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Being different

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It is actually better to be different than it is to be better. That's the view of business thinker, Barry Urquhart.

Now let me say from the outset that I endeavour to marry most business lessons with some general rules for a successful life. The reasoning is that success in business, especially long running success, more often than not goes hand in hand with a life that at least looks as though it is together. (I know there are exceptions to the rule and the fear of legal ramifications stops me from giving some examples.)

This business recommendation might be a little hard to sell as a rule for living. Urquhart believes we have had a gutful of the ‘bigger, better and best’ promises. He insists modern technology mixed in with common production methods has created motor vehicles, electrical appliances, buildings, etc, which look very similar.

On the other hand, he argues that consumers are on the look out for something different. It could explain how some restaurant food is in and then becomes out just when the mass audience catches up with the trendies.

In my teens it was definitely Chinese. Then steakhouses captured our weekend spend until French and Italian cuisine was the go.
As families became progressively poorer with children, it became McDonald's and pizza and now with both parents working, people are time-poor, so Thai cooking and in-home dining have captured the attention of average Australians.

Of course, the trendies are possibly laughing at this eating history, but I simply plead the dag's defence.

Despite all this, I agree with Urquhart that consumers are on the hunt for something new, but it does have to be a good offer. I'm not so sure that Thai food is better than Chinese, but when it bobbed up and captured diner’s tastes, it certainly was seen as different.

Even in the naming of their restaurants, with ones like Try My Thai or Thai Me Up, instantly capture the imagination of potential customers.

Urquhart says that the ‘90s saw the fast approach, which was considered crucial. Time-poor people love to save their time.

Recently, I dashed up to David Jones (DJs) and got there five minutes before closing. Clearly I did not speed, but I got a good run and parking spot.

Panting at the counter, the sales assistant asked why I was so pooped. I replied that I knew I had to be there by 5:30pm to beat the closing. Didn't I feel dumb when she told they now closed at 6pm. Overcoming my embarrassment which is my natural trait, I proceeded to shop further and bought a new shirt as well.

DJs was different and they got my money. Shops with plenty of parking, fast check-outs, great after-sale service or promises that they will beat competitors prices by 10 per cent all make me want to do business with those stores.

Obviously being different does not mean being better, but I reckon if you can bring off the double play, you will make more sales, get great jobs, meet interesting friends and in all likelihood have a better life.

Sick of putting out fires in your business? Book a free business assessment with Switzer Business Coaching today. 

Published on: Thursday, September 24, 2009

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