An exchange between two guests on WHYY’s Radio Times caught my attention this morning. In acknowledging WalMart’s increased presence in the super market sector a guest essentially proposed that WalMart does not need to be better, they just need to be as good as their competitors.
That comment struck a deep cord with me. Many businesses model themselves on the commodity approach. If they can be as good as the name brand competitor but offer the product at a lower price or with some attached feature then they get the sale. They win.
It reminds me of the philosophy proposed in Seth Godin’s book, The Dip. If you do not create a deep enough dip between your product and service then there is no barrier to slow your competitors from matching your features. Products are easy to replicate in this global marketplace so suddenly we are left with a few variables. Personalized service, an emotional connection, a belief in the organization’s purpose, a desire to make a statement, an individualized experience. When we analyze what distinguishes us from our competitors there is very little on the commodity side. It is usually the intangibles that tip the scale in our favor.
Philanthropically minded individuals who has submitted an organizational grant request to a foundation that seems perfectly aligned to fund one’s cause can often be disappointed to see they were passed-over for a less obvious choice. Many times the personal relationships between the foundation and the successful grantee are the golden key that provided success.
What features and benefits provide your cause with the greatest return on investment. It may be the intangible items that are the hardest to measure.