So recently I have been getting a kick out of the current TV ads for Office Depot. What I noticed after seeing them a few times was how similar they were to Staples ads.
Watch the Office Depot ad:
Does Depot Time seem vaguely familiar to That Was Easy and the Easy Button? Watch a Staples ad to refresh you memory.
Now one of the things I noticed was Office Depot is coming on strong lately. They have been trying to up the ante so to speak, at least in the Fort Worth marketplace. After reviewing their rank on the Fortune 500 I may know why. Although I felt Office Depot was half the company that Staples was (my on personal opinion), reviewing the numbers tells me why. Office Depot is really half the business in sales volume, but only doing 4% of Staples profit margins.
So realizing that stepping up the marketing for Office Depot was a good move, the way they did it may not be the best move. The goal when building a brand and positioning yourself in the marketplace is to set yourself apart at all costs. You do not want to be a me too company because you will only get the table scraps of the big dog you are following.
It is more important to create a unique marketplace. Look for areas where you can do better than the leader. This is a tough road for a few reasons:
The benefits however are well worth the effort. If you create this marketplace, you pretty much own it. By the time people figure it out, you will be so far ahead that very few will be able to compete. Look at Starbucks. They recreated the coffee marketplace. Who would have though so many people would pay so much for a coffee. As a matter of fact who would have thought an old product like coffee would become cool and bring on a new coffee drinking audience? Honestly my wife grew up on coffee, but I really had no interest. If it weren't for tons of businesses meetings in the early 2000's I doubt my wife alone would have turned me into a coffee drinker.
My point is this, don't follow the big dogs. Create your own marketplace and stick with it through thick and thin. I'm sure many people told Starbucks they were crazy to think people would pay $4 for a single cup of coffee or $9 for a bag of coffee. But they stuck with it and now have very few competitors. They have a huge portion of the marketshare and are doing great.
Me too companies are a dime a dozen. What are you doing to set yourself apart from the competition? When was the last time you created something that was previously unknown? If you don't know or have never done this, maybe now is the time - Depot Time!