February 27, 2012

It's Not What You Do, It's What You Do Differently That Counts

By Patrick Mahan

"In order to be irreplacable one must always be different."
 - Coco Chanel, fashion designer

What is it about Chanel that allows them to charge outrageous prices for their products? After all, when it comes to buying handbags, perfumes and jewelry, women have lots of choices. For about 20 bucks they could go to Wal-mart and buy a cheap purse that serves the exact same function as a $300 handbag from Chanel. But women want Chanel. And they're willing to pay the higher price. Why?


Because Chanel knows the secret.


The secret is 
designing more than a purse. It's about designing a unique, remarkable experience for your customers. An experience that goes beyond the product or service. An experience that creates a significant contrast between you and your competitors.

Why is this so important? 



Because without a significant contrast, you're really just a commodity. And what happens when you become a commodity? People will choose you - and leave you - based on one thing only... your price. And t
hat's a bad position to be in. 

You want people to choose you
regardless of your price. And they will, but not if you're playing it safe, following the crowd and doing the same things as everyone else in your market.

Subconsciously, our brains need contrast in order to make a decision. You can have three good products lined up in a row. If all three are basically the same - without any distinguishable characteristics - your brain will have a hard time making a decision. But if one product stands out and is clearly different from the rest, then your brain will gravitate towards it.


Imagine three boxes of chocolate on a table. One box is wrapped in a red ribbon and the chocolates inside are individually wrapped in gold foil. The outside of the box says, "The World's Best Selling Chocolate since 1895... Hand-crafted to perfection by a family of chocolatiers in the Swiss Alps using only the finest local ingredients. Each box is individually numbered and every batch of chocolate is tasted and approved by our Master Chocolatier before we deliver it to your doorstep!"


Which one do you think you'll gravitate towards? Most likely, you'll drift toward the one that is different. The one that distinguishes itself with the best
story

What are you doing to create a "perceived difference" between you and your competitors in the minds of your customers? Are you drowning them in facts and figures... or are you setting yourself apart with a simple story? Remember...
facts and figures fade fast, but stories stick. And when products are inherently similar, the marketer who wraps his product in the best story often wins.

When a woman buys a purse from Chanel, her decision isn't based on functionality... it's based on fantasy. A fantasy that Chanel has crafted with great precision. It's not just the quality of materials they use that sets them apart. It's the story they've created. A story of elegance and class that is woven into every handbag and infused into every bottle of perfume.


Today, you have to be an outlier. You have to be different. If you stand in the middle of the road, you're gonna get run over.


There's an old Chinese proverb that says, "He who walks in another man's tracks leaves no footprints."


What are you doing to distinguish yourself in the marketplace? What are you doing to leave your own tracks?


You can add new products, you can add new services, you can add better materials, you can add lots of things in hopes of attracting new customers. But ultimately, it's not what you do, it's what you do 
differently. That's what really attracts people. And that's what turns prospects into loyal customers.

What 
specifically are you doing to differentiate yourself, your products and your services? And do you have a story that clearly illustrates this difference in a memorable way?


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