“BE DiFFERENT or be dead”: How I am applying what I learned (part 1)

I’ve already spent three days talking about Roy Osing’s book, “Be DiFFERENT or be dead,” so I thought it might be fun to end out the week with some additional thoughts about the book and what I am currently doing to apply the things I learned. Today, let’s talk a bit more about what I am doing with his use of the “only” statement.

In the book, Roy takes a lot of time talking about how businesses need to take a long look at themselves and figure out what they can do differently from their competition. He asks all of us a cool question – what are doing that no one else in your market is doing? Once you’ve got an answer (if you have something), you then need to answer this by creating your “only” statement. Here are a few examples of what the might look like:

  • We are the only insurance agency that promises you free use of a rental car while you wait for your car to be repaired.
  • Our store is the only one in town that offers a fully-staffed daycare facility so you can shop without any distractions and still know that your children are safe.
  • Our restaurant is the only one this side of the Mississippi that offers made-fresh, authentic, Cajun catfish.
  • We are the only car dealership that backs its cars with a bumper-to-bumper, 20 year warranty.

Think about the “only” statement like this. What if you were planning on starting your own rock band? It would be a ton of fun, but the challenges are immense. You might have a really talented guitarist and drummer. You might also have a talented lead singer. But getting discovered by a major label requires you to have more than talent. The biggest problem you face is that there are tons of other bands out there with the same quality of musicians and singers. Many of them might even be better than your band is. To survive and make money, you have to be different.

You have to find a way to stand out from the crowd and figuring out how to do this is one of the most difficult tasks in music (and in business). It means defining yourself and this requires you to look long and hard at what you are really about.

What rock genre will you focus on? How will you be different from the other bands that also belong in that genre? What will you name your band? Do you stand for something other than just making music? Is there a niche that you love? Is it possible to create your own niche?

Consider U2 for a minute. They are great musicians and they have pushed the boundaries over the years as they have taken their original music and experimented with new sounds and genres to take their music to a whole new level. Aside from their music, they have branded themselves in unique ways. There’s the mysterious guitar player, The Edge; and one of the most famous singers in the world, Bono. U2 is a band that made its mark by taking a stance against the violence that was brought upon their country by England. But as time went on, their sense of social justice grew and the band has aligned itself with a number of social justice movement.

How are you different? What are you doing that no one else can do? Is there a niche in your market that no one has filled? Could you create a new niche or redefine your business in a way that no one has ever thought of?

For myself, I have been looking at how I can take Roy’s ideas and apply them to myself, my personal brand, my career, and my blog. Next month is my birthday and I have been planning on using that time to reflect on these questions. Here are some of the things I will be focusing on:

  • What are some of the things that I want to be doing in my personal life that make me unique and can enrich my life, learning and perspective?
  • What types of books and movies can I expose myself to that will help me grow into a better person?
  • Now that I have completed graduate school and have some great experiences behind me, what areas of my career development do I want to focus on?
  • How am I different from the other marketing professionals out there?
  • What projects do I want to lead or be a part of that can help me accomplish my goals and will lead to me being different?
  • How can I bring more focus into the “marketing matters” blog that will help it stand out from the other blogs that are out there?
  • Are there some side projects that I can be working on that would help me diversify?
  • What am most passionate about?
  • What can I do to have some more fun?

I have already started answering some of these questions for myself. More importantly, I have already begun to share some of Roy’s insights with the retailers and team members I work with on a daily basis.

As a part of the training and consulting that we do, we often ask our teams to develop a vision statement. The challenge we often run into is that it is easy for vision statements to run amok or to be too broad. I have started using some of Roy’s ideas about the “only” statement to help focus these conversations and provide them with more direction. Already, we have seen a number of nice results.

Tomorrow, I will be back with an additional insight from “BE DiFFERENT or be dead.”


4 thoughts on ““BE DiFFERENT or be dead”: How I am applying what I learned (part 1)

  1. Great post Jason! I have been thinking about these very things lately. You caused me to look at a couple of angles that I had not thought about.

  2. Jason,
    This was a nice round of questions-very thought provoking. I am presently doing a “renovation” of my business model and these questions will now become part of my “food for thought.”
    Have a great day.

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