Jan 18 20110 comments
How to differentiate yourself
This (book) is not a how-to. The reason I find how-tos discomfiting is that there is always the slim chance that people may actually take them on faith. What business-people need today is a fresh set of insights, not a fresh set of instructions.
Last year I read more than 80 books in all genres. If asked what was the best one, I would no doubt answer “Different (by Youngme Moon)”.
I first heard this book through audiobook. While listening to this book, many new ideas came to mind so I had to basically stop the book many times to write down the ideas. After I finished listening to it, I found the book so inspiring that I listened to it again. Ideas kept flowing in so I decided to buy a copy of the book. This rarely happens…
I don’t seek knowledge in books. What I seek is “inspiration.” I want new ways of seeing things, new ideas to try out to tackle the problem I’m facing both business and private.
Since many people know that I read a lot of books, I always get asked: “Do you know any good books to read?” followed by the more concrete question, “What was it about?” But I find this question hard to answer. It would be much easier to answer if they asked “What kind of ideas popped up reading the book?” you get the sense…
Professor Moon starts off: “This (book) is not a how-to. The reason I find how-tos discomfiting is that there is always the slim chance that people may actually take them on faith. What business-people need today is a fresh set of insights, not a fresh set of instructions.”
“Yes! This is exactly what I’m looking for!” and I instantly got drawn into the book.
In the book, she writes about when a company tries to differentiate its products (by adding new features and so on), other companies will imitate it. This vicious circle creates intense competition. As a result one big family of product groups (e.g. LCD TV market) will emerge and every product will look just alike the other. In other words, the more you try to differentiate, the more you become the same as others. How ironic! And the main topic of the book was how to attempt to keep differentiate yourself.
The topic itself is not much different from other famous marketing books like the “Blue Ocean Strategy”. However, the examples she puts in the book are very interesting. It provides you with a unique way of looking “differentiation” in a very easy-to-understand way. I especially like the conversational tone she writes in as if saying : “Let’s think together…” I felt warmth in this book which I’ve never felt in business books.
While I was listening to the audio book, I kept thinking: “How I can apply her differentiation concept to myself?” as an individual. Take for example the poster of MINI Cooper, a British micro compact car. When it was first introduced to the US market in 2002, it was the golden age of SUVs. Normally, you would want to hide that the car was tiny and emphasize its “stylishness” or “the amount of stuff you can load” despite the size of the car.
But MINI created a poster like this:
XXL, XL, L, M, S, MINI
XXL, XL, L, M, S, MINI
It seems as if it’s challenging people by saying like, “Are you worried about how tiny we are? We go way beyond that!” On the second poster, the company decided to put MINI on top of a SUV. It’s as if saying: “Do you think I will get bullied by SUV? You’re thinking too small!”
When such examples and messages that give you a new way of seeing things, it makes you feel: “It’s okay that you’re different. Rather than being ashamed and hiding it, cherish it.”
I’ve always thought of trying to gain new skills to be competitive. But reading this book tells me that it’s better to emphasize your weakness or just be yourself.”
Differentiation is a way to thinking. It’s a mindset. It’s a commitment. A commitment to engage people with—not in a manner to which they are merely unaccustomed, but in a manger that they will value, respect, and yes, perhaps even celebrate…A commitment to engage with people in a manner that reveals to them that, yes, we get it.
A very inspiring quote!