If everyone else is selling apples, you should be selling apple pie. If everyone else is selling apple pie, you should be selling apples. By aggregating or disaggregating things, you can step away from direct comparison with your competition. That frees you to charge what you want, not what the market defines as the price.
This is pattern number 9: trouble the water to catch the fish.
Global Medical Imaging (GMI) applies this pattern to disengage from direct competition and to trouble its competitors by offering several services. By blending three businesses – imaging devices, financing, and service – into one package, GMI offers doctors a better solution while also complicating competitors’ efforts.
GMI can go to doctors and say something like, “We’ll make sure you have the ultrasound device you need, and it will be working whenever you need it. This will require no thinking or effort on your part. You just pay one, predictable, periodic fee.”
Because GMI competitors do not blend these three offerings, they have difficulty offering a compelling alternative. They may say, “Buy this device, we’ll organize the financing at this or that rate, and then another company can sell you a service package.”
This is like one of Xerox’s original innovations: charging companies per copy and offering the copier and service for “free,” while its competitors were selling hardware at steep prices. Arguably, Xerox’s application of pattern number nine contributed more to Xerox’s success than its original technological innovation.
This is why Microsoft sells Office instead of Powerpoint, Excel, and Word. This is why financial firms made so much money selling derivatives rather than the assets from which those derivatives derived.
Ask yourself the questions below to see how you can apply pattern number nine, and find a way to distinguish yourself from the competition.
1. How could I aggregate the parts to create something new?
2. How can I disaggregate things to create new things?
3. What does my competition offer, and how can I make my approach more appealing?