Iterating and innovating in a commodity-driven world.

Everyone’s an expert and there’s always a cheaper option. At least, that’s what the internet would lead us to believe.

Look no further than the sheer amount of social media “experts” and do-it-yourself website builders and logo design tools that exist. Why work with a CPA when you can fire up an app that does your taxes for you? Why pay a creative firm thousands of dollars when you can design something on your own for a few bucks a month?

Valid questions, of course. But as the owner of a creative service-based firm, I feel compelled not to ignore the trending commoditization of much of our work – bur rather, to focus on iterating and innovating to ensure we don’t fall into the same crowded pool.

As Peter Drucker once said:

“In a commodity market, you can only be as good as your dumbest competitor.”

To take a page from my friends at Bayside (ala Saved by the Bell), rather than going down with the sinking Friendship Bracelet market, Jessie, Kelly, and Slater iterated and invented Buddy Bands. So long “stupid wristband”, hello “clever headband”! They iterated. They innovated. And ultimately came out on top.

So whether your a personal trainer battling on-demand online tools, a financial planner combatting the advice of money bloggers around the country, or a designer working to sell the value of your creative process, in the market we exist in today – one that often demands faster and cheaper over intentionality, creativity, and expertise, it’s that much more important to step back and figure out why you do what you do – and let than shine through.

In other words, you want to be the Buddy Band within the crowded Friendship Bracelet market. So, how do you do it?

  • Articulate your values. Write them down and run your business through them daily.
  • Understand your customer. What do they need? More importantly, what do they really want?
  • Get personal. Even in a commodity-driven market, people want to work with people (and are willing to pay – more than you’d think – to work with the RIGHT people).
  • Define what you do best. You probably don’t have an entirely unique idea. Odds are someone’s done it before. Place your focus on what you do better than anyone else – and champion that above all else.

Even in the most crowded marketplace, there will always be room for ingenuity and innovation. Hey, it works.

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