Differentiation and Dead Chickens

“If you can differentiate a dead chicken, you can differentiate anything.” – Frank Perdue

Before Perdue, there was no recognizable “chicken brand”, and no differentiation between chicken sources. If you wanted chicken, you would get whatever your local farmer, butcher or grocery store had available for sale. If the chicken was any good, it was the magic of good old chicken genetics that was responsible for it’s flavor and lean protein.

In a world where all chickens were the same, Perdue changed the conversation by attempting to own ” chicken quality”. Their branding created the “tough about quality” reputation of Frank Perdue, which not only elevated their public perception, but it also de-valued the competition. The competition wasn’t talking about quality….what were they hiding?

Frank Perdue was talking about quality in a tremendous advertising campaign and he became the relentlessly driven Chicken Quality Tough guy. Perdue was all over television, extolling the virtues of his chickens, how they only ate special grains and only drank well water. The US government might allow a lesser quality chicken to be “Grade A” but that wasn’t good enough for Frank Perdue. The tagline? “It takes a tough man to make a tender chicken”.

And it worked. Perdue bred and raised their chickens with an eye for quality and celebrated that fact at every opportunity, creating a differentiation that did not previously exist. Before, nobody cared about which brand of chicken they were buying. After Perdue helped educate consumers, they went with the brand they trusted.
So how do we learn from the Perdue example?

What is differentiation, anyway?

Differentiation is that quality that sets you apart from your competition.  Why do I choose you instead of the guy standing next to you selling the same thing? If I want to invest in an IRA, why do I go talk to a certain financial advisor instead of the eleventy billion other financial advisors at the local Chamber of Commerce? Differentiation! For some reason, this financial advisor…or bookkeeper or real estate agent or comic book store or restaurant stands out from the competition. How do the good ones differentiate themselves?

First, what not to do. In today’s marketplace, if we decided to talk about quality we wouldn’t get the same traction as Perdue…it’s a word and a concept that has been watered down and over-used. The grocery store is stuffed with marketing campaigns that are focused on “quality”. Quality is the “table stakes” and gets you in the game, but is not going to get you the win.  Perdue recognized that and expanded their marketing to include product innovation…(oven stuffer roaster, pre-cooked meals, a focus on organic and local farming methods) and healthy, all-natural appeal: all vegetarian feed for the chickens.

Changing the Conversation

That last bit is interesting to me…Perdue always fed their chickens an all grain/vegetable (corn, soy + marigold seed) diet. But nobody cared for over 30 years. Now, it’s a selling point. Let’s start with that:

Think about what you or your company are doing that seems like a reasonable step, something that every responsible member of your industry does as a matter of course that the layman wouldn’t necessarily think is standard? What do you do (like Perdue always fed their chickens a vegetarian diet) that you can make the new focus of the conversation? If every bookkeeper generates reports out of Quickbooks, can you talk about the power of the A/R aging statement? Sure, they all do it, but who’s really talking about it? If you’re the avenging bookkeeper who can use an A/R Aging as a tool to bring in money and help cashflow, maybe that sets you apart. Not in the accounting community, but to your potential clients. You can change the conversation and educate your potential clients.
There are many other ways to stand out from your competition and get noticed. Unfortunately, that’s a little bit more involved then one blog post.
Understanding the how of differentiating your product or service can be challenging, but is very worth the time and investment. Understanding the WHY of differentiating is the first step. If you know understand the WHY and want help in the how, Next Level Operations can help. Let’s get started.