Becoming a Category of One

Summary Written by Aisha DaCosta
"Nothing of substance will take place without commitment."

- Becoming a Category of One, page 12

The Big Idea

Beware of Business Atrophy: Success is a moving target

"There’s really no such thing as holding your position. You’re either gaining ground or losing ground."- Becoming a Category of One, page 18

Every investment guide has the same disclaimer: “past performance is no guarantee of future performance”. According to the author, the same is true for business; past success means that you know what worked yesterday. “Success is a moving target that causes a very positive version of permanent dissatisfaction. It is a form of dissatisfaction that feels good because you are driven by the fuel of knowing you can do better.” The author encourages you to create a sense of urgency every day in every thing that you do so that you can guard against complacency.

Regardless what industry you are in the marketplace has become dynamic and competitors are no longer confined to domestic borders. When change is occurring outside of your business at a rapid pace you must innovate and redefine your market share on a continuous basis in order to survive. Business owners must ask themselves, “am I willing to commit to do what it takes to be extraordinary?”

Insight #1

See your company through the eyes of your customers

"You must change the customer’s basis of comparison…defy comparison…by creating a difference with customers through their experience of what it’s like to do business with you."- Becoming a Category of One, pages 78-79

Did you see Jay-Z’s Samsung commercial for his new album, Magna Carta Holy Grail? The commercial offers an inside peek into the creative process behind the upcoming album. In the studio room with him are producers Rick Rubin, Swizz Beats, Timberland and artist Pharrell Williams. In the beginning of the ad Jay-Z explains that the album is about the duality of how you navigate your way through success and failures while managing to remain yourself. He goes on to declare that “the Internet is like the Wild West; there are no rules and everyone is trying to figure it out.” Jay-Z then tells the room of musicians, “We need to write the new rules”. And that is exactly what Jay-Z is doing. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, Samsung purchased 1 million copies of Jay-Z’s new album for $5 and plans to give them to Samsung Galaxy owners for free 72 hours prior to the album release.

In a world where all smart phones do amazing things and all musicians produce quality music that their fans adore, you have to “find points of genuine differentiation…beyond the expected factors of price, quality, and service” if your intent is to endure. When Samsung, the number two smartphone market leader teamed up with Hip-Hop’s second wealthiest music mogul, Jay-Z, they began creating new rules in the marketplace and found a way to transcend being a commodity by creating a new customer experience. Google Play offers the app for Jay-Z’s new album, which is exclusively for Samsung Galaxy S 4, Galaxy S III, Galaxy Note II users. The app contains the new album and never before seen footage on the inspiration behind the album’s tracks. Talk about a dynamic customer experience!

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Insight #2

Your Story: Give them something they can feel

"Your story is a simple, inspirational statement that galvanizes and unifies resources and that maximizes employee and customer engagement."- Becoming a Category of One, page 28

Why you and not them? That is the question that every customer poses to the business owner. Why should I do business with you? Your answer to that question has to resonate with the customer, provide value by addressing their needs, and be emotionally compelling. “The single most powerful sales tool is…to know more about the customer going in.” The experience that you create with customers when you do business with them is a new competitive factor that goes beyond price and quality.

What do you anchor this experience to? The answer is your core values and the driving purpose behind your business. Blake Mycoskie incorporated philanthropy into his business and established the One for One global movement behind TOMS shoes that drove his brand to incredible heights. He understood his customer and delivered something they could emotionally connect to. How do you translate your product or service into something that is compelling?

Category of One businesses do the following things flawlessly:

1. Create value by solving problems or creating opportunities.
2. Deliver a compelling consumer experience through creativity and consistency.
3. Pay attention to customer needs.

Joe Calloway refocuses the business owner’s thought process by outlining action steps that one can take to boil down their brand’s message to something simple and emotionally compelling. He offers viable case studies of businesses that have clearly drawn their own mark in the sand. Deliberate action that is customer focused is the key to becoming a Category of One company.

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Joe Calloway

Joe Calloway is a performance coach and advisor who helps great companies get even better. He helps organizations focus on what is truly important, inspires constant improvement, and motivates people to immediate action. Joe has been a business author, coach, and speaker for 30 years and his client list reads like an international Who’s Who in business, ranging from companies like Coca Cola and IBM to Saks Fifth Avenue and American Express. Joe is the author of the new book Be the Best at What Matters Most and four other ground-breaking business books including Becoming A Category of One: How Extraordinary Companies Transcend Commodity And Defy Comparison, which received rave reviews from The New York Times, Retailing Today, Publishers Weekly and many others.

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