Collpase Of Distinction by Scott McKainBy Eric Brown

It has taken me a while to write this review. Not from lack of reading time, I assure you, I often have 2-3 books going at once. Scott McKain’s book, The Collapse Of Distinction: Stand Out and Move Up While Your Competition Fails, is not a book you skim through. I found myself taking it a bite-at-a-time. I often paused to reflect on and look for ways to apply the action steps outlined in the book. I have many pages dog-eared and chunks of the content underlined.

Some of the questions early in the book that bear reflection are:

  • How can your customers distinguish you from your competition?
  • Do you bring a higher value to customers?
  • Besides product and price, what do you really sell?
  • Why would your customer pay for you over your competition?

If you are new to brand development or in the process of reviving your brand, answering these initial questions may be all you need in order to set yourself head and shoulders above your competitors. Yet, you would be doing yourself a disservice if you did not process the remainder of McKain’s material.

Understanding The 3 Destroyers

According to the author, there are 3 destroyers of distinction:

  1. Incremental Advances – emulation; replicating small advances your competitors make.
  2. New Competitors – new challenges; trying to be like competitors and not staying on top of the competitive landscape.
  3. Familiarity Breeds Complacency – customer boredom; being so familiar you are taken for granted.

Think about it – what have you changed in the last year about yourself or your organization to freshen the approach with your customers and constituents?

Don’t Be Different – Be Distinct!

McKain goes on to define what he calls “The Ebert Effect” named after movie critic, Roger Ebert.

When people, from their perspective, are inundated with indistinguishable choices, they perceive a product, service, approach, or experience with a specific point of differentiation to be superior.

This means creating small strategies that are recognizable as different from your competition. This is only one step to being different in the customers eyes. We are encouraged to move toward being distinct. The only way to do this, says McKain, is to create a foundation of distinction built on the following four pillars:

  • Clarity – Who are you? Be specific about what your organization is and is not.
  • Creativity – McKain says, “Creativity without clarity is devoid of distinction.” What creative strategies are you employing to enhance the quality of customer contacts?
  • Communication – Know the benefits of compelling story telling. Tweak your distinct communication for your audiences.
  • Customer Experience Focus – Create a unique customer centric experience that cements loyalty.

Each of the pillars works with the next. You cannot have one without the others if you wish to truly be distinct.

Final Thoughts

The book was more than a business book, it was a work book. It is laid out for those people who have the time to consume the book page by page. It also has executive summaries at the end of each chapter followed by action steps to put the material into practice – which I would highly recommend.

The publisher, Thomas Nelson, also added a unique feature. Published as a “Nelson Free” title allows the buyer access to three formats for the price of one! I got the hardback version and that gave me access to both an ebook and an audio version of the book. At this writing, it looks as though Thomas Nelson has continued this practice with only a small handful of their titles. A nice perk but not a must-have for many readers.

Nevertheless, if you are wanting to improve your brand distinction, The Collapse Of Distinction, is definitely worth the read. It is full of practical tips throughout and resources at the back of the book that can help you dig further into differentiating your company from the myriad of others vying for consumer attention.

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