BE DIFFERENT or be dead, by Roy Osing: Book Review

BE DIFFERENT or be dead book coverBE DIFFERENT or be dead! – Roy Osing sends a clear warning in his new book (amazon affiliate link) by the same name. It is a warning to businesses of all sizes – in the coming economy and competitive times, we will have to learn to differentiate our businesses better than ever or we risk extinction.

Roy delivers his “BE DIFFERENT” blue print for creating meaningful differentiation that can be used for both service and product-driven businesses. That is one of the books biggest strengths. In its pages you will find a step-by-step process for changing your business and aligning it with your consumers’ basic needs, wants and desires.

Not only does Roy deliver some great content, he also gives us a book that is highly readable. He provides great section overviews, chapter highlights and “quick hits” that make the book easy to read, highly scannable (yeah, not a real word, but it gets at what I mean), and cognitive friendly. This is probably an odd thing to focus on, but it is important. So often, business book authors don’t take their readers into account. Roy obviously cares about his readers and he has worked hard to create a book that is memorable.

Highlights from the book:

The “only” statement: We live in a world where just about every product and service imaginable can be copied and sold at a lower price. To combat this, we have to find ways to drive value for our customers and that value has to be meaningful.

Roy starts off the process by looking closely at how great vision statements are developed. He talks about them in terms of being the “only” business to offer this or that. For example, a grocery store might say, we are the “only” store in town that offers one-hour delivery on all call-in orders. It is the “only” that sets us apart from our competitors.

I consult all the time with small businesses about this exact topic and I am now trying to figure out how to incorporate Roy’s “only” idea into our training. It is a nice way to explain differentiation and one that resonates with both business owners and their customers.

Strategy vs. Tactics: Roy spends a great deal of time talking about the importance of formulating and focusing on your business strategy. No matter how much this gets stressed, businesses often get caught up in reactionary tactical decisions that make little difference in the long run. Roy helps provide clarity to this issue and he doesn’t hold back on any punches.

He even goes as far as suggesting that we ignore our competitors. This is in alignment with what Jason Fried and his team discuss in the book “Rework.” If we focus on our strategy and are passionate about executing it perfectly (another Roy-ism), we will force our competitors to be the reactionary ones. This is great advice. Sure, you want to keep an eye on what your competition is doing; however, you must carve your own path and focus on staying relevant with your customers.

Core service versus service experience – For me, this was the most valuable part of Roy’s book. Though I enjoyed the entire book, section four drove home some of the most relevant issues for me and what I deal with on a daily basis. He talks specifically about the difference between “core service” and “service experience.”

“Core service” includes all the base-level expectations that a consumer has about our business. Are our shelves stocked? Can they find the products they need? Is our staff available to help them? Are our bathrooms clean? Does our website help our customers answer them immediate questions? You have to deliver on your core service; however, core service does not build loyalty. Instead it only helps deliver customer satisfaction.

“Service experience” is how we move our products and services above and beyond consumer satisfaction. Are our customer service reps helpful? Do they go above and beyond to take care of customers? Are they willing to break the rules to deliver happiness and wow our customers?

The distinction between the two components is absolutely vital. As Roy puts it, “core service” does not build loyalty. It can only get your business to a satisfactory level. Customer loyalty is built by exceeding expectations and delivering a unique, tailored and memorable service for each of them.

Last Thoughts

Roy’s book is a great read. If you in the process of building a new business, this is a critical resource to make sure you get it done right. If you have an existing business, Roy’s advice and experience will serve as a nice plan for refocusing your business on what matters most to your consumers.

Roy’s book is great and it is one that I learned a lot from. Though Roy’s experience comes from a unique industry, he has a keen grasp on one of the biggest problems that most businesses face – as products and services become commoditized, so are many businesses. If we want to survive, we must BE DIFFERENT.

“BE DIFFERENT or be dead” is a great read for entrepreneurs, CEOs, and business leaders. I would even say that if you are concerned with your personal brand, there are many wonderful things to learn from Roy’s book. I’ll be back throughout the next couple weeks with a few insights I grasped from Roy’s book.

If you’ve read “BE DIFFERENT or be dead,” what did you think about the book? What were some of your highlights? What did you learn that is changing how you run your business? What would you have changed about the book to make it better?

I will be back over the next couple of days with an interview I conducted with Roy, who was gracious enough to answer a few questions I had about the book.


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