Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Competitive Insulation

Seth Godin blogs today, in Facts always win, right?, about something he calls competitive insulation that protects your business from commodification. It's made up of relationships and whatnot, and along with these points of emphasis, you add your story.

I think he's talking about building up a sub-culture around your product or service, which relates directly to how you might go about your brand-building. This competitive insulation is something referenced in part 4 of Cory Doctorow's (so far) excellent Makers, currently being serialized on Tor.com. The event starts in the fifth paragraph, the one that starts "Lester came back..." In it, the group has discovered their product is now being made by a competitor who's selling it for less than the group's cost to manufacture.

"How do we compete with that?" asks one member, and the answer he receives is "We don't...Now we do the next thing."

Then he goes on to explain that they will do something "even more capital intensive," and the implication here is that they are raising the barriers to entry a bit, and by moving on and coming up with something else very cool they are enhancing their story, building their brand. Cory Doctorow is the bomb-diggity.

And so is Seth Godin. I really like this term, competitive insulation.

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Thursday, July 2, 2009

Gushment Is Not Good Enough

Gushing is disgusting. In that respect it’s related to “spewing.” But the icky phenomenon to which I refer is sticky sweet.

I’m referring, of course, to “unsolicited” testimonials. You see them in non-fiction books where the writer is recalling the responses of former students exposed to her revelatory techniques.

“This changes everything!” they sometimes say, which is a fine thing to say – everyone does, from time to time, but it should not be presented as evidence of anything. It’s gushing, for pity’s sake, and for all the liquid biological connotations, it should be obvious that it’s involuntary, and not a considered response.

Advice to writers always includes things like, “Don’t tell the editor how much your sister likes your writing.” Duh. It’s a referral on 1) hand-picked dataverses, and 2) anecdotal evidence in general. We should pay attention.

We should not accept gushment as evidence.

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