Think differently!

10 Mar

It’s better to be a pirate than to join the navy.” Steve Jobs, Founder of Apple.

Image credit: Ilounge.com

The concept of being unique or different is far more important today than it was ten years ago. In the era of hyper-competition, people are overwhelmed by choice of ideas, products, and services. In this sea of choices, most customers have trouble making their buying decisions.

As a business, learning to differentiate yourself and create a unique and memorable brand within your market is key to grow your customer base. There are many techniques and ways to identify your differentiating attributes and position yourself through all your business practices.

One common way to have people remember you is to inject some of your own personality into your brand by including one of your “interests”, “passion” into all of your marketing efforts or by doing something out of the ordinary. I came across two examples that combine both tactics:

Free AK-47 with the purchase of a used truck.

A Sanford truck dealership in Florida had an unusual offer last November in hopes of increasing sales: a free AK-47 assault rifle with the purchase of a truck. The buyer has to pass a background check to get the $400 voucher to use it at a local gun shop or as a discount off the truck’s purchase price.

The manager explained his choice of this promotion by stating “I wanted to be different and create buzz”.

The same promotion had run in 2009 by Max Motors in Butler, Missouri. Both dealerships confirmed that the program had been a success and had a positive effect on sales. Both promotion campaigns had been featured everywhere but had also generated some angry responses.

Honey, let’s eat dirt!

In 2006, Laura Parker, agricultural activist created a website called Taste of Place where she helps people explore soil tasting.

Nowadays, it seems to be a celebration of the soil and what it yields. Some chefs are so keen on communing with the soil that they are putting it in their dishes. Deliberately. Fine dining restaurants like Copenhagen’s Noma, San Francisco’s Marlowe, New York’s Gilt, and Silicon Valley’s Manresa are all using dirt for garnish and flavor, or to anchor components onto the plate.

These businesses seem to use their unique selling proposition (USP) and promote their exclusive features that other competitors can’t. But as a customer, I won’t be interested or curious enough to use their services or products even if they are presenting a more memorable experience. I definitely remember their offer, I applaud their promotional efforts but I won’t be listed among their loyal customer.

The goal is to be different. Effectiveness requires sacrifice. A business can’t be good at everything and it can’t go after everybody. Now, I wonder: can differentiation reach its limit? When does being different become solely a promotional buzz?

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4 Responses to “Think differently!”

  1. dougbrowncreative March 10, 2011 at 5:05 pm #

    Smart post Asmaa. I don’t think being different in a one-off amounts to much. It’s latching on to that point of differentiation and sticking to it over time that creates a unique brand.
    AK-47 with the purchase of a truck. Only in America. And Afghanistan!

  2. Jenni March 11, 2011 at 12:14 pm #

    Differentiation will reach its limit when things are so different that it becomes normal and the underlying creativity loses its value. Just like hipsters!

  3. Anonymous April 13, 2011 at 9:46 pm #

    I enjoyed your post Asmaa. I agree with Doug that the key to being authentically different, is being consistent with whatever “it” is over time. Being the first to do something different can also help.

    I want to know when the next Zombie event will be at your office? What will you do once everyone else starts dressing up like Zombies and writing consistently great blogs posts? I think you have a good head start.

  4. JUHLi SELBy April 13, 2011 at 9:46 pm #

    I enjoyed your post Asmaa. I agree with Doug that the key to being authentically different, is being consistent with whatever “it” is over time. Being the first to do something different can also help.

    I want to know when the next Zombie event will be at your office? What will you do once everyone else starts dressing up like Zombies and writing consistently great blogs posts? I think you have a good head start.

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