To be valuable to the world, somewhere in our business, we have to do something really hard. – Matt Johnson

In a world of no competitors, we could offer something that’s easy for us to deliver, and because it’s rare and valuable, it’s easy to market and sell.

Sadly, we don’t live in that world.

In a world of competitors, something must be hard in order for us to have a profitable business. Let’s look at 3 companies, Starbucks, GoDaddy and Apple.

Starbucks did no TV advertising, and very little advertising in general, until it was already the Starbucks we know today. It grew almost entirely by word of mouth because they did the hard work of creating a service experience that was totally unique and compelling. Then they did more hard work, the really really hard work, of delivering that experience consistently, day after day, all around the world. They didn’t need a big breakthrough in their sales or marketing strategy, people did the talking for them.

They’re an example of doing the hard work on the service, the thing they’re selling.

GoDaddy is an example of the exact opposite.

They sell domains, something that a bunch of other companies do or could have done.
The service is relatively easy to deliver, and they have a truckload of competition.
What stands out about GoDaddy is their marketing. They’ve built this fun, outrageous brand on the back of outlandish, loud, colorful ads chock full of beautiful celebrities like Danica Patrick.

They had a service that was easy for them to deliver, but hard to market and sell.
So they did a very hard thing – they took a commodity business and gave it a personality. That’s a marketing breakthrough. They did the hard work in their marketing.

If you want to be really, really successful, do both. That’s why Apple is so successful.
Apple did the hard work of creating a handful of amazing, world-changing products that people absolutely go nuts for. Then they followed that up with a marketing strategy that gave their brand a fun, memorable, hip, young, rebellious personality. They created a brand that people wanted to identify with.

They did two hard things – they created something almost impossible for other companies to replicate, then followed it up with brilliant marketing that created one of the most powerful and influential brands of all time.

Here’s the lesson for experts. If we want to be profitable for any length of time, we need to do something hard.

Either create something – a product or service – that’s nearly impossible for others to copy. OR create a breakthrough in sales and marketing that’s nearly impossible for others to copy.

They can both be done, but what we CAN’T do is offer something that was easy for us to create, and then expect it to also market and sell easily.

IF we have something that was easy for us to create, then we probably have competition and it won’t be easy to market and sell.

That’s great news because most of our competitors aren’t willing to do that. It leaves a great opportunity for those of us willing to do something hard.


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