What Business Are You In?
A friend and colleagues runs a gym. And, at the moment, his landlord is making things a little difficult for him. My friend is looking around for alternative sites and even considering buying rather than leasing a new premise.
From the outside and through the lens of ideas marketing I can see some possible ways to resolve the situation. And, it all revolves around this most fundamental of business questions:
What business are you in?
What are you selling?
In his best selling book Start With Why, Simon Sinek shares the example of Apple and Dell in producing MP3 players. We’ve probably all heard of the iPod and many of us, including me, have owned one. However, can you name the Dell MP3 player?
I didn’t think so. And, that’s precisely the point of this story. Apple produced a world-beating device that captured two-thirds of the total market and the Dell device disappeared discretely into cyberspace – or where ever failed products finish up.
Below: My favourite Apple iPod ad – notice there are only 4 words in the entire ad and none of them mention product specifications. And, Apple only show their logo.
What are you really selling?
There are a number of reasons for this relative success and failure. And, Sinek points to something very interesting as his number one:
Dell is a computer company and they don’t make MP3 players.
You’re probably jumping up and down right now and saying that Apple is a computer company too. And you’re partly right. Yes, they design and build computers. The big difference as Sinek points to is how they sell them. Dell market and sell computers as computers. Whereas Apple market and sell what you can do with them.
You might be thinking this is mere spin. It partly is. However the result is very different. The market accepted Apple’s non-computer device and they rejected Dell’s.
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What business are you really in?
In his book Grow, Jim Stengel surveyed a host of super-successful companies and concluded that the best of the best all sell one thing: an ideal or an aspiration. It’s a focus on improving people’s lives through connecting to a fundamental human emotion. And, it’s perhaps no surprise to know that Apple is included in Stengel’s list of top companies and Dell is not.
This focus on the ideal and the human emotion is the fundamental building block of Ideas Marketing. And, it’s the key to solving the dilemma of my friend with a gym.
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What is a Gym?
Let’s start at the basic question: What is a gym?
Most of us will agree it’s a place to exercise in. It might have lots of weights, hold exercise classes or be filled with treadmills and stationary bicycles. Inside this definition, we’re acting as if we are Dell – directly building the thing we want to sell.
What is the ideal for a Gym?
To contrast this, how would we define a gym through the lens of Ideas Marketing? To do this we need to reverse engineer what a gym provides. And, the answer or ideal would be something along the lines of energy, health, fitness, vitality and wellbeing.
In this context, a gym as a venue and building filled with fitness equipment would simply be one expression of that ideal.
And, this provides an alternate set up of opportunities for my colleague. For example, if he were to close his physical space for a short or a long time he could continue to build his brand and his business by:
- Building a virtual community online to forward fitness and health.
- Creating and selling products to help people boost their energy and wellbeing. This could range from food to barbells, pedometers and training diaries.
- Running training programs and workshops to educate people about their health, food and exercise.
How to Re-invent your Business
This all points to how most of us can quickly and easily re-invent our business:
Chunk up and focus on your ideal.
Through the definition and focus on our ideal, we can all quickly find different expressions of it as market opportunities. And, if we continue to build the brand story in line with the brand ideal then our customers would probably enjoy the extension or shift in our offer.
COMMENT: What’s the ideal for your business? And, how can you use this to re-invent your business and take advantage of fresh opportunities?