By Jeff Beals
During a recent hotel visit, I noticed an odd-looking item on the bathroom vanity. It was the bar of complimentary soap in the little box that every hotel provides alongside the vials of shampoo and conditioner. But this hotel soap was different. There was a circular hole cut right through the middle of the box and the bar of soap itself. When I pulled the soap out of the box, it looked like a roll of Scotch tape.
Next, I took a tiny tube of toothpaste out of my travel kit and noticed something unique about it too. It was Colgate MaxFresh “with mini breath strips.” Mini breath strips…What’s that??? Out of curiosity, I closely examined the toothpaste as I squeezed it out and onto the brush. Sure enough, the gel was full of tiny little squares – each about two millimeters squared – that resembled breath strips, those mint-flavored things you put on your tongue and dissolve in your mouth.
The hole in the soap and the nearly microscopic strips in the toothpaste were obviously intended to differentiate these products among a sea of competitors. Consumer products, such as soap and toothpaste, are as mature an industry as you can find. Colgate sold the first commercial toothpaste in 1873, but primitive versions of toothpaste go back thousands of years. Soap has been around since 2,800 B.C.
Makers of mature products must constantly come up with new distinguishing features and benefits.
Such a philosophy should similarly be applied to all of what we do professionally. Whether it’s your job, your personal brand, the products you sell or the company you own, you have to make periodic changes to stave off stagnation.
The trick is to freshen without losing beneficial identities that have taken years and many resources to build. Honor your tradition, be consistent with your established success but find new ways to stand out in a rapidly commoditizing world.
Jeff Beals is a professional speaker and award-winning author, who helps professionals enjoy greater success through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. He delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. To discuss booking a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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