Thursday, January 17, 2013

Create a Standard, Not a Brand

unique selling point
photo credit: Rochelle, just rochelle via photopin cc
How would you answer if I asked you to name Oprah Winfrey's competition? If I ask you to name other talk show hosts, you would have no shortage of names but these people are not Oprah's competition. Oprah and those like her are of a rare type who go beyond brand creation and instead create a standard by which others try to imitate. But imitation is futile, for 'aint nothin' like the real thing baby. So, while everyone else focuses on capturing a niche, turn your attention toward creating a standard in your business or industry.

The Internal Niche

Niche marketing is all the buzz nowadays among aspiring entrepreneurs seeking a sliver of the population that will make them rich beyond measure. By definition, a niche market is:

a demand for a very specialized product or commodity.

But just because you find an under served segment of society does not qualify you to serve them. The result is a string of project starts and stops in search of the right combination of product and market. I refer to this as chasing the external niche.

Before seeking out the perfect product or external niche, discover your internal niche - the specialized product or commodity within that is impossible for others to imitate. If you think this applies only to mega stars like Oprah, consider the following example.

Dentists and Superheroes

My dentist is obsessed with comic book superheroes, which is apparent the moment you walk in his office. The likes of Spiderman, Batman and Superman are all over the walls.  This guy is not the least bit embarrassed sharing his love of comics with everyone he meets.

Go around town and mention the dentist who loves comics and most everyone knows his name. The distinguishing characteristic is not the business or product but what he brings to it - himself.

If I make an appointment during the release of the latest big screen adaptation of a Marvel of DC Comics hero, I know what to expect during the visit. With both of his hands shoved in my mouth, he will entertain me with a detailed analysis of the original story line and Hollywood's interpretation.
Will this obsession make him rich? Perhaps not but it gives him a distinction that cannot be imitated. Copycats lack authenticity and sincerity, so those who attempt to imitate his success will likely fall flat.

Embrace Your Weirdness

Before Oprah became a mega star, she was ridiculed for being too emotional during newscasts. She also did not have "the right look" for television. Perhaps she should have done like everyone else and "re-branded" herself to fit in. I'm sure she would still be successful by most standards, but we probably would not know her name.

My dentist is a bit weird, geeky and silly. I can picture him bumping heads in a more "professional" setting. Even I made fun of him when I first visited his office until I realized my anxiety of dentists dissipated. Now I refuse to go anywhere else.

So, before wasting countless hours burning through external niches, spend time with yourself in search of the specialized product or commodity within and create a standard that no one can imitate. Once discovered, you can integrate this in all areas of your life.

Godspeed and I look forward to seeing you in The Players Lounge.

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