In his new book, Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? acclaimed writer, blogger and thought leader Seth Godin talks about the rise of the linchpins, an individual that defies the status quo, who goes beyond being a drone dedicated to fulfilling the whims of management, who stands up and makes a difference by loving their work and turning everything they do into a work of art.
In essence, making themselves indispensable.
It all begins by refusing to be average, to be pigeonholed into a category that is safe and accepted, to be bullied into submission, to conform.
Now, let’s talk about your brand.
If yours is a small financial services player, does that mean you have to play by the rules established by more powerful institutions?
If you own a café that’s being overwhelmed by big chain restaurants, are you going to try and beat them at their own game?
If your company is being smothered by competitors with bigger budgets, are you suddenly going to outspend them?
The answer, if we may, is No, No, and No.
You don’t have to be coerced, manipulated or forced to do any of those things, because you’re not doing business for the benefit of your competitors; you’re in the business of giving your customers a reason to love you.
In a sense, making yourself indispensable to them.
If you’re small, that just means you’re built to be more agile, more personal and more accessible to your customers. Which means you get to spend more time with them to find out their fears, needs and desires, and have the flexibility to give them exactly what they need rather than a generic product that can easily be replicated by someone else.
It’s the same thing if you’re a self-owned business competing with big chains. Start by not seeing them as competition.
Can they react as quickly as you can to on-the-spot situations?
Will they ever be able to know their thousands of customers by name?
Are they equipped to throw in special, meaningful gestures just to make a customers’ day?
That’s like McDonald’s giving out an extra Big Mac because the outlet manager doesn’t think what his customer has ordered will be enough for the entire family. It just doesn’t happen, but guess what, it can if you’re a neighbourhood burger joint, or a family-run mini-mart.
Also, bigger budgets? That doesn’t translate into more emphatic service or a more joyful experience, which is what will motivate customers to come back again and again and again.
So do you have what it takes to be an indispensable brand?
We know you do, once you stop running with the crowd.