I saw a great video recently featuring marketer Seth Godin. His basic advice to people and businesses: "race to the top," not the bottom.
Godin's race to the bottom refers to today's trend to compete based on the absolute cheapest way to sell/produce/perform.
His comments hit home. Winning the race to the bottom actually sucks. You become a commodity. A generic, no frills version of what you could have been.
My industry, logistics and supply chain, could easily be placed in the commodity box. There are literally thousands of companies that all do the same thing – essentially moving product from one place to another. For the most part, buyers of logistics services are motivated to do it as cost efficiently as possible. I get that – most bottom lines are significantly impacted by supply chain costs. However, those same buyers routinely ask their logistics partners to invest to bring innovation and proactive solutions to the business relationship.
Can you do both?
You can try. Or is it better, as Godin suggests, to drop out of the race to the bottom and join a new race? A race to the top that rebels against the idea that the only way to win is to do it the same way, just cheaper.
In the short term, winning the race to the bottom may pay off in a few new customers. But there is always someone ready to offer it a little cheaper. Then the race begins again as competitors redefine how low the bottom can go.
Better to race to the top. A race that demands creativity, risk and faith that your vision for a better way is a game changer. Oh, and it demands courage. Courage to exit the highway when everyone else is confidently speeding straight ahead – to the bottom.