The most interesting people and businesses in the world are different in some way. They do things that other people don’t do. There is something about them or what they do that is different and people are drawn to them. They did not take the conventional route that grade school, high school and college encouraged them to take. They blazed new paths where there was no path. Even though their product may be very similar or even exactly the same as others, they do things different and that is why customers love them. They take their followers to new places – places they have never been before. This creates excitement, buzz and loyalty. Once again, Zappos is a great example of this. The guy who started Zappos decided to sell shoes online just like thousands of other companies – but knew he needed to lead his customers to a new place. A place they have never been – either online or in a real shoe store. He did this by blazing a brand new path. A path that’s impossible to even picture until someone else creates it.
Zappos is an extreme example I guess – because offering free overnight shipping (both ways) would be tough to pull off for any business – but it doesn’t have to be that extreme or that different. There are many great examples in our list of customers. Restaurants that sell pizza and BBQ for instance. Restaurants that are becoming institutions like Joe’s Real BBQ in Gilbert AZ or Pi Pizzeria in St. Louis. Thousands of places sell pizza and BBQ, but these businesses are leading their customers somewhere new. They are doing what they as creative, unique individuals are passionate about and creating a place people want to be often. They also likely ignore what their competition is doing – in fact I bet in their mind they don’t even have any competition. Even though they sell BBQ – no one can copy them. No one can do what they do. No one can take people to the same place – even if they sell a similar product at a lower price. People will pay more for Joe’s BBQ and go way out of their way to get it. Someone could likely work really hard to make the exact same BBQ, but could never pull off the delivery and the experience like Joe.
So maybe you don’t even need to invent something new – or be the pioneers in your industry. You just need to deliver your product or service to people in a way they’ve never been offered it before. Take them somewhere new, someplace they want to return to again and again.