by Bernadette Jiwa
Last annotated on December 29, 2014
BEING DIFFERENT VS. CREATING DIFFERENCE
Business has traditionally seen innovation as something that is incremental.
This thinking has led us to bring things to market in a way that looks something like this:
An idea developed with difference thinking looks like this:
We have been conditioned to believe that the way to succeed is to have an advantage, to be different or better. But what does it mean to be different? It means raising the bar, being one step ahead, standing out because you are incrementally better than the competition—at least until the competition gets a step ahead of you. Ultimately, though, it means being on the same page and in the same category as that competition.
Creating difference, on the other hand, is about seeing things in a whole new light. It’s about re-imagining what the problem or the need might be, and then deciding that you will do whatever it takes to be the one to solve this problem for people. This approach leads to the creation of innovations and solutions that redefine the rules of the game, that reinvent a category or experience.
Creating difference is not about finding a new, improved way of beating the competition. It’s about reimagining what it means to be the competition. It’s about closing the gap between what already exists and what could be. Creating difference means setting your own new bar by understanding how to fill the tiniest gap in human desire. Because difference is not just noticed; it’s experienced and felt.
It isn’t the person with the best idea who wins; it’s the person who has the greatest understanding of what really matters to people.
you need to understand the story that people want to believe and become invested in. Because the truth is that you can’t change how people think or what they do without changing how they feel.
understanding why that story should matter to the people you want to serve. You can’t build a great business just by being different. You need to create ideas and experiences that give people reasons to care and to belong, not just reasons to choose.
THE TEN CHARACTERISTICS OF DIFFERENCE THINKERS
- They practice empathy because they care enough to make an impact.
- They have a clear sense of the change they want to make in the world.
- They are impatient about tactics and endlessly patient about implementing their strategy.
- They ask the right questions, and that means that they talk more than twice as much as they listen, because talking takes guts. Mostly, they ignore those who offer empty criticism.
- They watch what people do and don’t just believe what people tell them.
- They innovate and create at the edges, ignoring the market of everyone.
- They make products for their customers, instead of trying to find customers for their products.
- They understand that they need to give people a story to tell—a ‘you’ve gotta see this’ moment.
- They work hard to change how people feel, by creating intangible value that gives them an emotional point of difference.
- They understand that trust is their second-most valuable asset. The first is the willingness to be wrong for the right reason.
Our Marketing-Made World
THE LOST ART OF MARKETING
What’s working now is doing exactly the opposite: figuring out what people want and finding ways to delight one person at a time, one person who is thrilled to talk about you to her friends, essentially turning the funnel on its head.
Marketing has always been an art.
HOW WE GOT HERE
The mix consisted of four Ps—product, price, place and promotion—a list of ingredients that marketers must pay attention to in order to ensure that their products succeeded in the market.
Over the years extra Ps were added. Ries and Trout gave us positioning at a time when more and more products were being brought to market.
IS IT TIME TO STOP ADVERTISING?
advertise (verb) 1. to announce or praise (a product, service, etc.) in some public medium of communication in order to induce people to buy or use it: to advertise a new brand of toothpaste. 2. to give information to the public about; announce publicly in a newspaper, on radio or television, etc.: to advertise a reward. 3. to call attention to, in a boastful or ostentatious matter.
WHY YOUR BRAND DOESN’T NEED A UNIQUE SELLING PROPOSITION
What makes a brand unique now is the difference it creates—how it affects people’s lives and becomes part of their story. When you are organised to create difference, not just to be different, the result is much harder to replicate.
THE SECRET OF DISRUPTIVE INNOVATIONS
The secret of disruptive innovations and business models isn’t that they disrupt an industry; it’s that they disrupt people. They change how people feel about something, in a way that’s enough to change how they behave. It’s entirely possible to look to the future and think about how your customers might be changed tomorrow as a result of what you do today.
THE ELEPHANT IN THE MARKETING ROOM
So if people buy the story—if they buy the fortune, not the cookie; the experience, not just the raw ingredients—why don’t we as marketers work harder to give people a story to believe in?
Our Bell Curve Is Melting
LEARNING HOW TO SEE
TINY MARKETS OF SOMEONE
The truth is that the masses don’t want to feel like ‘the masses’. They want to discern. To choose. To be seen. To matter. Your customers don’t want to be just anyone, they want to be someone.
BUILDING YOUR BRAND ONE PERSON AT A TIME
The truth is that people don’t fall in love with ideas at all. They fall in love with how those ideas, products, services and places make them feel.
PEOPLE DON’T BUY FEATURES; THEY BUY PROMISES
Because people don’t want to do; they want to be. They want to be less busy and more productive, less alone and more connected, less fearful and more safe. People don’t buy features—they buy promises.
INTANGIBLES HAVE A REAL-WORLD VALUE
Time and again the market proves that the value of stuff is finite, but the meaning we attach to stuff—the experiences we create around it and the stories we tell ourselves about it—has exponential value.
VALUE AND THE MACARON EFFECT
THINKING BEYOND CUSTOMER NEEDS
What your customer does, not what she thinks or what she says she does, leaves clues about what she really wants from you. Maybe the real truth is that people know what they want, but they’re just not very good at articulating it.
Truly great brands don’t create products and services just to fulfil customer needs. They create for wants, desires, beliefs, behaviours and unexpressed worldviews. The same opportunity is open to you.
EMOTIONAL POINTS OF DIFFERENCE
Emotional points of difference, the things that are less obvious and sometimes not even articulated, matter.
WHAT YOU MEASURE MATTERS, BUT WHAT’S HARD TO MEASURE MIGHT MATTER MORE
Impact, connection, loyalty and love can’t easily be measured, which is why business hasn’t traditionally made these things a priority. Perhaps it’s time that changed.
The things we can’t measure might be far more valuable to our businesses than the things we can.
RELEVANCE IS THE NEW REMARKABLE
There is no shortcut to creating things that people care for and want to talk about, or to building customer relationships that endure. No easy way to reach everyone. But there are better and more rewarding ways to engage with the people who want to hear from you, like creating helpful content on your blog or treating your most loyal customers differently so that they feel valued.
Don’t just work out how to wave your arms at the masses. Build something just for the people who matter. Relevance is the new remarkable.
WHAT DO YOUR CUSTOMERS WANT?
People are telling us what they care about and it isn’t our products. It’s their journey, their story, the meaning they want to create in their lives.
turns out that the key to creating difference is to make something that changes how people feel and makes them fall just a little more in love, not with what we sell but with themselves.
Made To Matter
THE P THAT MARKETING FORGOT
if we wanted to sell anything in the last half-century, the four Ps of the Marketing Mix were there to guide us.
The P that the old Marketing Mix forgot, one that no business can afford to forget nowadays, was people.
We were worker bees who transformed into walking wallets at the weekend. Today we are powerful influencers who discern and care, and want and choose. Because we can.
DEMOGRAPHICS VS. WORLDVIEWS
The businesses that succeed tomorrow will be the ones that invest time today to work out how to bring products and service to market that show they understand the wants, needs and unexpressed desires of their customers.
WHAT’S THE STORY?
People are very tired of being ignored, of being the 99 percent, of being managed, used, exploited, homogenised, tricked, controlled and forgotten. They want to be a part of something, to have a story to tell, to have something to believe in. They want—actually, no, they expect—the people they do business with to understand them and to build around their wants, their needs and even their unexpressed desires. And it’s our job, yours and mine, to give them that. It’s time to stop thinking about how we can take the money first. It’s time to really understand the answer to the question ‘what’s the story?’
EVERYONE OWNS THE TRUTH
As business owners and marketers (let alone people), that’s exactly what we must learn to get better at doing. If we don’t want to risk becoming irrelevant to the very people we want to matter to, then we need to understand that everyone has their own version of the truth and we’d better know what their version of the truth is.
THE CURRENCY OF THE FUTURE
As our circles of intimacy contract and our circles of influence expand—how many people know their neighbours anymore and yet have 500 ‘friends’ on Facebook?—it gets harder and harder to look people in the eye, to let them know they can trust us.
The currency of the future was also the currency of the past; it’s simply about intentionally creating deeper connections to each other. Before we imagine a world through Google Glass, or a future of wearables, digital storytelling and connection platforms of every kind, we need to acknowledge the truth about where we came from and why we’re here.
THE DIFFERENCE MODEL
The Difference Model flips the product development sequence on its head. Instead of starting with the idea, it begins with an examination of people’s current reality and explores what’s possible in a world where the problems and desires of those people are solved and met. As I explained earlier, difference happens at the intersection of truth, opportunity and action. You can’t build successful businesses, sustain great ideas, or create difference without empathy. Products developed using the old model of the industrial age were built to sell. Ideas developed using the Difference Model are made to matter.
Almost half a century after the introduction of the four Ps of the Marketing Mix (remember, product, price, place and promotion), which sold things aimed at the masses, we’re not just reimagining the way stories about our businesses, ideas, products and services are told.
The Difference Model is built around six pillars: principles, purpose, people, personal, perception and product.
The Difference Model
What’s the truth about us, the industry, the market and the people we want to serve?
Principles are fundamental truths, cornerstones and guiding lights. Every organisation, business venture or tiny project is founded on them; sometimes they haven’t been explored or articulated, but they still exist. When we set out to start something, we have an understanding of the what, the where and the why of it. We might know that we have resources and limitations, parameters that we’ve got to work within.
Principles can be divided into three categories: the truth about you, the truth about the industry or the market, and the truth about the people you want to matter to.
The truth about you: Firstly, there is the truth about you, your people, or your organisation and what you stand for. What do the people who are building this business believe and believe in? (Your organisation might consist of just you, which is totally fine.) What are your goals? What’s the big dream? Your assets and liabilities? Your strengths and weaknesses? Those truths influence the story you can tell your customers.
Understanding the whole truth about you means that you can play to your strengths and have a strategy to overcome weaknesses.
The truth about the industry or the market: What is the truth about the state of the industry that you work in, or the one you hope to enter or change?
The truth about the industry could be the cornerstone of your story because it speaks to the problem you want to solve and the need you want to meet.
The truth about the people you want to matter to: What’s the truth about the reality your prospective customers are living with? What do they believe? How do those beliefs influence how they behave today, and how might they change what they do tomorrow? What problems do they want you to solve? What might they need? What are their unexpressed desires? There is nothing more important to any business today than understanding the worldview of its customers and the reality they live with. Products, services and ideas that fly are created by understanding how to solve real-world problems.
Why do we exist?
Why does your business exist? Your purpose is not what you do, but why you do it. Bringing a product to market isn’t enough. You need to consider Why this product? Why now? And think about the bigger impact you want to create in the world.
Who is this for exactly?
Who are the people you want to serve? What do they value? What do they care about? What’s their current reality? Don’t think simply in terms of demographics; think about your customers’ worldview and how they navigate the world from day to day. Crafting your intention around the difference your product or service will create in the lives and stories of these people, your customers, is what will enable you to go beyond simply being another alternative in a crowded marketplace.
How can we change how people feel?
How can you become more relevant and significant to the people you want to serve? How can your business be about making them live as a better version of themselves? What difference does your product make to them? How you make your customers feel about themselves in the presence of your brand is what matters.
What do people believe? What would we like them to believe about us and about themselves in the presence of our product?
What your customers believe about you far outweighs anything you tell them to think. We connect to each other around our beliefs. Our beliefs also help us to connect more deeply with ourselves. Our beliefs drive our behaviour. Our beliefs and behaviours are the foundation of cultures. The most successful brands and businesses shape and enhance our cultures. Successful businesses are built on being believed and believed in, not just noticed. What do your customers believe about you? What would you like them to believe and say about your brand? What would you have to do to get them to do and say that? What do they want to believe about themselves? So many of the great businesses which have thrived in the last five years were founded, and/or have thrived, in competitive markets because they understood the beliefs of the people they wanted to serve.
What do people really want? What value does your product or service create for customers? What product or service matches the worldview, needs and unexpressed desires of the people you want to serve? What will it take to make them fall in love with your product or service? Don’t just seek to find holes in the market or to gain mind share. Set out to fill a void in people’s lives. When you have all of the pieces of the puzzle in place, you’ll be ready to bring that product to the people who actually wanted it in the first place.
USING THE DIFFERENCE MAP: CASE STUDIES
USING THE DIFFERENCE MAP: THE TEMPLATE
THE THING THAT DIFFERENTIATES A GOOD IDEA FROM A GREAT ONE
Actually, what differentiates a good anything from a great anything you care to think about (business, movie, hotel, product, blog, book, packaging, design, app, talk, school, song, art… keep going) is that the great stuff, the things we give a damn about, have the heart left in them. What do I mean by ‘heart’? The empathy and emotion. The feeling, and yes, vulnerability. Yours, not the marketing department’s. Good products work. Great products become part of our story.
BEING UNDERVALUED VS. BEING ‘THE ONE’
Every day, people are being well paid to use the skills you have, not because they are better than you, but because they decided that’s what they wanted and they worked towards it. They recognised the truth about their talents, they taught themselves how to see what people really wanted, and they executed with difference.
We have two choices. We can stand around looking at the train wreck of what was, or we can design our own futures.
HOW YOU CREATE DIFFERENCE
As soon as we open our eyes every morning, what we want most is to matter, to live a life and to do work that has meaning.
We are living in a unique moment in time. An age where we can bring things to the world without having to own a factory or an office building. A digital age that gives us more opportunities to really listen and to learn how to see what people are longing for.
Our attention can no longer be held by things we don’t care about. Somehow we’ve come to believe that standing out is about being different.
We have the power to create things, experiences, connections, moments and stories that change people. We can reimagine what it means to make an impact. We have the opportunity to reinvent the way we do business. Creating difference is a choice and it’s yours to make. I hope you do, because it matters.