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Differentiation By Where

7 Big Questions & Answers Of Business Success

How do you differentiate your business?

You answer the 7 big questions of business success in a way that is distinctive:

  • Who?
  • What?
  • How?
  • Where?
  • When?
  • Why?
  • How Much?

Is differentiating your business really that simple?

Yes and No.

These questions are an immensely powerful way to design your business to be different from your competitors.

But, while you have the ideas and answers, it’s not your opinion that matters in the end.

Your potential customers have the power to reward a well-designed and differentiated business.

And to get your reward, you need to motivate them by appealing to their self-interest.

You’ve probably seen the letters WIIFM before if you read business blogs.

They stand for “What’s In It For Me?”

It’s a question you must keep in your mind at all times because if you don’t, your market will ignore you.

You need to answer the 7 big questions of business success by looking through your customers eyes to make sure that what you are doing is adding value to them and strengthening your relationship.

in 3 – Your Strategic Positioning

Housebites : A Different Kind Of Takeaway Food Service

Saturday night is takeaway night in our house so I was very interested to hear about Housebites, a new deluxe takeaway food service which is about to burst onto the scenes today 12 September 2011.

The Problem With Traditional Takeaway Food

Takeaway food is usually easy to order and often quite cheap but it’s often not very good.

And if you have dietary issues, you worry about what’s gone into it.

Housebites Is Different

The unique selling point for Housebites promises:

  • the easy convenience of a takeaway with the restaurant quality food delivered to your door
  • with the food prepared by personally chosen local chefs
  • a chance to interact with the chef
  • feedback through social media

Has The Housebites Concept Changed?

A quick search on the Internet suggests that the Housebites concept has changed slightly since it was first conceived and promoted in 2010.

Originally it seemed to be focused on hosted dinner parties or as a public supper club (think Come Dine With Me where you don’t have to do the cooking?).

The video makes it clear that you don’t have to go anywhere – Housebites will deliver their freshly cooked food to you.

How Housebites Now Works

  1. Go to the Housebites website at www.housebites.com and enter your postcode – it’s London only at the moment
  2. Browse the menus by chefs in your area by day
  3. Choose the number of main courses, sides, starters, desserts or drinks you want
  4. Decide when you want it delivered
  5. Checkout and pay
  6. Wait for your meal to be delivered
  7. Give feedback to the chef and to other Housebites customers
  8. Come back and order again the next time you want a gourmet takeaway

The Differentiation Factors

This gourmet takeaway service is crossing two sectors:

  • good, local food which you have to go out to a restaurant to enjoy
  • the easy convenience of a takeaway

This is therefore differentiation by the what and where factors – great food prepared for you but eaten at home.

It’s also building up on the differentiation by who factor as it gives local chefs a chance to build up their own local celebrity status.

Let me explain.

Housebites -What’s In It For The Chefs?

The chefs who have joined Housebites include professional chefs with experience at The Ivy, Fifteen, Le Caprice and Bluebird as well as amateur gifted chefs. Andy Oliver, a 2009 masterchef finalist is one of the people behind Housebites.

So why are good chefs getting involved?

It seems that it’s not much fun being a station chef in a restaurant which is an impression I’ve gained from watching programmes on restaurants on TV. Low pay, boring tasks and being shouted at in the organised chaos of a busy restaurant seem to be the norm.

Housebites gives the chefs a chance to design menus, buy ingredients, prepare the full meal and get feedback from customers while they fantasise about one day owning their own restaurant.

Since the failure rate of new restaurants is terrible, this gives the chefs involved in Housebites a chance to build up their own local reputation and to develop a group of loyal followers.

Looking At The Three New Business Risk Factors

In Will Your New Business Succeed I looked at three risk factors – demand risk, competitive risk and capability risk.

It’s difficult to predict a strong demand for anything in these times of austerity cuts and falling living standards but I think there’s demand for a better priced takeaway service provided the prices are kept in check.

Takeaways have lost some of their traditional custom as people have cut back but also picked up business from those people who used to eat in restaurants regularly.

Housebites have positioned themselves as a middleman between customers who want food and chefs who can provide it. This type of service can work very well (think eBay) but success relies on building up a critical mass on both the demand and supply side.

Housebites may be first but there doesn’t look to be anything to stop a competitor from imitating the Housebites idea and competing harder and faster for customers and chefs.

WeBuyAnyCar.com used brute-force TV advertising and an irritating jingle to drum its brand name into the minds of the public but competitors have jumped on the bandwagon with similar sounding names. Mind you they may well be promoting their rivals who own the number one position in the minds of the market.

It will be interesting to see how much marketing muscle Housebites can put in to build up brand name awareness. It’s started well with a one-page article in the Sunday Times Style magazine yesterday.

On the capability risk, if you make a promise of restaurant quality food to win preference over traditional takeaways and you charge a premium price, then you’d better deliver.

I understand that Housebites selects its chefs carefully and in the London area, it has been testing the concept with offers of free meals. This is encouraging and the social media feedback should reward the chefs who do offer great food.

I suspect that scalability is a potential problem both as the individual chefs get busier and as more chefs are brought on board. The roast chicken dinner with all the trimmings I cooked last night was pretty good, even if I do say it myself. It was even on schedule. I’d have struggled to cook anything else and even professional, experienced chefs must run into trouble when everything needs to be done at once.

What Do You Think About The Housebites Concept?

I hope Housebites succeed because I believe that it is a different business idea which brings benefits to the customers who want to experience better food without having to leave their homes.

What do you think?

Let me know by leaving a comment.

in 3 – Your Strategic Positioning

I want to tell you about Naturetrek, a specialist birdwatching and wildlife holiday company that is based in the UK but provides amazing wildlife adventure holidays around the world.

The Theory & Practice Of Differentiating Your Business

My blog shares plenty of the theory about differentiating a business but it’s nice to see the concepts of differentiation, strategic focus and niche marketing in practice and I think Naturetrek is a great example.

Of course, it helps in that it combines two areas of particular interest to me, travel/holidays and wildlife. I’ve already written about travel agency differentiation.

It also gives me an excuse to share some of my favourite photos from my wildlife safari holidays.

African Wild Dogs

What is Naturetrek?

To quote from the Naturetrek website

“Naturetrek operates the largest selection of professionally organised, expert-led wildlife holidays and tours in the world. We’ve been organising specialist wildlife tours for 25 years.”

That’s a strong unique selling point. Let’s break down the positioning statement:

  • A very clear what – professionally organised, expert-led wildlife holidays and tours
  • And where – all around the world – I’ll list some of the tours later so you can see how specialised it is.
  • And how many – a combination of “the largest selection” (and it is vast) and “the 25 years” which gives confidence and credibility.

Naturetrek Sample Tours

Here are some examples of Naturetrek wildlife holidays taken from their 2012 brochure that arrived a couple of weeks ago:

You’ll see quite a variety from what I’d think are the popular holidays to some very specialist tours:

  • Kenya’s Wildlife
  • Namibia, Botswana & Zambia – Etosha to the Victoria Falls
  • Finland – Just Brown Bears
  • Spitzbergen – Real Of The Polar Bear
  • Wolves & Bustards In Rural Spain
  • Temples & Tigers – The Best Of Northern India
  • Borneo’s Orang-utans
  • The Carmague In Spring
  • Iceland in Autumn – Glaciers, Icebergs & Waterfalls
  • Bulgaria’s Dragonflies
  • Butterflies In Croatia
  • And many, many more – the range of wildlife and nature tours that Naturetrek offer is remarkable.

Wildlife Holidays Are Amazing

Elephants, again in Botswana

Without trying to sound like I’m promoting Naturetrek, I can’t put into words just how special it is to see animals in the wild.

Margaret and I have become addicted to safari holidays in Southern Africa. We did our first in 2001 and our sixth in 2008. Unfortunately my health issues have caused us to stop but I’d like to think that in 2012 or 2013 we can venture into the wilds again.

Still it does show that you should take the chance to do something this special when you can because you never know what is around the corner.

We’ve seen some amazing things including this incredible sighting of a female leopard who appeared in front of us and then climbed a tree to put on a show.

The stunning highlight of a great holiday in Botswana – our best leopard sighting ever

This Isn’t A Naturetrek Holidays Review

I want to make it clear that this isn’t a review of Naturetrek wildlife holidays because we haven’t travelled with them.

When we’ve been to Southern Africa – South Africa, Botswana and Zambia – it has always been with a specialist South Africa travel agency – Cedarberg – who have been excellent. We met a couple of South Africans on a cruise holiday and it sounded wonderful so the next year we went to Cape Town, the Garden Route and finished near the Addo Elephant National Park. We were hooked.

We had talked about doing one of the European bear holidays with Naturetrek to celebrate my 50th birthday but my health problems got in the way.

I love getting the Naturetrek brochure to see where we could go but there are aspects of the marketing which don’t quite tip me over from interest to action. Their MD, David Mills asked for reasons and I sent him a long email.

It will be interesting to see if he responds and how quickly. In fact Naturetrek may not realise it but if, when and how they respond to my reply to the request to their question “why haven’t you bought from us” has become a big moment of truth which could define the relationship on the purchase tipping point.

Update on Naturetrek – it took five weeks to receive an acknowledgement from my email which was disappointing and I suspect only happened because of this blog.

Have You Been On A Naturetrek Wildlife Holiday?

I’m using Naturetrek as an example of a business which has a very strong position in a tightly defined niche but I’m very happy for this article to include comments from those people who have been on one of the Naturetrek tours.

Did you have a great time?

Did you see the wildlife you hoped to see?

Did you find the company provided good customer service and responded well to your needs?

Would you go back again and would you recommend a Naturetrek wildlife holiday to other people?

Key Success Factors For A Wildlife Holiday

I’ll just step away from Naturetrek and share my thoughts on the key success factors for a wildlife holiday.

  1. The wildlife or nature experience. Animals and birds follow their own rules and in the wild, no sighting can be guaranteed. However, they have patterns of behaviours which can be predicted. Your experience will depend on what you see, what you see them doing, how long you see them and how close you are. When it’s right it just feels so magical to be sharing their world.
  2. Whether there is a guide and if so, the quality of the guide. You may have assumed that professional guiding was always included in a wildlife holiday but you can drive around the South African National Parks like the world-famous Kruger Park on your own in a hire car. A good guide and/or tracker can make a big difference to your wildlife experience in terms of what you see and learn. They’ll have plenty of great stories to share as well.
  3. The time of the year you go. This impacts on the weather and the environment. Too hot, too cold, too rainy and your experience won’t be as good as it could be. Quality of wildlife sightings depend on how lush the bush is and surprising large animals can hide.
  4. The accommodation and food has to be appropriate to your holiday environment and expectations. The menu can also be an issue as we don’t eat the game we’ve been admiring and filming.
  5. The other people on the holiday. We’re generally talking about small groups on wildlife holidays and you’re likely to be together for much of the time.
  6. What else you can do on the holiday. We’re not sunbathing by the swimming pool type of people and the luxury spa treatments that are sometimes offered don’t appeal either. During the wildlife intensive sections, we’re happy to read and catch up on sleep – you match your times to the animals and that can mean very early mornings. It’s also nice to have some history and/or culture included to yourself more of a feeling for the country you’re visiting.
in 3 – Your Strategic Positioning

Tourist Trap Restaurant Model Of Profits

According to one survey 60% of British holidays makers have been ripped off by a tourist trap restaurant with bad food, bad service and a lousy experience. I am amazed it’s not more and I think it shows the low level of expectations we have.

I’m not encouraging it as a way to make money (because I believe in the value of happy customers who come back to buy again) but I do think it’s an interesting model.

First it is “differentiation by where”.

The attraction is a convenient location in a high traffic area popular with tourists (i.e. naive customers who don’t have the knowledge and experience of buying regularly).

If you’ve been to any popular tourist destination, you’ll see the restaurants lined up one next to another.

Each is possibly a tourist trap restaurant compared to those in the back-streets which, if they are good, will be full of locals.

Of course individually the tourist trap restaurants aren’t differentiated by location but often they are so busy, they don’t need to be. One can be as mediocre as the next.

Imagine you run such a business.

You’re selling to customers who won’t be around for long, with little local knowledge and what they have is based on comparing restaurants in the same location.

Prices are visible.

Popularity is visible – and low price may attract while high price repels.

Food quality and service is not visible – the tourists are on holiday and want to have a good time and cheapish plonk may have dulled their senses.

You’ve got a choice.

Pay more the ingredients, take longer to cook them with care and hire more, nice waiters – the result is that you have higher costs than your competitors.

Or cut back on the quality of ingredients and take little time or trouble on the preparation- and have lower costs and better profit margins.

Unfortunately the tourist trap model of profits makes economic sense which is why it prospers.

Partly the problem is the tourists themselves who go to these restaurants. They can be described as convenience buyers – not particularly interested in the quality of the experience or the price. They just want to have a meal and get on with their holiday – and eating in front of a famous landmark or site gives them something to remember, even if the food is lousy. And most won’t complain.

It doesn’t have to be like that.

Last April we had seven nights in Majorca staying B&B at a nice hotel.

The first night, tired from our journey, we ate at the hotel – and sadly it can only be classed as a tourist trap.

The price was reasonable but the food and the atmosphere left a lot to be desired.

Next day we took to the back-streets, reading every menu we could find.

And we found two good places.

One close to the hotel and one a long walk away but it was along the seafront and past the shops so it was an interesting jaunt.

We ate at the first place, two nights and at the other three nights. The food (at the restaurant that was the furthest away) was excellent and the atmosphere (inside or out) was great. In a week we became regulars, and we spent much more than we would have if we stayed at the hotel.

The place was always packed, with locals and people who visited the resort regularly with the odd lucky newcomer. It reaped the rewards of being exactly what it was – an excellent restaurant where the food and the experience mattered much more than the location.

The first (the one closest to the hotel and the strip of tourists trap restaurants) struggled. We gave a little inner cheer each time a new group came in but unfortunately it didn’t happy very often. The resort was quiet – it was the week after the Iceland volcano stopped flights in Northern Europe – and people weren’t being forced out of the convenience of eating in the tourist traps.

I understand the desire to avoid the tourist trap model of profits but this restaurant needed extra ways to increase awareness of it (flyers in the hotels, perhaps a free dessert offer if you buy a main course) or it needed a way to communicate the quality of the food (reviews or an imaginative menu in sexy food language – think Marks & Spencer’s  TV Food advertisements)

We tried one other place, a little Italian restaurant right by the sea but a little distance away from the main tourist trap restaurants. It looked nice but disappointed.

Is it just restaurants who can use the tourist trap model of profits?


It’s open to any business which is:

  • Selling to inexperienced customers with very limited knowledge of what’s available
  • Selling to customers who are time pressed or lazy
  • Selling products or services which cannot be judged before consumption

All you have to do is to be visible and price competitive. Convenience buyers will just buy what’s easiest.

Location works for tourist trap restaurants but regular promotion works for other businesses – and can even build up awareness of a brand which gradually becomes a preference (we like what we know).

Location doesn’t even have to be physical but on the Internet.

Sometimes it is better to get away from page one of Google – the seafront – to pages two and three – the back-streets.

Of course quality shouldn’t be terrible.

A really bad experience creates complaints and a lot of negative words on social media and the review websites.

Just disappointing.

It’s not the way I’d want to run my business – I like the model used by my three time visit restaurant in Majorca where I will definitely be returning if we got back to the resort. In fact, it’s a big reason to go back. Sadly I don’t expect the other place to survive.

But the tourist trap model of profit can be successful.

You have seen how many places serve indifferent, unimaginative food in popular locations for the proof to be before your own eyes.

What do you think?

in 3 – Your Strategic Positioning

Local Food Is Not So Local

“Where” is one of the 7 big questions of business success which helps to differentiate one business from another but it seems that it is being abused by some food producers.

It usually refers to where you are based which may pass on convenience advantages but it can also be a mark of quality. Think German cars, Swiss watches and French wine.

More than 30 per cent of food products claimed to be local, either weren’t local or couldn’t be proven to be local according to a Local Government Regulation investigation.

It found Somerset butter from Scotland, Welsh lamb from New Zealand and Devon ham from Denmark.

Full inspections revealed that at least 18 per cent of the claims were undoubtedly false with a further 14 per cent unable to be confirmed and therefore assumed false.

It seems that part of the problem is that there is no agreed definition of what local means so the local beef you see in restaurants or supermarkets could have come from much further away than you think.

in 3 – Your Strategic Positioning