For business success, a core strategy should energize a business to be distinctive from all other companies regardless of the industry. Small business owners commonly cite customer service, low costs, high quality, and longevity as the keys to company distinctiveness. The assumption is that competitors do not provide what are common standards in business. To be distinctive is to set the business apart from competitors in a way that stands out rather than simply conforms to industry standards and expectations.
A business that provides an uncommon experience is said to be distinctive. For example:
- An OBGYN from Forest Hills, New York designed his office to look like a patient was visiting a Tuscany villa rather than a medical office. He included a wide-screen plasma TV that played DVDs of interest to women to occupy them while they waited.
- Barbara Corcoran, founder of the Corcoran Group, instituted new approaches to showing hard to sell apartments using auction strategies. In addition, Barbara used media to provide factual information about the real estate market that reporters wanted and no one supplied. This novel approach made The Corcoran Group a household name in NYC.
To make a business distinctive, it must shift the paradigm that currently exists in the market and is common among chief competitors. How it is accomplished is by understanding your business model.
A business generally may have more than one line of business or area that generates revenue. Each line of business has a business model. The business model has three sides or views. The first side is the emotional, the second is the financial, and the third is the rational. Each view has six components and provides a snap shot of your business.
The components of the rational view are 1) purpose, 2) potential, 3) prospect, 4) process, 5) product, and 6) positioning. To be distinctive, simply look at a few points of the model and choose what your business does differently than your competitor.
The central prerequisite is the willingness to bring a new mindset. A few critical things in any or each of these areas can separate a business from its competitors in uncommon ways that change the experience of the customer as well as the paradigm an industry is known by. The following case history demonstrates this point.
A case study in marketing a medical practice
The HMO industry was struggling with how to meet the medical needs of senior citizens on Long Island. By 2000, the majority of the HMOs discontinued their senior programs citing large economic losses as the primary reason. Yet one jumped in.
Touchstone, the company that jumped in, chose to take a different approach to how Medicare patients should be served. They went to a few doctors who had a passion for treating senior citizens. Together the small base of doctors and Touchstone carved out a way to meet the needs of their senior citizens while adequately paying physicians for services rendered.
Touchstone's distinctiveness lies in working with a core few physicians who identified what was most important and the physicians help create a unique reimbursement arrangement that no other HMO was able to provide. The physicians are paid far higher than market standards allowing them to offer more to their senior patients.
Internally many of their processes, procedures, technology, and people skills are the same as their HMO competitors. What changed was the perception of how Medicare programs should be executed by an HMO and the willingness of their leadership to take risks. Partnering with physicians to design a balanced program that met the medical needs of senior citizens on Long Island was new. Their competitors implemented a Medicare program into an existing business model designed to support employers. It not only failed but considerable sums of money were lost.
Distinctiveness transforms a mediocre business into a star company and is the key to a company's ability to double or triple its growth in the face of more established competitors. Distinctiveness sets the company apart in the minds of customers and the experience they enjoy. Distinctiveness brings new approaches and better ways to do things that solve or exceed consumer, market, and industry expectations.
This article is based upon Krisalis System featured by the Maestro Business Academy Located in New York City and Long Island. Ester Horowitz 516 409-0849
Medical communications services by the Medical Resource Group provide writing, editing and video production for medical marketing to physicians and patient demographics.