When you go to buy something yourself, are you more interested in getting the “New” thing or the “Better” thing? Which one gets you more excited? Note: this even applies to Apple. When they introduce something that’s improved (for ex. speed) it gets a yawn. But when they introduce something new (for ex. Face Time or the iPad) “everyone” gets excited.
Yet, what do most owners and CEOs (and their companies) focus their marketing (and strategy) on? Exactly! Being better than their competitors. “Our technology is 10% faster than theirs.” “We have the best pizza in town.” “Our bank has the best customer service in our city.” “Our music rocks more than your church’s music.” “Our paper towels are the better picker uppers.” Etc. Etc. Etc. And yawn, yawn, yawn.
I don’t know if you read “Blue Ocean Strategy” or not, but the metaphor that Kim and Mauborgne laid out in that book is perfect for this point. Their main idea was/is that most companies attempt to compete in a red ocean (an ocean filled with competitors where each is extracting blood from the other) which leads to commoditization and low margins/profits. Instead, they argue, you want to create a blue ocean where you’re the only one who does what you do–which also leads to uniqueness and higher margins/profits.
In essence, it’s the same point I’m making here about marketing (and strategy). Whenever you’re focusing your attention on being better than someone else, you’ve automatically defaulted to a red ocean marketing strategy. Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with that strategy. Being able to claim that your product or service is better by some quantifiable measure (Zyrtex works two hours faster than Claritin) is not a terrible marketing strategy. But it doesn’t get the same attraction and attention that something new does (a la Apple).
Several years ago, Al Ries and Jack Trout, in their book on the 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing brought this to the forefront, when they said,
“Everyone is interested in what‘s new. Few people are interested in what‘s better.” — Al Ries and Jack Trout
I can’t say it any better. In fact, you may want to write that statement on a wall somewhere (like in your conference room). Most marketing campaigns and strategy sessions are focused on being “better,” which isn’t bad–it’s just not great. What you want to focus on is “new, because ”everyone“ pays attention to the ”new“ and ”different“ or ”unique“ thing. Better just gets lost.
So, as you take a look at your company’s products and services, what can you add or change to create something ”new“ and ”different“ this year? What can you do to set your company apart from all the others in your market space? What could possibly create a blue ocean moment for you?
Once you identify that, make sure you make that the focus of your marketing (and strategy). Why? Because, ”Everyone is interested in what’s new. Few people are interested in what’s better.“
To your accelerated success!
P.S. Twenty minutes after (originally) posting this, I received an email from Apple with the following image at the top. Notice the key word.