Is it better to be different than it is to be better?
- 21 Nov
Australian marketing and business strategist, Barry Urquahart, once said 'It is better to be different than it is to be better'.
But is this the case?
A post on our Facebook page drew a variety of opinions.
Kate Ayres-Rouse, owner of Yellow Kite, a luxury and lifestyle PR agency in Portugal was quick to dive in with 'both!' arguing that a business needs to be both different and better to succeed.
Sam McArthur of internet marketing specialist, Savvy Marketers, qualified the point by saying that it is better to be different as long as different is better (chocolate tea pots immediately spring to mind!).
Another commentator came off the fence and said it is better to be different so that the benefits of first mover advantage can be maximised.
I disagree...and here's why.
There is no fundamental need for a business to be different, indeed the need for a USP is a myth. Competitive advantage is achieved through having a distinctive competency, i.e. something that you are very good at and better than your competitors. That competency might be in an area such as distribution, innovation, marketing or customer service. If you can identify and satisfy customer needs better than your competition, you will survive and thrive.
The argument is backed by theory. Michael Porter said that a competitive advantage exists when a firm is able to deliver the same benefits as its competitors, but at a lower cost ('cost advantage'), or deliver benefits that exceed those of competing products (differentiation advantage). In either case the advantage is achieved by being better, not different.
Of course, it is possible for a business to survive without a clear competitive advantage if the market is big enough to support more than one provider. There is little difference between Starbucks and Costa Coffee - they are both coffee houses with little to distinguish them other than the sign over the door. They have both thrived because they have distinctive competencies in a vast and seemingly insatiable market.
The road to ruin is littered with businesses that strove to be different. The ones that are in heaven are the ones that are better.
What do you think?
- 23 Jul
SharpSpring recently announced the launch of their Visual Workflow builder. The new feature intends to make the process for creating workflows easier and brings it in line with the likes of Pardot...
- 17 Jul
Malcolm Gladwell, in his book Blink, argues that the lengthy procrastination that often takes place in decision-making is ‘post self-justification’, because we actually make up our minds pretty...
- 23 Jun
A news article came out through the Bangkok Post (we found it through The Verge) last week about the arrest of three Chinese nationals. The trio had been paid over £10,000 a month to run a...
- 17 May
Financial services marketing agency, The Marketing Eye, has appointed Jason Dilworth to the new role of Technical Director in a move designed to expand and develop the company’s data-driven...
- 24 Apr
For an industry whose origins and continuing existence rely heavily on the accurate analysis of statistics, the insurance sector would do well to note the seismic shift taking place in modern...
- 19 Apr
Asking someone to buy your product or sign up to your service after only one mail-shot or email is unrealistic. We can’t expect that one email, no matter how carefully crafted, will be enough to...
- 24 Mar
So, your business has splashed out on a big, beautiful high quality piece of video content, you are going to want to stretch it as far as it will go, right? Then don’t do what everyone else does...
- 23 Feb
With around one-fifth of the world’s population on Facebook, you would think generating brand awareness and leads from it would be a piece of cake. The reality is less straight forward. With a...
- 14 Feb
Marketing automation systems are powerful, intelligent and the bedrock of many businesses' marketing strategies, but getting to learn and understand them takes time and dedication. Not becoming...
- 08 Feb
If you look for evidence of the potential benefits to B2B organisations of social media, you will see both lead generation, as well as brand reinforcement are being addressed to great advantage....