<img src="https://ws.zoominfo.com/pixel/Nfk5wflCTIIE2iSoYxah" width="1" height="1" style="display: none;">

Differentiation Is Not Enough

by Doug Davidoff | May 26, 2010 1:59:51 PM

Let's be honest. While you may provide your customers with the "best" option, the reality is that they have more than enough adequate options. I put best in quotes, because today being the "best" in not enough to win.

Think about this:

    • I think Diet Coke is the best soda, but I'm okay with Diet Pepsi.

    • UPS is my choice for overnight delivery, but I'm okay with Fedex.

    • Starbucks is my favorite coffee, but Myorga Coffee is just fine with me.

If your product or service is merely the best among adequate choices, your market position is precarious. You'll have to work harder and harder, for less and less - just like everybody else.

By the way, differentiation is no longer enough - to succeed in the future you must radically differentiate yourself. You must become a market of one. For example, we're working with a company that provides strategic planning for a tightly defined vertical market. When we started working with them, their objective was to communicate how their strategic planning process is the best. Our advice was that if we focus the conversation on strategic planning, we lose. As long as their prospects can compare them to other strategic planners, there was no way to differentiate adequacy.

What we had to do was identify where and how we could become indispensable. We had to identify the problems that weren't being solved by traditional strategic planning, and focus the message, the approach, and the process to solving those problems. This required us to more tightly define their market, to probe deeply into the results their clients desired, and to develop the tools to have the "what's it worth conversation."

The same is true for you. Stop asking yourself, "What can we do to be the best?" Instead, focus - maniacally - on where and how you can be indispensable.