As a business coach, one of the things I help companies do is identify—and capitalize—on their unique value proposition. What is it that makes your company stand out? What do you do that nobody else does? What is it that would make someone do business with you instead of with your competitor?
Sometimes a company’s technology really is superior to that of their competition. Sometimes the quality of a company’s manufacturing is actually better than that of anyone else. Sometimes one company’s experience and expertise simply blows away the competition. Much of the time, however, there isn’t all that much real difference. We may like to think there is, and we often try to convince our potential clients that there is. Often, however, there isn’t that much real difference. And that’s when many companies resort to price-cutting as a means to differentiate themselves.
Great companies, however, learn to think differently about their markets. You may recall the “Think Different” campaign that Apple ran a few years ago. Sure, it was clever and engaging, but there was a whole lot more to it than a catchy slogan. Apple didn’t simply try to make better “boxes” (laptops, iPods, iPhones, iPads), they changed the way people thought about personal computing and listening to music and making phone calls. They thought differently and it changed whole industries.
The folks at Apple certainly aren’t the only ones who learned to think differently. There’s a fascinating book by Vijay Govindarajan called Reverse Innovation: Create Far From Home, Win Everywhere, that also stands conventional business thinking on it’s head.
According to Govindarajan, conventional business thinking embraced the attitude that companies would take existing products created for affluent customers in existing (developed) markets and scale them down for less affluent, emerging markets. Reverse innovation (a new way of thinking) advocates developing innovative solutions that work for consumers in the less affluent, emerging markets and then applying those innovations globally.
Govindarajan also suggests that, “the very organizational best practices that have made global corporations so successful to date actually get in the way of innovating in emerging markets.”
Check out Reverse Innovation for yourself. It’s a fascinating read. But don’t stop there. Ask yourself how you can think differently about your market and your business. That’s the key to differentiating your company’s products or services from the competition!