There is no such thing as ‘better’

A golden egg in a pile of white eggs

Traditional marketing advice often includes the idea that ‘only the best product wins’. The result is a desperate focus on beating the competition: a drive to be quicker, faster, more… better.

But do people really want better? Or is all the effort you put into showing your product or offer is ‘better’ than your competitors a waste of time?

What if what people really want is ‘different’?

It’s hard to persuade someone your offer is ‘better’ when it looks the same as everyone else’s

These days, people are surrounded by choice. There are often so many options available, they all start to look the same, or at least, similar.

That makes it hard to convince someone that your option is the better one. Attention spans are limited. Understanding is often rushed. And people are quick to take refuge in a they’re-all-the-same-really attitude. The problem then is that when two things are viewed as the same, then the choice comes down to price.

To win the sale you need to be cheaper. It’s a race to the bottom.

And when you’re in a race to the bottom, the risk is that you win.

So how can you escape this downhill race? You could try even harder to be better. The problem is that you run the risk of feeling like you need to manipulate people to make them think what you offer is better. You exaggerate, you manipulate, you over-promise… just to get a sale.

This is rarely what people really want. They may be accustomed to it after years of conditioning by manipulative advertisers. But deep down, all the talk of ‘better’ rarely hits the target.

‘Better’ isn’t always better

The problem with better is we’ve been taught that there is only one way to be better. For example, we’re told that a Rolls Royce is better than a Ford Focus, but that’s not true. A Ford Focus is a much better car for most people’s needs. Most of the time, it’s better in many ways than a Rolls Royce. A Roller is only better in one respect: luxury. Focus on the practical and the Ford Focus is a clear winner for most people.

There is no single definition of ‘better.’

Don’t strive to be better, be different

So if what you do isn’t better, what is it?

It’s different.

Focus on your offer’s unique properties – how is it, unlike other similar products?

Position your marketing to say, “If you like X then you’ll love Y – because it’s different.” You’re still offering people a comparison but you’re also highlighting

what makes you and your offer stand out.

Here’s an example using the Twelv social media network:

Twelv App and the words "Twelv — Social without pressure"

If you like social media but you don’t like how it makes you feel then you might like Twelv, it’s social media but without the pressure.

Riffing on that idea I could say “If you don’t like the way marketing makes you feel then my book offers a fresh perspective, it’s a 3-step plan to effective and ethical marketing”.

In this way I’m not saying my book is better than other books, I am simply saying it’s different. So if you’re looking for different, then this might be it.

This is often how we recommend things to our friends and family. We don’t focus on ‘better’, we explain how and why something is different and why that matters.

So, your offer doesn’t need to be better, it just needs to stand out as a great fit for people looking for something like it.

But… Everyone else is saying they’re better.

Many brands and big companies need to rely on better (often because they really are pushing a generic product or service). You don’t. When you are selling yourself, when your name is on the door, you don’t have to be better because you are already different. You can use your marketing to showcase what makes you you, and why that should matter to your clients.

Relax and be different

Once you stop trying to be better, you can be different. You can be the thing for people who are looking for an alternative, something new, something non-generic.

You can say, if you’re looking for something like X, then I have Y for you. It’s not better than X, it’s different from X, and then say how, specifically. For many, that’s exactly what they want.

Now for something completely different

This idea of ‘difference over better’ is one that I explore in my book Reframing Marketing: A 3-step plan for effective and ethical marketing. The book is a practical guide for people who run their own businesses. The 3-step plan will give you clarity about who you want to work with, what value you can offer them and why they can trust you to deliver it.