December 15, 2009
Organizations are inherently rich in opportunity to BE DiFFERENT. The challenge is to land on a capability that not only plays to a competence the organization has, but also reflects a compelling need that a target customer group exhibits. Remember, it makes no sense to focus on something you do exceedingly well if it is not a high priority for the customer group you have chosen to serve.
Look to every dimension of your organization to be the custodian of competitive uniqueness: customer service and support, brand, information technology, employee expertise, marketing focus, strategic partnerships and product/service technology are all examples of aspects that could represent potential for an only claim for your business.
Most organizations tend to look to a product or service to create their distinctive edge, and technology plays an overwhelming role. Nothing wrong with this approach but it can be relatively easy for others to compete with you. The Smartphone market is a good example. The first mover was RIM with the Blackberry product and now their are numerous players - Apple, Motorola, Nokia etc. - all competing to get a piece of the action with their version of a smartphone. It remains to be seen if RIM can make another move to BE DiFFERENT while Apple’s iPhone with its broad applications portfolio continues to capture more of the market. I have said before that the plethora of app’s is a great example of customer learning on the part of Apple and of the ability to create Offers around each one that sets them apart from their competitors.
I like what Ganz did with the Webkins ‘product’. They took a commodity-ish product like a child’s plush toy and created a fun experience-based Offer around it using the capabilities of the internet. Check them out.
Customer service - or Serving Customers as I call it - is another area where companies claim they are DiFFERENT. Be careful to avoid the use of aspirational notions such as ‘We provide the best service to our customers’. Be specific about the experience your customers can expect from you that they won’t get anywhere else.
Think additive as you consider how to BE DiFFERENT. Create a product, for example, and extend it (like Ganz did for Webkinz) to include other value components. Look to the internet for help. The broader your Offer the more DiFFERENT it is likely to be NOW and the more difficult it will be for anyone to copy in the future.
Here are some nook and cranny steps:
- decide WHO you want to SERVE in terms of the group of customers that present the biggest opportunity for your organization
- Understand their greatest need
- study how others are satisfying the need
- define the capability you need in order to satisfy what your chosen customers desire
- figure out how you can either create this new capability or leverage an existing one to BE DiFFERENT
- think additive around a product-centric approach
- add an internet experience
- add a serving customers dimension
- ‘apple-ize’ your enhanced product Offer: make it flexible to appeal to a wide range of unique needs