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03.18.09

Collapse of Distinction: How Do You Get People Thinking About You?

How We Decide
I’ve seen Scott McKain speak on a couple of occasions and he is all about customer experience in both content and delivery. His new book Collapse of Distinction, is no different. The collapse of distinction is a cultural phenomenon of not just blandness, but sameness. McKain writes that it has become a “corporate and professional nightmare.”

The current economic environment makes this book all the more important. The problem isn’t just the economy though; it’s that the economy exposes a problem that is more easily ignored in a good economy. To ignore the collapse of distinction now, can be fatal.

Today customers want value more than ever. How will you create that value? Low price isn’t the answer, but without doing the homework, that’s really all you’re left with. McKain writes, “If you cannot find it within yourself to become emotional, committed, engaged, and yes, fervent about differentiation, then you had better be prepared to take your place among that vast throng of the mediocre who are judged by their customers solely on the basis of price. It is the singularly worst place to be in all of business. If you aren't willing to create distinction for yourself in your profession—and for your organization in the marketplace—then prepare to take your seat in the back, with the substantial swarm of the similar, where tedium reigns supreme.”

Three factors conspire to destroy differentiation:
  • Capitalism Produces Incremental Advancement. We tend to make the “safe” moves not the “smart” ones. Difficult times seem “to enhance our desire to play ‘follow the leader’ with our competition.
  • Dynamic Change Is Delivering New Competition. We try to replicate the perceived advantages of the dynamic new competitor. “Unfortunately, despite your best intentions, you cannot out-original the initial player in almost every situation.”
  • Familiarity Breeds Complacency. What we are familiar with we take for granted. This translates into lack of attention.
Coming to grips with this propensity of human behavior takes a lot of effort. We would rather “execute the least progressive, most conforming activity [we] can to achieve the success [we] desire.” However, McKain lays out the process to overcome sameness to lift you or your company out of the doldrums, as clearly and as simply as possible.

How do you grab attention? How do you get people thinking about you? How do you get the opportunity to use the combination of your expertise and talent?

You can differentiate yourself on product, price, and/or service. For most of us, the only real way we are going to differentiate ourselves is through service. McKain lays out the Four Cornerstones of Distinction and devotes a chapter to each explaining how you apply them in your situation: Clarity, Creativity, Communication and Customer-Focus. Each chapter ends with an executive summary and solid action-points to get the ball rolling.

He says that we have to profitably create experiences that are so compelling to our customers that loyalty is assured. Your organizations survival may depend on the concepts presented in this book. “What is compelling about you, what will create points of distinction about you, and what will establish a connection between us?”
You do not need to change everything about how you do business to create distinction. Start by walking through your list of points of contact with customers, reframing and redefining how you perceive each moment of interaction. From these new perspectives, you can then begin to create specific points of differentiation with your customers. By developing your professional laundry list from the exercise—and recognizing that if these practices are the industry standard, then they will almost always fail to create distinction for you—you are taking an important first step in disciplining yourself as a professional to develop differentiated methods and tactics. Different is not just good, different is better.
As an added bonus, this title is part of the publisher’s Nelsonfree program. By purchasing this book, you can also download both the e-book and the Collapse of Distinction audio versions for free. Three for the price of one.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 03:56 PM
| Comments (0) | General Business , Marketing , Vision



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