Best Practices Make You Average

Best Practices Make You Average

If you are looking for marketing advice filled with best practices, I can’t help you.

Marketing challenges like most business problems can get stuck in average solutions when you look at what everyone else does. Do you want to be the average of all businesses in your category? If so, then go ahead and follow the best practices from your industry.

It is the disruptors who don’t follow the flock and look in a fresh direction.

Meet Eric, Ben & Philip

If you want to start a movement and get customers excited, you need more than a good idea. You need a great idea, or you’ll never get anyone to share your message.

You have to understand an industry and then break at least one fundamental rule that others follow, observe or use. Great marketers focus on something others ignore.

Madness to their Method: Upstart brands take things away. Eric Ryan started Method in 2001. He looked at all the cleaning products available and said, we don’t want to do what they do. How can we make products without the chemicals? All the other brands had labels that read like a chemistry class. Method wanted to start a movement, so they removed something everyone expected to find. The folks at Method didn’t want to be another me-too product on the shelf. They understood how the industry worked – and they took a detour. Their ingredients were eco-friendly and they used ocean plastic that was recycled for their elegantly shaped bottles. 

Fat Chunks, not Pieces. Ben Cohen wanted to create a different kind of ice cream and add something no one else had done before. Up until 1978, all ice cream with mixed-in (candy, cake, cookies) were broken into tiny pieces so they could go through the traditional filling machine. Ben Cohen didn’t want to make another average ice cream. He insisted on having huge chunks of cookies, brownies, and dough in their pints, even if it meant getting custom made equipment. Ben didn’t want to be average, and there is nothing average about Ben & Jerry’s. Everyone told Ben he was crazy and that his production lines would be inefficient. Ben only cared about getting nice, fat chunks of oreo in his pints, unlike the competition that would give you tiny pieces. He understood the category and then created something different that frozen out the competition. 

Sleeping at Home. When Philip Krim wanted to start a mattress company, he looked around at all the competitor and said, why is it that people have to try a mattress in a store instead of at home where they’ll use it? He rejected the notion that people should lie down in their street clothes in the middle of a store to see if they liked the feel of a bed. Philip created Casper, where a mattress came in a box and shipped to your home. You can try it for 100 days and return it for free if you don’t love it. (not like it, you must love it). Philip wanted nothing to do with how everyone else sold mattresses. He understood the rules and best practices of the industry – and then he ignored all the category conventions of how to sell mattresses.

Throw Out the Best Practices

If you want to be noticed, an industries best practices are a waste of time. They’ll help you learn how to be average. A terrific book on being different is by Youngme Moon who teaches at Harvard. Check out my review of Different.

Do you still want to follow best practices so that you can be another average business?

Looking to stir things up? I can help. Let’s disrupt your category with an innovative twist on how others market themselves in your category. Text me at 919 720 0995 or email me at or find a carrier pigeon and send me a message.

Photo by salvatore ventura on Unsplash




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