Differentiate or Die

At a roundtable in the wide-open Cascades restaurant of Opryland, with the waterfalls running in the background and light coming through the windows in the ceiling, my friend Bedros Keuilian and I ran a small Mastermind group.

One of the small business owners who joined us was a passionate, young fitness expert who owned a training facility north of Nashville.

His unique workout system was being implemented by the local military training center. It was time for him to bring this to the world, but he struggled with a name.

A name can be important. It CAN make or break a business.

A good name can make your marketing easier. A great name can make your marketing a slam dunk. Consider the name of the show, “The Biggest Loser.” That’s a big idea and great description of the show in three words.

And once you identify the phrase or key word, you need to take ownership
of that word.

Recently in one of Verne Harnish’s “Gazelles” reports (it’s a free newsletter
that I highly recommend), he talked about the benefits of “owning a word.”

In the newsletter Harnish described a company that was taking ownership
of the word, “Likeable,” in their marketing.

As Harnish said, “[this company] has latched onto a concept and has written extensively on the topic – books, blogs, articles, etc. What is/are the word(s) you need to own in the mind of your best target customers (the first strategic decision you need to make) – and then hire a journalist or videographer to help you start ‘owning the ink and images’ around those words.”

So back to our Nashville trainer…

As I sat there for several hours, I had a chance to stare at his training program. I flipped through it at lunch and on breaks and finally found “the word.”

When I brought it up to the group, there was a general consensus that the word described his system, was well known enough in the fitness industry to “mean something” (even to the general population), and that it was something that no one else had taken ownership of.

My idea was a WINNER.

You see, you don’t have to invent a new word. Other people can know about and even commonly use the word that you choose to own.

When you take ownership of a word and support it with a Big Idea, then you’re in business. It allows you to fill a gap in the marketplace and mark your territory.

You can become the “Go To” expert whenever anyone thinks of that word – after all, you “own it.” Let’s look at a couple of examples.

Mike Whitfield, who you have heard me talk about many times, has taken ownership of the phrase, “Workout Finishers“.

It set Mike apart and made it easy for him to be promoted by others.

Of course, Mike didn’t invent the phrase, but he ran with it and took ownership of it. Tosca Reno did the same thing with Clean Eating. Everyone knew that phrase, but she decided to own it and has now sold millions of copies of her books thanks to her ownership.

At ETR, we plan to take ownership of the phrase, “Transformation Contest,” in 2013 with our $100,000 90-Day Transformation Contest giveaway.

Sure, Bill Phillips owned it in the ’90s, but it’s somewhat disappeared from the lexicon. We’re planning to resurrect it in a unique way, one that no one else will be able to compete with.

We want ETR to become the go-to website and brand for anyone that wants to transform their life in any way. So figure out what piece of the massive pie you can own, and then do it.

Owning it means talking about it constantly. Matt Smith refers to this as playing your, “Back in Black.”

If you don’t know, “Back in Black” is a song made famous a few decades ago by the rock band AC/DC. However, even when someone goes to their concerts today (and they still tour), the fans want to hear “Back in Black.”

It’s what they are known for. You need to own a word and become known for that hit idea.

Differentiate or Die,” Jack Trout and Al Ries said over 25 years ago.

Differentiate or Die is a classic marketing book that is decades old, and Ihope you’ve taken the time to read it. It won’t take you but an hour, and the lessons are still valid after all these years.

A relatively simple way to differentiate or die is to take ownership of a word or phrase, one that might even already exist in your industry.

Do this and your business will become known as the “go-to” person in your industry for that term. If it’s an area that you are passionate about, and you’re willing to invest your future in, then go for it.

Take ownership of that niche market.

Make it your “Back in Black,” the message that people expect – and want – to hear from you when you make a video, give a seminar, or release a new product.

By the way, Bedros just put up a great article on a similar topic with a slightly different – and still killer – message on:

The Big Thing You Need in Your Business <= check his example & pics

Go forth and differentiate,

Craig Ballantyne

PS – If you want me to come up with a breakthrough WINNING idea for you…

…and your business, then you need to attend the 1-day Mastermind meeting
with Bedros and I.

Looks like Miami is sold-out, but there are still 4 spots left for San Francisco.

Email Frankie@Keuilian.com to reserve your spot on the phone with Bedros to see if it’s a good fit for you.