What makes you different?
Lately I've been growing businesses using Blue Ocean Strategies the revolutionary process presented in the national bestseller Blue Ocean Strategy. Written by two Harvard professors; Kim and Mauborgne this book gets my vote for marketing /business book of the century.
Business is the art of executing differentiation in a manner that is financially sustainable. Anyone can tell a story about being 'different' and 'unique' but the proof is in the pudding; do clients vote with their dollars, their engagement, time?
I'll use the chicks above to make my point. Imagine being the yellow chick; this chick has difference encoded into her. Her DNA is unique; she can't, not be different. Her difference is not 'brand' 'spin' or 'story' rather good ole fashion integrity: It's who she is.
Now, imagine being one of the dark chickens feeling like you need to do something to be 'different.' In a jam you borrow a leaf and wear it as a sarong. Sure, your different from all the brunettes in the pack but the problem is your difference is not integral, the difference keeps slipping and after a fairly serious session in the hen house you can't even find that darn sarong….How you dress up a business is not differentiation.
Now imagine your a brunette chick with yellow wings and a yellow beak; now that's unique! You can't take your beak off at night, its not a 'story' or just good ward-robing its your recipe, your DNA you show up different time and time again. Consistent differentiation that is encoded into the business recipe, the model is differentiated.
Then there's the brunette chick that has superior foot speed and decides that will be her claim to fame, her differentiation strategy; the way she attracts mates and gets enough food! Who knows it may be different enough, it may not be – is it sustainable? Being the best on key competitive elements is certainly differentiation the question is does the target client value this competitive element; foot speed and will they vote with their time and dollars..proposals and seed?
Integrity matters. Imagine each of these chicks as separate, unique businesses each with their own; yellow, dark with yellow beak and wings, dark with leaf sarong or brunette: business models.
True differentiation is designed into the business model; the recipe of the business.
Your business model is either different or it's not and if it ain't' different it's not sustainable nor marketable so you better look for a leaf…quick or change pens and leave the chicks behind and go hang out with the zebra's- now you are really different.
The key to making the competition irrelevant according to Kim and Marborough is to create a business recipe that provides the highest level of 'value innovation.' Value Innovation is the uncommon pairing of both high value and innovation and it's the key to differentiation, marketability and sustainability in business.
Being different, is not enough…at least not NOW.
After reading and practicing the art of blue ocean strategies with 20 or so teams I still refer to myself as a student of blue ocean strategies but one thing I know for sure; differentiation is not optional; You must be different to grow and you must be different where it counts…
If my business provides something innovative that meets my target clients wants and needs and I do it in a different way at a price that is lower than my clients expected I've nailed value innovation. I will grow if I execute this business model: Sustainable. Marketable. Differentiated
Are you different?
Are you different in the areas that matter to clients?
Are you providing differentiated solutions at a price that's lower than clients expect to pay for this innovation?
Differentiation= Business Growth; done right