The Art of War

The Art of War is a is one of the most famous books of all time, said to be written by the legendary Chinese general Sun Tzu around the fifth century B.C.

The advice is war focused and out of date (for instance, what generals should do when confronted wit h different types of terrain). But a lot of it is applicable to leadership and management today despite being thousands of years old. If you are unaware of the Art of War I would highly recommend getting your hands on a copy of the book and try relating how the information provided within can and will transfer and hold true in today’s business environment .

To get you started take a look at this quick overview of the art of war

Two Methods To Guarantee Your Business Succeeds

different

With all the buzzwords surrounding the retail environment these days, it’s important not to lose focus on the basic business rule of how is your business better or different? Such terms as augmented reality, Omni- Channel, brick and click, dynamic clustering and more…. all describe ways to run a business and can’t be ignored, but don’t put the horse before the cart, remember to constantly ask yourself how is my business better or different?

If I go back in time I can remember my marketing lecturer preaching that the golden rule to success in business is in identifying how your offer is better or different to your competitor? I think this question stands true today, and perhaps gets lost in today’s ever-changing retail environment.

Take the time to truly step back and forget about Omni-Channel, social commerce and yes even webrooming, webrooming by the way is described as the practice of looking online before buying products in a brick and mortar store (who knew). Ask yourself how is your business better or different, this will force you to look at your business thru your customer’s eyes, why do they or don’t they shop or use your service. What can you change to improve your offering compared to your competitors?

Let’s look at being Different:

Excluding fundamentals (everyday standards consumers expect) things like customer service, car parking, a business website etc, how is your business different?  The fundamentals as mentioned above should not be seen as being different even if your competitors are not doing them as it will be easy for them to step into this space should they decide to. To truly distinguish your offering you should look to offer something different or something that is difficult for your competitor to copy or compete on.

Take the example of Uber, Uber expertly highlights everything that is wrong about taking a traditional taxi and shows how its service is different. The copy taken from the Uber homepage, excellently conveys the simplicity and ease that lies at the heart of what makes it such a different service:

  • One tap and a car comes directly to you.
  • Your driver knows exactly where to go.
  • Payment is completely cashless.

Everything about this directly contrasts the typical experience of getting a traditional taxi, no phone calls to disinterested dispatchers, no painful discussions trying to explain to a stressed-out cabbie about where you need to go, and no scrabbling for change or worrying you’ve got enough money in your wallet. Just a fast, efficient way to get where you’re going.

Now ask yourself am I different than my competitors? If you can truly answer yes you can now extend your business offering with all the buzzword options available to you, even webrooming! If you struggled to see how you are different or maybe your business just can’t be different it’s ok you just need to look for ways to be better.

Let’s look at being better:

If it’s difficult for your type of business to distinguish yourself by being different, look for ways to be better. Again, fundamentals such as customer service, having a website or car parking available are not strong enough features to be considered being better as they are easily copied.

Take the example of Apple and the IPhone. In today’s crowded consumer phone market, it’s hard to imagine a more iconic product than the Apple iPhone. It’s also difficult to think of a phone with as much competition as the IPhone, so what sets the iPhone apart from the hundreds of competing phones on the market? Apple knows how crowded and competitive the smart device market is, so rather than focus on a specific feature – virtually none of which are unique to the iPhone, Apple instead chooses to focus on the experience and the genuinely unique features only available on the IPhone. As soon as the competition copies the IPhone, Apple will update the next model with new or unique features or experiences to stay ahead of the competition.

So, to sum up, never lose sight of what is unique about you’re offering, the further you can distance yourself from your competition the harder it will be for them to compete against you. Also, a superior offering with a point of difference has more value to the consumer and will be more appealing to your target market.  You just need to look around your industry and you will see countless example of business that fully understand and embrace the concept of being better or different, more often than not these are the successful ones.

 Thanks for reading

Leigh.

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