Are You a Me-Too?
If you can’t instantly convey what makes you unique and of particular value to a particular person, you’re a me-too copy-cat in the eyes of the market. Take the following test to see how you stack up:
- Are most of your sales opportunities noncompetitive?
- Are you able to charge premium prices no matter how everyone else is charging?
- Is it easy for prospects to quickly understand what you do?
- Is it easy for prospects to quickly understand how you’re unique?
- Is it crystal clear for them to buy from you instead of others?
- Is it difficult for them to do apple to apple comparison of your offering vs others?
- In one sentence, can you state what you stand for?
- Can you state it in one brief phrase?
- Can you capture it in one or two words?
- Would we get the same answer from your employees and suppliers?
- Can you make claims about the resultus you deliver that no one else can?
- Do your marketing collaterals have a unique voice?
- Do you have a strong market position that customers seek you out?
- Do talented recruits seek to work for you?
- Is the market willing to pay a premium for your stock?
If you answered ‘no’ to any of the questions, you have a problem. If more than half of the answers are ‘no’, you’re a me-too commodity and in dire need of a course correction.
Commoditization is the Enemy
The most critical competitive threat to most companies is commoditization in the eyes of the customers and market as a whole. Commoditization causes margins to shrink and therefore reduces the resources to invest back into growth, R&D, training and development, marketing and so on.
- Determine the current gross margin and gross contribution margin for parts of your business that drive most of your revenue.
- Find out how they compare to the rest of the industry. Are they sufficient to drive future growth and investment?
- What financial differences would it make for your business to double your gross margins? What would you be able to do that you can’t do today?
Go-To is the Remedy
There is tremendous economic, operating and long-term shareholder value in being the Go-To brand. By having a reputation that precedes you, being able to name your prince and having customers seek you out, you stand above the rest of the crowd.
- Identify at least 3 Go-To companies in your sector.
- What are things they do differently?
- How would it change if you are a Go-To? What would it be like to have business flooding in? How would it feel to have customers asking you to name the price?
The Apollo Method for Market Dominance
The Apollo Method for Market Dominance happens in four major phases.
Phase #1 Launch: The first phase is all about deciding on and publicly declaring what you want to stand for. You launch yourself into the marketplace with a unique and prescriptive point of view on a common, critical, urgent market problem and a unique results-oriented solution.
Phase #2 Ignite: The second phase is all about building momentum. You build support among powerbrokers and continuously fuel movement around your point of view and solution. This is where you start to convert visionary early customers into helping you refine and prove your concept.
Phase #3 Navigate: The third phase is where you walk your talk and guide your early adopters along the journey. You deliver your promises to the market place and thrill customers with powerful results they’re willing to pay for. You also put the infrastructure and processes in place to lower your overheads and gain efficiencies.
Phase #4 Accelerate: The fourth and final phase is all about picking up speed to further cement your growth and stay far ahead of the pack as me-too copycats will inevitably emerge. You watch your back, you monitor changing conditions ahead and continuously innovate and adapt.
The key is not to do one, two or three, but all four phases in order to achieve a sustainable Go-To brand, even in the most crowded markets.
- Without having any specifics (just yet), write out what it would be like to declare your own moonshot to the marketplace, generate all kinds of excitement and support in the market for your solution.
- For the Go-To in your sector, write a short blurb on how they’ve gone through the four phases.
Getting Started: Phase #1 Launch
The primary objective of launch is to figure out and declare what you want to be the Go-To for. You must determine the problem you intended to own in a particular market, formulate a unique solution and publicly declare intellectual and execution ownership for that problem.
- Why there’s a problem
- What needs to be done
- How you’ve uniquely solved that problem
Gaining Momentum: Phase #2 Ignite
The primary objective of ignite is to start a movement around your solution. You’ll do this by positioning yourself as a trusted player and becoming closely associated with your theme.
- This theme is centered on a common, critical and urgent business problem most companies in your target sector are facing.
- You’re going to frame it in a provocative and counterintuitive manner to attract attention and rise above the noise.
- You’re going to be completely consistent, pounding that same theme over and over again. Every communication message you craft will revolve around the theme.
Walking the Talk: Phase #3 Navigate
The primary objective of navigate is to deliver on your promises and leave your customers so thrilled that they’re willing to pay handsomely for the end results.
- Start with visionary customers who ‘get’ it.
- You get your solution out there and deliver meaningful impact. Meanwhile, you also seek to improve efficiency and drive costs down.
- You develop a carefully curated and prioritized list of target accounts or micro magnets.
- You focus your proactive sales and marketing efforts on that list.
- You cement your position as a market leader through a ‘community of believers’ who become advocates for your brand.
Don’t get lost in the weeds. The objective is to help customers navigate their way to such a valuable outcome they’re willing to pay a premium.
Staying Ahead: Phase #4 Accelerate
The primary objective of acceleration is to refresh your vision and pick up speed to stay ahead of the competition and copycats. You’re operating in constantly changing conditions and therefore you must maintain a healthy paranoia at all times. No matter how firmly you’ve established yourself, the market will inevitably fall with Me-Toos.
Jeff Bezos put it best when he first shared his Day 1 philosophy. His belief is a company should always operate as if it’s the first day:
“Day 2 is status. Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating painful decline. Followed by death. And that is why it’s always Day 1… An established company might harvest Day 2 for decades, but the final result would still come.”
More recently, he added to this concept:
“The outside world can push you into Day 2 if you won’t or can’t embrace powerful trends quickly. If you fight them, you’re probably fighting the future. Embrace them and you have a tailwind.”
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