Monday, December 5, 2011

Stop following the herd!

Posted on Monday, December 05, 2011 by International Coach Federation

If you have you ever gone furniture shopping, you will relate to this story. My husband and I were in need of a new bedroom set. So, one day, we set out going from one furniture store to another, searching for that “perfect” bedroom set. After five hours of going from store to store, we finally found the “one” but because it was more than what we had budgeted, we decided we would go home and sleep on the decision.The next morning, we awoke to discover that we BOTH had forgotten which store we had found that one particular bedroom set that we both loved (and no, we did not write it down…as that would have been the smart thing to do!).

WHY could we not remember which store it was? Because most furniture stores look and “act” alike. They carry similar furniture, most (if not, all) finance your purchases with their credit departments, they have delivery and set up options and sales people that follow you around like puppy dogs. They all follow the same play book. That was until IKEA came along. IKEA looked at what all the other furniture stores were doing and then...did the OPPOSITE. IKEA carries very distinctive low quality, low cost, Scandinavian furniture. As other furniture stores try and sell you on the longevity of their furniture, IKEA sells you on the fact that it won’t last long which allows you can “change your furniture look” often.

As you walk around the IKEA, you write down the aisle and bin numbers of your products and then venture into their warehouse where, you, not a salesperson, retrieve your furniture parts. Yes...I said parts. Then, what about set-up, you ask? Not at IKEA. You take home tons of boxes, unwrap everything yourself and then put it together, piece by piece, following their so called “directions.” And as far as salespeople, well, let me know when you find one of those too! But what they do have is babysitting for your children and a gourmet fast food restaurant for customers with picky taste buds. The experience starts the moment you walk into the store. And today, they are one of the most highly successful and profitable furniture brands out there, with millions of LOYAL customers (I am actually one of them!). Why? They broke the mold and gave customers what they truly wanted (which is not necessarily what customers always tell you they want!).

So the lesson…Be different…be very different. In some shape or form…

Just be Different.

You can differentiate via price, features, services, niche market, and/or customer service, to name a few. To be successful, you must distinguish yourself from the herd. Find your differentiator (I call it your black jellybean – people either love them or hate them and they do not appeal to everyone (that’s ok!) but they always stand out from the other jellybeans). GO FOR IT!

Gail Nataupsky founded The Republic of Engagement in 2011 with the clear and passionate vision of improving the lives and experience of all business owners, employees and customers. With THE REPUBLIC Of Engagement, her attention is focused on the success of her clients as reflected in their business growth, their achievements in their personal lives and their overall happiness. As an expert in evidence-based strategic engagement, Gail teaches business owners how to solve and overcome business challenges and prosper from the opportunities. Professionally, she holds a B.A. in history from Boston College and a graduate certificate in Architecture from Harvard Graduate School of Design Currently, she is working on becoming a certified professional coach from the world renowned leader in coach training, the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (IPEC), and a certified Energy Leadership Index (ELI) Assessment and Energy Leadership Development System coach. She is a Certified Marketing Specialist, a member of the International Coach Federation (ICF) and a member of the Internet Marketing Association (IMA) Please visit her blog at or feel free to email her at  

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