Would You Buy Your Own Product?
A client turned to me one day and shared, “Our company is facing headwinds that could shut us down. I’d like to invite you and our leadership team to have a conversation about it.”
We had an open discussion of their challenges. The VP of Sales voiced his opinion. “We know what’s important to the industry: low price and on-time delivery; we’re struggling with both.” The VP of Engineering said, “We do nothing unique, nothing anyone else doesn’t do.” Then the Manufacturing Leader added, “Our quality has been poor, morale is low, we have a lot of problems.”
After 30 minutes of this not-so-uplifting discussion, I chimed in, “Based on what I’ve heard so far, not one of you would buy your own product.” After moments of dead silence, the CEO spoke up. “You know, that’s a really intriguing observation…”
The opinions shared by this client’s leaders are not unheard of. It’s a common theme from companies. There is great temptation to diminish what you do, assuming your problems are unique and most likely worse than the competition. But usually, they are not. It’s a cycle that wears you down, eventually eroding quality and morale. But there is good news. Almost every brand can recover from this when they begin their journey to discover what makes them unique.
Merriam-Webster defines a commodity as:
com·mod·i·ty | \ kə-ˈmä-də-tē
A good or service whose wide availability typically leads to smaller profit margins and diminishes the importance of factors (such as brand name) other than price.
The above definition is depressing. It’s our responsibility as leaders to forbid this message from becoming our mantra. Fight that battle. The opposite of a commodity is a brand with differentiation.
Bombardier Recreational Products dealers show their Can-Am pride at a training program where they experience firsthand the product’s value and uniqueness.
Let’s change the definition into something inspiring:
A good or service that has unique characteristics, processes and products that set it apart from competitors, resulting in healthy profit margins, strong market share, a proud workforce and a powerful brand, enabling it to be in demand, purchased on its value and not on price alone.
What’s beautiful about valuing your uniqueness is that it will not only result in increased sales and market share, but will also inspire your employees to produce higher-quality products and services. Your company will have higher retention and your employees will become magnets, drawing others to join the team.
Teams that are inspired by their brand’s differentiation, like these CR Mining employees, are an unstoppable force.
It’s time to believe in what you produce and represent. Celebrate it with your employees, customers and communities. And yes, you should not only be willing to buy your product, but also be proud to!
Barry LaBov is founder and CEO of LABOV Marketing Communications and Training. He is a two-time Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year recipient and author of numerous business books, including the upcoming book The Power of Differentiation. Since 1981, LABOV has differentiated and launched products and brands around the world.