More signal, less noise: the quest for differentiation

For the next few weeks, a restored Abbaye in the Dordogne is acting as temporary HQ for the Riot Point.

We are bringing certain projects to a close, and commencing others.  Constant renewal based on past successes (and tolerated failures) is a constant theme, all fuelled, of course, by a motivation to provide value to others and while receiving improvements in self.

And we’re making progress. The beams emanating from the library in the photo above reflect the brilliance of some of the new material!

At this location, the medieval and the modern blend perfectly. The thick walls and high ceilings prevent the need for air conditioning, despite temperatures of > 30°C, while access to the latest communication technologies allow us to participate fully in all aspects of modern business.

Well not quite.

As with the Italians in design, so with the French with infrastructure. They do it perfectly. Almost.

The population of the village is around 400 and the location relatively remote. However, this being France, fibre-optic cable has been put in place at the Mairie, whose employees enjoy download speeds of 100 Mbps. However, this being France, politics around budgets have prevented full deployment within the village, so we move abruptly from thick glass to skinny, skinny twisted-pair copper very quickly. As a result, I’m enjoying download speeds of 2Mbps, and upload speeds of 0.05 Mbps.  Acceptable for email, but Skype and multi-media files are a no-go.

The local telecom engineer tells me that my connection will never improve until the copper wires are replaced. The current method has too much noise and not enough signal.

And so with our businesses. 

Products choices are so amorphous and managers are too timid to make their offers stand out. You can’t be in the pack and be noticed. You have to be one or the other. But if you’re going to stand out from the crowd, you need to look good standing there. 

Getting there need not be expensive and doesn't need a culture of arrogant self-importance. 

You will need though an understanding of why customers buy from you (and your competitors), and the confidence to experiment with a range of responses on your ‘road to differentiation’.

Yet, even this is not a minor issue. We spend much time and resource recording how much we sell, to which segment, at what price, and when. This is tangible and easy—which is why, in part, we do it. We spend far less time addressing the ‘why’ question. It is messy and may lack coherence. Yet its answer is the route to offer distinctive brands—and better margins. 

Where would your customers place your business?

Simon Luntbranding, strategyComment