Every once in a while a book comes along that resonates deeply and embeds itself in your mind. You see examples of its message everywhere. You have to fight the urge to quote it. You can’t stop yourself from giving friends, your spouse and even innocent bystanders lengthy explanations of the key ideas . Pity those souls who have no interest in marketing or business!
Such is the book entitled Different, Escaping the Competitive Herd by Youngme Moon. So different is this book that it has become a true stand-out in the competitive herd of business literature.
Before you rush out and buy it, take heed – it’s not a business How-To manual. There are no bullet points to takeaway to apply to your own ventures. You might even have a hard time understanding it – I certainly did the first time I read it and I have a degree in marketing! The book came strongly recommended by a mentor whose opinion I value so I gave it a second look. That’s when the core message truly revealed itself to me.
What you’ll find in this book is a critical look at marketing today. More than one or two industries come under fire. That’s Part One. Part Two applauds companies that have changed the marketing business model and are succeeding. The third and final part is a reflection by the author on her reasons for writing the book. She’s a professor at the Harvard Business School but that doesn’t mean she walks the walk. She freely admits to non-conformity in her ideas for how we should market to the world.
I’m in the process of dissecting this book for a third time. I’m terrified that my background in marketing is too deeply ingrained. I fear that if I had the (financial) resources I would steer my business in exactly the same direction as the more successful brands.
I wonder if the things I see as being unique about my messenger bags for children are real to the customers whom I hope to sell to? Do these things even matter to my target market? Or have I fallen into the trap of trying to push what I want to sell rather than what my customers want?
Are you guilty of this too? Look around with a critical eye at your competitors. Is your product really that different from any of theirs? In the attributes that consumers really care about? Or are you just splitting hairs?
Professor Moon might argue that my customers don’t even know what they want and it’s up to me to tell them. That’s what I mean about this book being different. In one chapter she actually suggests that focus groups and market research results should be ignored … You really have to read this book if that shocks you.
Watch the trailer above for a little taste.
If you feel like you’re stuck in a rut, fighting a losing battle, going nowhere fast with your business and need a fresh pair of eyes on it then this is your book. I would love to hear from others who have read it to hear their take.