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Cooper: Does your business have a compelling story?

 22 March 2021     Donald Cooper 

Every industry and every market, including yours, is over-served and under-differentiated. There are too many other people selling what you’re selling – and that’s your biggest problem. To differentiate yourself you need a compelling value story and then you need to tell that story in a way that engages your target customers, draws them in and keeps them coming back.

Simply put, you need to be extraordinary. You need to do the work your competitors are not willing to do. One of my most important business insights is first you have to be a story and then you have to tell your story.

I’ve just found a great print ad for Glenfiddich single malt Scotch whiskey, aged in a very special way for 21 years. Imagine, in a world where most businesses are trying to turn their inventory as often as possible, these folks are hanging on to their inventory, in a dark room, for 21 years to make it better. Here’s the story they tell in this masterful ad that makes some people line up to pay $477 for a bottle of booze.

Glenfiddich 21-year-old reserve whiskey
“Patiently matured for 21 years on-site at our distillery, it is a complex, traditional Speyside whisky, rich and ripe with our Glenfiddich signature notes. But rather than bottle it, as other distillers would, we add a surprising and sublime finishing touch.

After aging, our Malt Master Brian Kinsman finishes our exquisite 21 year-old single malt in bourbon barrels that he’s seasoned with our own unique Caribbean rum. This rum, made to a secret recipe from three tropical islands, has been specifically created to imbue the barrel staves with exactly the right further flavours.

This Caribbean rum finish awakens our Scottish whisky, rousing it with extra exotic notes of ginger, fig, lime, and banana and a vibrant spicy toffee warmth, elevating it from something great to something extraordinary. Not many whisky makers would go to the trouble of creating their own rum to season the casks, but we are not most whisky makers.”

Let’s look at what they’ve done here. First, they went to extraordinary lengths to create something special. They patiently age their whisky for 21 years. Then they produce a special secret rum, just to season another set of barrels in which the whisky will receive a unique final finish. In other words, they do the work. Passionately and patiently, they do the work. Then, they tell their story brilliantly.

So, what’s your story? What work do you do that your competitors won’t? What is it that grabs your target customers, clearly differentiates you from your competitors, makes you famous – and grows your bottom line? So, what are you famous for? Mediocrity is no longer an option. Extraordinary is the new price of admission.

Then, how are you telling your extraordinary story in a way that engages your target customers, draws them in and keeps them coming back? Remember, there’s no point being the best if you’re also the best kept secret. The alternative, of course, is to be mediocre, bland, undifferentiated and, sooner or later, fade away. It’s pretty much your choice.

Set aside on hour to meet with some of the best minds and hearts in your business to discuss possibilities. Send them this article to read before the meeting as homework. Ask them to come prepared to discuss what you’re currently famous for, or what you could become famous for if you made the commitment. Then, talk about how you can tell that story in a way that grabs your target customers.

What decisions will you make and what action will you take, starting right now, to be a story and then to tell your story brilliantly? There’s no more important thing for you to do in your business than this. 

Here’s a little something else to think about:
My biz quote of the week: Is your business always playing leapfrog and taking the lead or are you always playing catch-up, trying to keep up with your competitors? What shift in thinking, what new product, service or business model, what systems, processes, technology and talent would it take to move your business from playing catch-up to leapfrogging over your competitors into market leadership and improved profitability?

Strange doggie facts. French Poodles are the most popular dog breed in Vietnam but not in France. In France, the most popular dog breed is the Australian Shepherd.  In Australia, the most popular breed is the Border Collie.

Globally, the most popular dog breed is the Rotweiller. They, along with German Shepherds, Dobermans and Cane Corsos are the most popular dogs in countries where personal safety is an issue. So, you can tell a lot about how safe a country is by which dog is their favourite.

The complete global study can be found here.

That’s it for this week. Stay safe and live brilliantly!


Stearns & Foster
Cocoon by Sealy
This HGO article was written by:
Donald Cooper
Donald Cooper

Donald Cooper has been both a world-class manufacturer and an award-winning retailer. Now, as a business speaker and coach he helps business owners and managers throughout the world to rethink, refocus and re-energize their business to create compelling customer value, clarity of purpose and long-term profitability.


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