If you ask people to name the restaurant that has their favorite salsa, some will have an opinion and others won't. Same thing holds true for spaghetti sauce. Anyone can name a handful of places that they would recommend with good soup or great salads, but they rarely have a top spot in mind.
Now, ask someone who likes guacamole who has the best and they will normally have a place that comes to mind immediately. Try it.
What does guacamole have to do with business success?
When it comes to competitive advantages, having something that differentiates a business and helps it stand out is one of the keys. In many industries, there is very little difference between one company and another. Someone might like a specific brand of mustard but will settle for whatever is available. Honda, Mercedes, and Toyota were once the epitome of reliability but today a well-maintained Ford, Hyundai, or Fiat can easily be driven over 200,000 miles. Dell has as many fans as detractors, as does Samsung, Acer, Asus, and even Apple.
Today, it's important to have the world's best guacamole. It might not be the primary food served at a Mexican restaurant, but having a great guacamole is often enough to get people to come. More importantly, making the claim of having "the world's best guacamole" is enough to get people to try it.
"Oh, really?" they ask. "We'll just have to see about that."
The key is finding yours.
The biggest challenge many businesses face when determining their differentiator is that they focus too hard on the obvious. Their product or service may be great compared to the competition, but that alone is not enough to set your business apart. If your a security software company and you have what you feel is the most secure anti-virus software in the industry, saying so will not be impressive. Everyone thinks theirs is the best.
That's not the guacamole.
If your software updates behind the scenes daily, that's guacamole. Most anti-virus software has weekly or sporadic updates. People don't necessarily want the best, or rather they believe that there isn't really a difference between one claiming to be the best and someone else claiming to be the best. Having something tangible to set your software apart is much more powerful.
"With daily updates, your system is protected with the latest security software faster than anyone else in the industry."
That's a guacamole statement. That's the kind of claim that can be backed up with facts, shared between people, and easily recommended, which brings us to...
People ask their friends and relatives about food all the time. "I'm in the mood for a great steak. Is there a great steak house around?"
Apply this to Mexican food. "I'm in the mood for a great burrito. Where should we go?"
"Well, Antonio's in Long Beach has the best guacamole in town. Let's go there."
This can be applied to just about any business online or off. The reason that guacamole works so well is because it's perceived as an important component. There's a reason why car companies are no longer boasting about longevity and reliability the way they did just a decade ago. Now, it's all about the components and features. There's a big push right now for connectivity.
Cadillac, for example, is billing their new CUE system as something that operates like a tablet with an in-dashboard interface with a touchscreen. They are appealing to the luxury car market without actually telling much about what the system does. In reality, it doesn't offer much more functionality than any other luxury car's dashboard controls. It does, however, have the guacamole effect in that it gives them something that they can promote that is different in the way it works.
More importantly, it's sharable. People are talking about it. Tech blogs are buzzing about it. It's not designed to sell the car the way reliability commercials did in the past. Today, it's all about getting the potential customers in the door or on the Internet looking into the brand and the features themselves.
Take a look at your products or services. Take a look at your marketing. Examine your sales pitches. Is your business focused on the overall picture of having a strong offering, or are you latching onto an idea that can be understood and appreciated quickly and that can be shared easily?
Some would call it a gimmick. Others realize it's a big part of the path towards success. It's guacamole. What's yours?
[Image: Flickr user Michael Verhoef]