This morning I drove by an office building I hadn’t been inside for 10+ years. The last time I was there I met with a client — our last meeting. There weren’t any performance issues and the client was kind and paid on time. The problem was philosophical.

I was retained to help my client position their business and sharpen their story to target markets. The problem was as often as they said they wanted to be unique in their target market, they keep pushing my work to match everyone else in their market. They wanted to e different while sounding and appearing exactly like others.

I didn’t come up with some wild story or campaign to be different. And there was hardly anything shocking about the new position. But it didn’t matter — they were afraid of looking and feeling different from their competition.

The interesting thing is the reason they reached out to me is they were disappointed with their sales performance. They were a market laggard and competed mostly on price and availability. Margins were low and competition was fierce. They wanted a new way to compete and attract new business.

The punchline of this short story is if you look-n-feel like everyone else in your marketplace, don’t be surprised when you’re viewed and treated as a commodity. When there’s nothing meaningful to separate yourself from the competition, price and availability become the deciding issues.

You don’t have to do anything crazy, just be meaningfully different.

What say you?

 

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