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Differentiation

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Sometimes different is good. Other times you don’t want to be different. We want to blend in. Remember high school? Being different was death. You wanted the same kind of shoes the popular kids wore, modeled the same haircut and mimicked the same cool way they carried a comb in their pocket. You followed their rules, made fun of who they made fun of, went where they went. In life as in business, in times of stress people revert to the behaviors that served them well in the past. When the store down the street starts stealing market share, you start to talk like they talk, sell what they sell. You mold yourself to fit their image and hope Ms. Jones will not see through to the insecurity that lies beneath. After all, you’re both selling about the same thing for about the same price. Right?

But when products are homogenized, price is neutralized and promotions are marginalized, how will you look in Ms. Jones’ eyes? She is shopping for an experience, not just a product or price. What makes her experience at your company different? Before you confidently cry, “Why, our service, of course,” you’d better take a good long look at the popular kid down the block. They’ve got service, too. Is yours so special? Where are those cool kids from high school now? Are they the successful citizens of your town, or is their notoriety limited to the police bookings page of the local newspaper? Or are they just normal folks, going to work and raising their kids in quiet? How about you? What sets you apart? Why should Ms. Jones shop with you rather than someone else?

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