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27 July 2011,
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The Root of Differentiation

27 July 2011
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Business owners try so hard to find a way to differentiate their product, their service, and their brand.  They spend a lot of money on advertising, branding exercises, etc.  And for a precious few, it works.  Yet the majority of businesses don’t get the maximum impact from their efforts because they haven’t delved deep into the root of differentiation.

So what lies at the root of differentiation?  Believe it or not, it all starts with the people and the culture.

How does the market FEEL your difference at every encounter, every “moment of truth” in which they interact with you?  How does the market sense the SOUL of your company radiate in the way your people present themselves as your ambassadors?

Or is your company SOUL-less, SPIRIT-less?  Is your company just a bunch of people just doing their job not really knowing the real purpose of their work?  Are you relying too much on the product to wow the market?  What if there’s another product like yours?  Product is the easiest thing to copy.

It’s not just about training your people how to do great service.  At the root of it, people who don’t have the heart and passion to create great service will not do it just because you’ve trained them.  Not that they can’t do it, but they won’t do it.  “Can’t” is associated with SKILL.  “Won’t” is associated with WILL.  Hold of on the SKILL… start by building the WILL.

There’s never been a person who failed purely because of SKILL.  Think about all the stories, we’ve heard about academic dropouts who make it big in the business world because they had the determination to succeed, the belief that they can do it, a clear goal to achieve… and so they searched for the skill or people who can cover their weaknesses.  It’s the typical story of success driven by WILL, not by SKILL.

So the same goes for differentiation.  The WILL comes from understanding your company vision and purpose.  Where are we going and why is it important?  Owners who think that vision is only for senior people will soon find that the rest of the organization operates like time-keeping robots with only the senior people struggling to do their best.

People want to have meaning in what they do, even the junior staff.  Make your differentiation a common goal for the whole organization.

Secondly, WILL comes from the agreement to work with a common value.  Brand Value, Corporate Culture, Rules of the Game… whatever you call it, share this common value with the team to guide them on the basic culture that is the foundation of the company.  And start identifying and rewarding specific behaviors that communicate that value.  What gets rewarded gets done again.

Differentiation starts with every single employee in your organization, including yourself.  They are your brand ambassadors that can make or break your reputation.  Differentiation exercises in the brand and products are important, but without going to the root and working on the people, your differentiation will not be sustainable nor powerful enough to convince your marketplace.

Make it a good day.


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