Saturday, April 4, 2009

Collapse of Distinction by Scott McKain

There is a Wal-Mart nearly every 26 miles. Even small communities have a Starbucks and a McDonalds. Chain stores have spread their sameness across the nation. How is a small business going to compete?
Scott McKain gives the little guy encouragement when he cites a Wall Street Journal article that says the Wal-Mart era is over. People are tired of all the stores looking alike. People want distinction. People perceive a business that stands out from others as one that offers a higher value.
McKain spends the majority of his book helping the reader set a plan for that distinction. You must have the passion to create a distinction for your business or you are doomed.
Scott goes against the established wisdom at times (he points out the errors in Good to Great). Paying attention to your competition is not the way to create distinction. You’ll will only create a business slightly different than your competition.
A business will create distinction when it has the characteristics that set one apart: unique product, best value for the price (not necessarily the lowest price), and dealing with customers in a manner unique to the industry.
Identifying these characteristics for a business require several steps. 1) Clarity. Who are you? How would you define yourself and your company? 2) Creativity. After you have clarified who you are, pick out an aspect of dealing with your customers and develop a difference. Don’t just do better what others are doing. Create something entirely new and unique. 3) Communication. Connect with your customers, exchanging information in a manner compelling and engaging. 4) Customer experience. The customer’s experience is to be the center of your work.
There is hope for the small business (or even large business) in a business flooded market. Scott McKain’s book will help a business to create that distinction that will make it stand out in a crowd and succeed.
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