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Commodities, Academics, Golfers, and Stars

by Randall Craig on July 29, 2016

Filed in: Blog, Business Development, Growth, Make It Happen Tipsheet

Tagged as: , , ,

Is there a gap between how you perceive yourself, and the reality that others see? Too often, we use self-descriptive marketing terms so much that we convince ourselves of their truth. And what the the biggest culprits? Here are two: Thought Leader and Trusted Advisor.

It isn’t hard to understand why so many refer to themselves in this way: it helps the ego, helps marketing, and shines a patina of professionalism and respectability on their activities. But just because these terms are used, doesn’t make them true.

A more useful approach is to consider that each of us sits along a spectrum of thought leadership from low to high, and along a trust spectrum from low to high. Depending on where you sit within this matrix, you are either a Commodity, Golfer, Academic, or Star. Not unsurprisingly, each has its own strategy.

Commodities-Golfers-Academics-Stars

  • Commodities: Low thought leadership, and weaker trust. In this category, there is very little differentiation, and very low switching costs. Advantage can be achieved only by competing on price.
  • Golfers: Low thought leadership, but strong trust. There is nothing inherently wrong with being in this category, but eventually the relationship will wain without an increasing delivery of benefits. Advantage can be achieved by developing thought leadership.
  • Academics: High thought leadership, but trust has not yet developed. Again, nothing wrong with being exceptionally smart, but this by itself is not a sustainable competitive advantage: blink for a minute, and there is someone, somewhere, smarter than you, more up-to-date than you, or with more “followers” than you. Advantage can be achieved by building trust.
  • Stars: People in this group are simultaneously thought leaders and trusted advisors: they have it all. The chief benefit of stardom is that their market price is higher than any of the other categories. Yet stars still have their challenges: it takes time to maintain thought leadership, and it takes time to maintain trust. If stars don’t continually invest, their advantage (and their value) degrades.

This week’s action plan: Is there a gap between how you describe yourself and the reality of what you are? Do you call yourself a star, when you are really just a golfer or academic? This week, choose the quadrant you wish to be in, and take one step to get there. (Some ideas on how can be found here and here.)

Marketing insight: What is true for individuals is also true for organizations. Overall, is your organization a commodity, golfer, academic or star? The biggest marketing challenge is often the gap between management’s self-assessment, and the reality of the market. How do each of your targets see you?

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to www.RandallCraig.com to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
www.RandallCraig.com
:  Professional credentials site
www.108ideaspace.com: Web strategy, technology, and development
www.ProfessionallySpeakingTV.com
:  Interviews with the nation’s thought-leaders

About 

Randall has been advising on Web and Social Strategy since 1994 when he put the Toronto Star online, the Globe and Mail's GlobeInvestor/Globefund, several financial institutions, and about 100+ other major organizations. He is the author of seven books, including the recently released "Everything Guide to Starting an Online Business", and speaks across North America on Social Media and Web Strategy. More at randallcraig.com and 108ideaspace.com.

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