Are you in a commoditized industry? Haggling over price? Seeing growth slow? Does your product or service look a lot like the next guy’s?
No, this isn’t a pharmaceutical commercial, although I am here to tell you – you are not alone.
Most of us are in mature commoditized industries.
Still, some of these companies are winning big while the rest claw for scraps.
Think your industry has it bad?
Take Dollar General. Can you get more commoditized? Yet somehow, they’re planning to open 1,000 new stores this year. Check out their stock price. Are they just getting lucky?
If it’s not luck, they must have a better strategy, right? Better consultants? Or more funding?
They have a better culture.
Check out the message I got from Olivia within one nanosecond of visiting the culture page on Dollar General’s website.
A nice theory…
A few years ago, I was part of a brainstorming session to enhance our customer value proposition. We were all sitting around a table when our chief marketing officer said, “You know… it’s not our products or services, it’s our culture that differentiates us.”
That’s nice, I thought, but it sounds more like a marketing mind trick than an actual strategy.
I tucked his idea gently into a mental drawer, and I turned out the light.
Or was it more?
Fast forward a few years to my first day at my new gig with DMG. I was standing in the lobby next to a new executive in the company. A team member stopped to introduce herself as she was walking into work.
“What do you do for us? How do you like it here?” the exec asked.
“I’m an account executive, and I ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT HERE,” she replied. Her positive energy lit up the lobby.
Wow. “Love?” Did she really mean “Love?” Maybe she uses “Love” like I use “Awesome.” As in, way too often, and to describe everything from my Amazon delivery arriving early to getting gas 20 cents cheaper at Costco.
But it didn’t take long for me to figure out, she actually meant it. She really and truly loves her job.
“When you take care of your employees, they will take care of your customers and your customers will take care of you.”
– Michael Hyatt
Culture as your company’s competitive advantage
A mentor of mine once described culture as air. You can’t see it, but companies need it to survive. And it has to be clean and healthy.
A company with great culture can change the world. But if the culture is sick – even the tiniest little germ has the capacity to rot the whole company from within.
“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”
– Peter Drucker
I find that too often, new strategies start with looking externally. We diagnose the addressable market. We size up our competitors. And that’s a shame, because sometimes, the larger opportunity is right in front of us, inside our own house.
Instead of starting with external strategies, maybe we should start by asking ourselves, Do we live the right culture needed to win?
And unlike me when I first heard it, I hope this is an idea you don’t tuck away.