How can you be unique?

How in the world can anything be unique? When you start thinking in terms of market segments, things become clearer In a well-to-do neighborhood, there are many lawn services. How does one pick? You either pick on price or you pick the one who bothered to show up. After all, they're all the same, right? But what if ONE service also plowed snow in winter and dealt with the sprinkler system in the spring and raked the leaves in autumn. That offering would be unique—at least within the segment. Positioning would be: "We'll take care of your yard—all of it." Of course, this service wouldn't fly in a poorer neighborhood. Images Italian restaurants. Steak restaurants. Heck, ANY restaurant. Aren't they all the same? If so, we choose arbitrarily, or based on that nice waiter we had last time. But what if one was unique somehow? Pasta prepared at your table? Menus items using produce grown locally. That's unique (but perhaps not sustainable). The next restaurant could copy fairly easily—unless it broke their business model. Within that geographic market segment, this unique thing would be the differentiator. Images Here's my favorite idea: do you really want to be unique? Then FORBID children in your restaurant. There are many family-friendly restaurants but this isn't one of them. This happened with a restaurant in Washington state and the mothers went insane. They felt it was their RIGHT to annoy everyone with their damn kids. But the owner said, I don't have high-chairs or chicken fingers or a play room. I serve adult food to adults. If you don't like it, don't dine here. And adults flocked to this unique atmosphere. Conversely, what if Chuck E Cheeses changed their theme at night to a family restaurant and not just a play room? Unique is a tricky idea until you look at your capabilities within a market segment. Start looking from the market's point of view and you can ignore the competition.
Steve Johnson

Steve Johnson

Steve Johnson was a founding instructor at Pragmatic Institute, a role he held for more than 15 years before he left to start Under10 Playbook. In his return to Pragmatic Institute, Steve supports the complete learning path for product teams, ensuring they are fully armed for success. 

Over the course of his career, Steve has helped thousands of companies and tens of thousands of product professionals implement product management processes. He has worked in the high-tech arena since 1981, rising through the ranks from product manager to chief marketing officer. Steve has experience in technical, sales and marketing management positions at companies that specialize in both hardware and software. In addition, he is an author, speaker and advisor on product strategy and product management.


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