Here’s a thought: If we want to increase our success, why don’t we stop concentrating on what our products or services do and start focusing on what they do for our customers?
In other words, what if we stop emphasizing our function and start promoting the results of that function?
I’m not talking about doing something as hackneyed as selling the sizzle instead of the steak. I’m talking about understanding that in today’s new reality of computerization, automation, and democratized communication, what you do — and how well you do it — is becoming less and less important. That’s because what you do is becoming more and more generic.
What sets you apart, simple as it may sound, is you.
You are the reason your customers come to you, you are the reason your clients hire you, and you are the reason your followers follow you.
All cars get their passengers from point A to point B.
All refrigerators keep food cold.
All running shoes cushion your feet from the road.
Why do we choose one brand instead of another?
Remember the story from The Wizard of Oz? Dorothy is unhappy in Kansas, bumps her head, and wakes up in Munchkinland. After Dorothy is saluted as a hero for knocking off the Wicked Witch, she and Toto set off down the Yellow Brick Road. Eventually, they’re joined by the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion.
Soon they get to the Emerald City where they’re planning to meet the Wonderful Wizard of Oz and ask him for the things they need: brains for the Scarecrow, a heart for the Tin Man, courage for the Cowardly Lion, and a one-way ticket back to Kansas for Dorothy and Toto.
But before he’ll grant their wishes, the Wizard sends them off to fight his archenemy, The Wicked Witch of the West who is protected by a phalanx of spellbound soldiers and terrifying flying monkeys. Eventually, Dorothy and her crew defeat the Wicked Witch (“I’m melting, I’m melting”) and free the soldiers from their hex. When they return to the Emerald City they find that the Wizard is a phony (“Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain”). And even though the Wizard gives Dorothy’s companions what they need—a heart-shaped clock for the Tin Man, a diploma for the Scarecrow, and a medal for the Cowardly Lion—he has no way to get Dorothy and her little dog home.
That’s when Glinda the Good Witch appears and tells Dorothy she’s had what she’s required within her all along: Dorothy need only click her heels together and repeat, “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home.”
Learning this, Dorothy says goodbye to her pals, clicks her heels, and is magically transported back to Kansas where she awakes from her dream.
But wait just a damn minute. Back up to the scene where Glinda tells Dorothy how she can get home. If I were Dorothy, I’d be furious: “WTF??!! I had it in me all the time? Then why the hell did I have to travel across this God-forsaken country with these three freaks, fight lions and tigers and bears (oh my), get attacked by man-eating trees, nearly OD on hallucinogenic poppy fumes, get chased by a platoon of freaking flying monkeys, kill two witches for Pete’s sake, and then come all the way back here—when I had it with me all along? And you’re supposed to be the GOOD witch? What kind of crap is that?”
It’s the same with your business and your brand. Yes, you’ve surrounded yourself with all the trappings of success. But what your clients buy is you.
You are the competitive advantage.
You are the X-factor.
You are the unique selling proposition.
You are the secret sauce.
You are the value-add.
Or as Glinda put it: “You’ve always had the power, my dear. You’ve had it all along.”