Are you in the restaurant business? The shoe business? The yarn business? The consulting business? If so, many thousands of others will be doing the same thing. Your business challenge will be to differentiate yourself. It’s a well established marketing marketing rule—create a unique selling proposition to set yourself apart. But what you’re really doing is taking the status quo and tweaking it. And tweaking is not a way to truly differentiate yourself. It’s a way to be a little bit different.
In the same way that good is the enemy of great. Tweaking is the enemy of differentiating.
What I’d like to suggest is a radical idea. The idea is this: We should all be in the same business.
We should all be in the business of making peoples’ lives better. How you translate that objective gives you the opportunity to shine. Because if you start with the goal of making peoples’ lives better, you have a chance to win peoples’ hearts. That’s really what drives people to buy. If you start with the idea of making a better shoe, what chance will you have?
This is easy to see with yoga, which I practice regularly. This is because the best teachers are in it to make a difference in peoples’ lives. I’ve been to many different studios. One may have a better package plan and another may have a larger dressing. What matters is the teacher and what she brings to a class that has the potential to make your life better.
One of my teachers is determined to help people practice yoga so that they don’t get injured and he focuses on alignment. Another wants to help people become more agile and graceful because she has found this has helped her in her own life. Each has loyal students who will follow them regardless of where they teach and will even spend thousands of dollars attending retreats in far off places to spend time with a great teacher.
I was recently in a class where the teacher observed how a specific tip she offered the class clearly changed the way they were able to achieve greater balance. She literally had to take minute to compose herself emotionally when she saw the positive effect this had on people. That’s how much it meant to her. After class she mentioned to everyone that she would be away the following week and would be away and offered a substitute. She asked how many people would be attending that class and every single person in the class said no. In spite of the fact that, like me, they would rather not miss a class, we knew that the “product” we wanted was irreplaceable. A substitute was out of the question.
That’s what we all want for our business–that there be no substitute.