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Why do remarkable companies step out of the herd? By Roy Osing

Fuelled by the Internet and technological innovation, competition in every sector is intensifying with blazing speed.

You would think that in the face of relentless competitive pressure, organizations would get more proficient at carving out a differentiated position in their market, creating a value proposition that is crystal clear and unique. 

But it's not happening. In fact, the opposite is occurring. "Un-differentiation" is the norm .

Business is infatuated with copying. Best in class and best of breed are targets for emulation. Benchmarking is relied on as the key driver of improvement and innovation.

Follow the leader is played with the belief that somehow a standout competitive claim will evolve and resonate with customers.

It just does not happen.

The same products and services end up in most organizations' portfolios. Me-too features and capabilities are pushed on the market with the hope and prayer that a miracle will happen and their version will end up being the winner.

What the technology can do is given the limelight over the value it creates for people.

Mass markets are catered to, driven by a one-size-fits-all marketing mentality. Individuals take second row seat to plurality. Product corners are rounded, believing that incremental changes will make the product appeal to more people. The problem is, this strategy results in the product appealing to no one.

Businesses rush to offer lower prices than their competition, believing that this price position will engender customer loyalty and gain competitive advantage. Everyone is in this game to a degree. It seems that the herd races to the bottom on price rather than enduring the grueling work to race to the top on unique value creation for people.

The bottom line: the world is burning with a growing competitive flame yet organizations are not good at establishing a clear, relevant and unique claim that distinguishes them from their competitors and that makes them stand out from everyone else.

What's the solution?

If the competitive herd is copying products and services, features and benefits, the right long-term strategy is to be different, to stand out from the herd.

How do you stand out? By creating and delivering value that is relevant (something that people really care about) and unique (something that only you provide).

The end-game is to create an organization that consistently creates distinction, uniqueness, remarkability,gasp-worthiness, indispensability, memorability and unforgettability for the people it chooses to serve.

These are the key strategic concepts that should drive how we innovate and shape our organizations.

These are the characteristics that attract people to buy from an organization because it makes them feel good. Yes, feelings are a hard-core business concept that drives repeat purchases and long-term customer loyalty.

On the other hand, if you can't be gasp-worthy to people, be prepared to be common, ignored, invisible, dispensable and dead (sooner or later).

Be different or be dead.

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