, collect all these ideas and have a few people help you cluster them around ‘themes’ and put them where everyone can see.
  • Next, it’s show time! Via votes (number of ‘likes’) decide which ideas are ‘meaningful’ and ‘doable’. It’s important that you get the list down to only a few things that really ‘make a difference’, this will be tricky but very important.
  • Next, it’s time to action plan your ideas.

I know this is a fairly simplistic list, the intent is not to make it an activity so complex that people will lose interest. Remember, you’re asking people to get uncomfortable!

Thoughts?

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Weekend innovation tip: Look for innovation across boundaries

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Living in Mexico most of my life I see a lot of people and businesses adopt the ‘imitate to benefit’ syndrome. Where they copy and paste what their competitors do in an attempt to benefit from their success.

This is a flawed strategy!

Following best practices is a sure path to irrelevancy. You’ll only get as far as your competitors goes.

Mexico is very good at copying best practices and then turning them into crap. Commodities as far as the eye can see I like to say! (I’ll write more about this in the future) but, I’ll quote :

 

To not end up a commodity you must defy best practices

 

To differentiate yourself you need to pick apart your business, see where you can differentiate and .

This is outside-industry benchmarking.

Benchmarking is usually done within a company’s own industry, they compare themselves against the best-in-class companies to identify best practices for new processes, methods and tools as well as fresh ideas. This is like looking in the mirror, you’re talking to yourself but nothing out of the ordinary is coming out of your mouth.

Taking 5 movie full

Adapting ideas from other industries is tricky since practices differ and thus requires open minded people but applying some known creative techniques can give you a head start:

The Girl Next Door movie download  

  • Identify a problem area where you want to improve.
  • Identify industries and companies that you could model.
  • Go out on the field and do the research on those companies.
  • Map the insights gathered to your business.

For example if you’re a italian restaurant and want better serve your customers, instead of looking at other restaurants look at other companies who are considered the best at customer service in their respective industries. For example Amazon, Zappos or the Ritz Carlton.

Learn from them, borrow ideas that might be relevant and see how they could be applied to your particular challenge.

 

Key takeaway: The best practices of your industry are already irrelevant, look outside your business or industry for ideas and transform your business.