Being the Best Is Not a Strategy

In the world of business, everyone strives to be the best. We want to have the best product, the best service, and the best reputation. But what if being the best is not always the best strategy? What if there is a different approach that can lead to even greater success?

The danger of not being concrete

“We want to create the best solution for our customers.” If CEOs say something like that, this means something vivid to them. However, it will certainly not help the strategy.Imagine two teams listening to a statement like “create the best solution” and imagine they develop an app. Team A has the firm belief that best means it is all about quality and develops the app with quality code, and so the customers have no bugs and a quick response time. At the same time, team B knows how important design is and creates an incredible user interface, playful and great to look at.Both teams start at the same spot but go in completely different directions and even work against each other (a loaded UI might slow down the app). This does not work well.

Compete to be unique

What does best mean, anyway? It means ambiguity because what is best is always defined by the context. Instead of aiming to be the best, a more effective strategy is to compete to be unique.The foundation of a successful strategy lies in creating a unique value proposition for the customer group you want to serve. Don’t go for a moonshot to solve everybody’s problems with one solution. You cannot be everybody’s darling, nor should you. To create a unique value proposition, you must answer three crucial questions:

  • Who are the customers?
  • What are their needs?
  • What price are they willing to pay?

To be truly unique and stand out from your competitors, your answers to these questions must differ significantly. By creating your own market and avoiding the competitive spiral, you increase your chances of success.

The IKEA example

A classic example of a company that embraced uniqueness is IKEA. The Swedish furniture retailer revolutionized the industry by targeting a very specific user group: young people with a taste for design at an affordable price.To keep prices low, IKEA sacrificed traditional service by requiring customers to assemble furniture themselves. This unique value proposition allowed IKEA to create its own market and establish global leadership that has remained unchallenged for over 80 years. While being unique requires sacrifices that many companies are unwilling to make, the rewards can be enormous.

Embracing uniqueness in your strategy

Now that we understand the importance of being unique, let's explore how you can incorporate this approach into your business strategy.

1. Understanding your customer

The first step is to define your target customers clearly. Who are they? What are their demographics, preferences, and pain points? By gaining a deep understanding of your customer, you can tailor your unique value proposition to meet their specific needs.

2. Identifying customer needs

Once you know your customers, it's time to identify their needs. What problems are they trying to solve? What desires are they seeking to fulfill? Conduct market research, surveys, and interviews to understand their motivations and aspirations.

3. Differentiating your offering

With a clear understanding of your customers' needs, it's time to differentiate your offering from your competitors. Consider what unique features or benefits you can provide that others in your industry cannot. This could be innovative technology, exceptional customer service, or a specialized niche market.

4. Pricing strategy

Determining the right price for your product or service is crucial. It should align with the value you provide and the willingness of your target customers to pay. Consider factors such as production costs, market demand, and competitor pricing when setting your prices.

5. Effective communication

Once you have established your unique value proposition and pricing strategy, it's essential to communicate it to your target customers and employees effectively. Use persuasive marketing techniques, storytelling, and compelling messaging to convey why your offering is different and the best choice for them.

6. Constant innovation

Embrace a culture of constant innovation to maintain your uniqueness and stay ahead of the competition. Continuously seek customer feedback, monitor market trends, and adapt your offering to meet evolving needs.

7. Building customer loyalty

Creating a unique value proposition not only attracts new customers but also helps build loyalty among existing ones. Provide exceptional customer experiences, personalized service, and rewards programs to cultivate long-term relationships.

8. Embracing risk and flexibility

Being unique often involves taking risks and being open to change. Embrace experimentation and agile ways of working, learn from failures, and be willing to pivot when necessary. Flexibility and adaptability are key to staying ahead in a rapidly evolving business landscape.

9. Monitoring competition

While it's important to differentiate yourself from competitors, it's also crucial to keep an eye on their strategies. Stay informed about industry trends, competitor offerings, and emerging technologies. This knowledge will help you continuously refine your unique value proposition and stay ahead of the competition.

10. Evolving with your customers

As your customers' needs change, it's essential to evolve your unique value proposition accordingly. Stay connected with your audience through surveys, feedback loops, and engagement on social media. By understanding their evolving needs, you can continue to provide unique solutions that meet their expectations.All these points lead you to rethink your business model along, so it best serves your unique strategy. Bureaucratic silos, on the other hand, are hindering your organization from taking risks, adapting to changes in the customer segment and inventing new solutions. It’s crucial to reduce bureaucracy to enable your organization to evolve with your customers.You can start with small agile projects or even think about creating a new organization operating on their own. The important thing is to create the structure so that your teams can be creative and design unique propositions and test them in the market.Photo by oatawa / istock

Innovation
Steffen Bernd
November 6, 2023

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