Beyond good enough...

My apologies for the silence. I was in the "get busy living" mode.

Anyway, my last two posts on this subject tried looking at the two sides of the fence. From an old school marketing perspective, one can say that good enough products are intended for the lower end of the customer segment in the western as well as emerging markets.

However, with that definition it is hard to visualize where does cheap chic fit in? Are the people shopping at IKEA just the lower / middle income groups? What about at Costco / Target / Kohls? Is an average Apple customer a very affluent person?

The point is that customer segments specifically from a price point are blurring, & that is diminishing the saleability of mediocre products. The sales number may not indicate that, but in the mind of the consumer, some of today's market leaders are loosing a battle.

McDonald's decision to eliminate trans fatty acids, Microsoft's change in life cycle policy to support XP till 2014 & shopping experience between Target & Walmart are all indicative of a more aware & assertive consumer. what does a business do? How do we get out of the mediocrity & into a segment where our business / product / services are beyond "good enough"?

I am not a marketing / strategy guru & some of this may sound fairly cliched, but it is surprising how few organizations have internalized it. Here is my "Do or Die" list...

1. "Design Or Die" for the user
Not for the press, not for the marketing guys, not for anyone else but for your user. Products, Services or whatever in between you have...make sure that "it just works" for the user, otherwise do us all & the environment a great favor & go out of business.

2. Differentiate Or Die
Read about the DHL layoffs...In a UPS / FEDEX world, I never did figure out what was DHL's unique selling proposition. They may be a little cheaper, but price is rarely a strategic differentiator. So, unless your cow is purple, "yer business is a knockin the pearly gates anytime".

3. Innovate Or Die
So you are in an economy that is not doing well & not sure what to do. Well, figure out a way to offer cheaper day care, help someone improve or enrich what they are trying to do...Innovate a service or a product to ride the price sensitive wave. For a while, price may be a pretty good tactical advantage. ;-). Unless you want a Chinese manufacturer to eat your lunch, Innovate, Patent, Sell & Repeat.

4. Passionate Or Die
In the "Only the paranoid survive" spirit, I think we all need to realize how easily replaceable our products & services have become. The truth is that more than ever, we all need to be passionate about what we do, & offer a zest & zeal that is not easily replicable, or be ready to get Outsourced.

I will end my thoughts here for now. Most of this is really what I have understood from reading Seth Godin, Malcolm Gladwell, the Heath brothers & a lot of other thought provoking authors.