We need to be different!
I’m sure in a meeting room somewhere, maybe one you were just in, the top sentence was stated. That’s a stupid statement.
No, I’m not calling you stupid, or even calling Bob stupid even though he always says sentences like that. I’m calling the statement stupid. I think it needs to be changed to be “We need to be better!”
Simple enough right? Some would argue that you need to be different and better, and I agree, but allow me to explain why I called the opening statement stupid.
For this, I’m going to use the Custom Audience function from Facebook, Twitter, and now Google, where you can upload your customer list and create targeted ads towards them.
Facebook has had this feature for as long as I can remember. You can upload your current customers with their emails, phone numbers, and more. Awesome right?
It’s so awesome that both Twitter and Google offer this too.
Think about if you’re Google and you don’t have this feature. Your users have been using it on Facebook and they’re happy because they can create ads, or build lookalike audiences, for their current user base. That’s ad money that isn’t going to Google. But you need to be different, right?
Wrong. You need to be better.
Well if you didn’t catch it from the example I laid it, I’ll say it simply. If your customers can do something somewhere else, they’re going to do it. If you can’t offer similar, then they’re going to continue sending their money to someone other than you.
Now that you offer something similar to what your customers are used to, you need to be better. According to the article I linked to above, looks like Google is doing that – barely. The match rate is just slightly higher. So if advertisers were only using Facebook to be able to target their customers, now they’re probably going to go back to just Google.
This concept goes on to more than just Custom Audiences. If your customers are used to having an option that they like elsewhere, and you can’t give them that option as well, then why should they pay you?
Let’s use another example, ice cream. Say you go to Matthew’s Ice Cream and you can choose what ice cream you want AND the cone you want. Then you go to John’s Treats where you can choose what ice cream you want but not the cone. I don’t know about you, but the freedom to choose my own cone wins.
So now John decides to start offering the option to choose your own cone. But that’s not enough. His customers are already happy with Matthew. Why make them switch? He’s not any different. And he doesn’t need to be different. He needs to be better.
How can he be better?
I’m not big in the ice cream industry, so I am sure that others could think of better ideas. But a few suggestions are:
- More variety of cones
- Offer cups for those that don’t like cones (no this isn’t different)
- Larger scoops -get 10% more! (not exactly different)
Hopefully this helps make the point that you don’t need to be different.
Now, for those that want to argue, yes – different options can help. If John offered free sprinkles (and I love my sprinkles) then he would be different from Matthew and he might get some customers from it. But how long until Matthew offers free sprinkles too?
Being different helps some – until your competition starts to offer the same thing. So in order to beat them, you need to be better.
Think of your current industry, what is something that your competitors are doing and they’re all offering. You should offer that too, but do it better.
If you think of something different, do it so well that even if your competitors copy you, there’s no way they can be better than you.
Focus on being better – don’t get wrapped up in how you can be different.
I’d love for you to share your ideas or examples below. Maybe you can describe the point better than I did, or in a way that strikes home for people.