Want explosive growth? Then break from convention!
August 7, 2014
Is convention a good thing for you? Are you doing things that others are doing as well? Do you follow the crowd so that your customers will feel comfortable with that?
If any of the above describes you, you may be in for a nasty shock – you are probably not offering any more than a commodity. And commodities are at the lowest end of the value chain.
Take a look at this infographic…
This was used by Jeanne Liedtka to illustrate the value-add for each class of economic output.
At the lowest end is the commodity. It sells by the pound and there is little to differentiate one bean from another. Look at the other end of the scale. It is differentiated by brand, service and experience. That is where coffee experience differentiates itself from all the other elements in the value chain, and that is where there is highest economic value add.
Starbucks does not run with the crowd; the crowd tries to catch up to it. There are so many me-too cafes that try to emulate Starbucks. But Starbucks will always be Starbucks, which created the coffee experience back in the 80s. If you want to be the Starbucks of your industry, here is what you need to do:
Find your differentiated value
As if this needs repeating; but it is easier said than done. Many people like to hug convention because there is safety in numbers. No one can say you did badly because everyone is doing it. But that will not allow you to stand out from the crowd, even if everyone did things right. You need to find what makes you different and then accentuate that. Are you a designer? Maybe you are great at doing retro print designs? Then focus on that and be the best retro print designer around. Or perhaps you are a Chilean chef? Then focus on creating authentic Chilean cuisine in your neck of the woods. Find that one key element that you can focus on and explode that. I know – you feel that you will be limiting your market by focusing on a small segment. But trust me – it is better to own 80% of a 1,000-person market than 0.5% of a 100,000-person market!
Create an experience far from anything else
When you can differentiate, you can create a unique experience. From our infographic, we can see that the highest value-add comes from offering a unique experience. Holidaymakers these days don’t want to simply visit a country; they want to experience it. And experiential packages have far greater margins than cookie-cutter tours. Even if yours is a manual, boring service like bookkeeping (sorry!), you can still create a first class experience like taking the business owner over the highs and lows of the accounts, painting the situation in a light that will make your client feel good about your service. Or if you are a truck driver and you deliver sand from one place to another, you could make it an experience by letting your client ride shotgun and experience the filling and delivery process, even getting his/her hands dirty in tipping the sand. Every business can design a top-notch customer experience that will blow the mind of their client and leave them wanting more. It is limited only by imagination.
Of course when something is new and novel, many people might hesitate to try it. After all, they also feel comfortable with the status quo. There are two things you can do here: first, seek out the early adopters. These are the people who will try new things for the chance to get a head start over the others. They will try new things because they like the thrill of tracking these things down; the thrill of experiencing (there’s the word again) something no one else has. They might overlook less than perfect quality for the opportunity to be first. So go seek them out. The second thing you could do is to create a risk reduction policy. A risk reduction plan is not simply a moneyback guarantee; it requires that the client experience the product as designed first before they get to seek a refund, if need be. So you can say something like, “After you have taken the alkaline water each day, drinking in at least 4 litres of it, and after you have maintained that for a week, and your gout still remains, we don’t think we deserve your business and would gladly return you your money.” When you can overcome the resistance to try your new product, you can start to grow your new niche.
Finally, repeat the process. Fine-tune your product offering, your value proposition, your service experience. Continuously improve your position and you will experience the explosive growth you’ve always wanted!