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Differentiation Examples

Eddie Stobart: A Transport Company With Personality

It’s many years ago since I last had to buy transport services but I was sad to hear of the death of Eddie Stobart on Thursday March 31, 2011.

Eddie Stobart (the company) has become an iconic firm for one simple reason – every cab was given a women’s name.

I guess this is an unusual twist on “differentiation by who”.

The company has its own  fan club with 25,000 members and spotters collect the names of the cabs they’ve seen. The first truck was named after the sixties model Twiggy.

There were other differences too – the trucks were clean and the drivers wear ties. Eddie Stobart‘s is a company to be proud of.

From the outside, it doesn’t seem much to give each cab a name but it was a bit of magic that created the public’s attention – and built up probably the UK’s only nationally known transport company.  It would be an interesting exercise to stop people in the street and ask them to name a transport company and see how many people say Eddie Stobart.

Did this create buyer preference?

Maybe not but I bet it got the Eddie Stobart company into a lot of buying situations when it would otherwise have been treated as just another transport company.

And to win the game, you have to be in it in the first place.

Here’s an interesting article from the BBC – How Did Eddie Stobart Become So Famous

The challenge is how you can take such a simple idea as girls names on a truck and use it to give your business personality in a way that makes it memorable.

in 3 – Your Strategic Positioning

What Can Ted Nugent Teach You About Personal Branding?

I adore classic rock music from the late sixties and the seventies and Ted Nugent is one of the stars that burst onto the scenes in the mid seventies when I started liking my music loud and heavy.

Differentiation By Who

Although I’m currently working with a young soul singer in the UK who has released one album so far to develop a more distinctive sound, image and general presence, you don’t have to want to be a rock or pop star to benefit from developing a strong personal brand.

It’s what I call differentiation by who.

I see it in the world of business advice and self help but it’s also there with celebrity cooks who can build chains of restaurants based on personal celebrity.

In fact, differentiation by who in terms of personal branding is open to any business which can build a strong element of “know, like and trust” with the business owner or key staff members.

Ted Nugent Is A Great Example Of A Personal Brand

According to his website www.tednugent.com

“In the past 50 years, Ted Nugent has done things that most musicians could only ever dream of, including setting attendance records at venues worldwide in 2005 and ’06, was the top grossing act in the world in 1977, ’78 & ’79, and has sold over 30 million records worldwide.”

The Void In the Hard Rock World

In the mid seventies the big British hard rock bands of the early seventies were in decline – Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Black Sabbath had all peaked and while punk rock was the “in thing” in 1977 – there was a gap for someone to fill.

That someone was Ted Nugent with his blockbusting first three albums – Ted Nugent, Free For All and Cat Scratch Fever along with other acts like Kiss who are also worth talking about in terms of differentiation.

Ted Nugent – The Wild Man Of Rock’n’Roll

I always saw Ted Nugent as the wild man of rock’n’roll but his main nicknames were:

  • The Detroit Madman
  • The Motor City Mad Man
  • The Nuge

I think it’s time for an example of why – this is Stranglehold from 1976.

If It’s Too Loud, You’re Too Old

That’s Ted Nugent’s music philosophy summed up in a few words and the phrase was used to promote on of his mid seventies tours.

I must admit that I turn the volume down a few notches now but his music still gives me an adrenalin rush. His typical sound was fast, heavy and raw.

He’s still a top performer now as this video of  Cat Scratch Fever shows from 2010.

Ted Nugent Had A Strong Visual Image

A key element of the Ted Nugent personal brand was how he looked.

Long hair was a hard rock requirement and facial hair was common but no one else wore animal skins and loin cloths.

Ted Nugent And His Controversial Views

Another part of his personal brand was the way he courted controversy with some views that people found offensive while others lined up in support.

  • A strong anti-drugs and anti-alcohol stance
  • Pro-guns and the right to bear arms
  • Pro-hunting – he even owns a hunting lodge according to Wikipedia. I can’t agree with him on this as I believe canned hunting is sick. I can admire the bravery of the old Maasai warrior tradition of killing a lion on his own before he can become man because I know how big lions are and I wouldn’t do it but shooting a defenceless animal that can’t escape is wrong.
  • Right wing political views

In The World Of The Bland, Ted Nugent Stands Out

You don’t have to like Ted Nugent or his music but he does create a lasting impression and stands for something.

His enduring success show that what he does works.

in 3 – Your Strategic Positioning

As I look at classic offers which have defined a business, a great way to start is with the offer  / USP which built up Domino’s Pizza since it is so often quoted as a fine example.

“Fresh hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less… or it’s free.”

There are so many reasons why this is such a great positioning statement.

Looking At The Domino’s Classic USP Using The 7 Big Questions

Let’s look through the lens of the 7 big questions of differentiation.

There’s “the what” – fresh hot pizza

There’s “the how” – delivered – you don’t have to make any effort

There’s “the where” – to your door

There’s the when – in 30 minutes or less

And finally we return to “the what” – the risk reversal of “or it’s free”.

The Domino’s Classic USP Template

You can see a template for crafting these positioning statements here in the Dominos example.

[what] [how] [where] [when] [what risk reversal]

It’s also very notable for what it doesn’t say.

What The Domino’s Classic USP Doesn’t Say

The pizza may be fresh and hot – but that doesn’t sound too demanding since there’s nothing about it being delicious of made from the highest quality ingredients.

The USP doesn’t include an indication of who, either in terms of who the customer is or who the supplier/staff are a bit different from the Spearmint Rhino offer since there are many people you just wouldn’t want a lap-dance from.]

Is it marketing hype or does it need to be designed into the culture of the organisation. I think it’s the second because everything needs to be done quickly to meet the big double whammy which made the offer so successful – it’s quick and it’s guaranteed.

The Irresistible Offer Also Looks At The Domino’s USP

If you want to go deeper into the logic of crafting statements like the Dominos USP then I recommend that you read an excellent book called The Irresistible Offer by Mark Joyner.

in 3 – Your Strategic Positioning

Sex Cereal – A Breakfast Cereal To Boost Libido

I look looking for products that are new, different and innovative so when I read about Sex Cereal, I knew it had to feature in my differentiation examples.

Sex Cereal is promoted as the world’s most Passionate Cereal and the first gender-based wholefood and its promotional slogan is “big life living, fuel your fire”.

It comes in his and hers varieties.

SEXCEREAL for HIM is blended with ingredients to support testosterone.

SEXCEREAL for HER is blended with ingredients to support hormonal balance.

How I bet they wish the slogan “snap, crackle and pop” hadn’t already been taken.

In my dimensions of differentiation, this breakfast cereal comes into differentiation by what, differentiation by who and differentiation by why.

in 3 – Your Strategic Positioning

It’s not often I treat myself to a big splurge but before Christmas 2012 I bought an Irvin Flying Jacket.

I’ve wanted a leather and sheepskin flying jacket for many years. In fact many more years than I care to count.

But I didn’t know that I wanted an Irvin flying jacket until I started to research the market in detail. And as I’m interested in what creates customer preference, I was intrigued by what was happening in my mind.

Why I Wanted A Warm Leather Flying Jacket

I’ve admired flying jackets worn by other people and felt a strong pull towards having one.

Perhaps it’s because I wanted to be a pilot -and especially an RAF fighter pilot when I was young as I eagerly ready my Biggles’ books.

Perhaps it’s because I’ve seen and admired them in shops and always denied myself the pleasure of owning a flying jacket because of the high cost.

More pertinently, I get very cold and particularly in my body core. The thought of being wrapped up in leather and thick sheepskin is very appealing.

I’m not exactly what made my search with buying intent but something made me starting looking on the Internet and the more I looked and the more I read, the more I wanted a flying jacket. I knew that the winter of 2012 was going to see me buy one unless they failed the order qualifier tests.

Why I Bought An Irvin Flying Jacket

I’d started off my search expecting to pay about £300 to £350 for a leather flying jacket. That would have made it the most expensive coat I’d ever bought.

As I looked at what was offered in the market, my budget kept edging upwards. The more expensive jackets looked better and warmer and if I was going to spend a significant sum, I decided that I was going to do it properly.

Then I found the Irvin flying jacket and read the Irvin story.

That converted me from someone who wanted a flying jacket to someone who wanted an Irvin flying jacket.

I wanted the authentic article that was made for the RAF in World War 2 and what has continued to be made available to RAF pilots. And it did look great too.

The problem was that it was twice as expensive as my original budget. I was moving rapidly up the customer value curve.

They say that decisions are made emotionally and justified logically. This was an emotional purchase. I wanted an Irvin jacket but could I make a legitimate case for spending so much?

I went back to have a look at the other jackets I “liked” but they weren’t authentic. I came to see them as imitations and I didn’t want to spend £500 or more on an imitation.

Then I delved deeper into the qualifiers. I’m very tall and Irvin offered the jacket in two lengths for the body and sleeve. The longer length was the longest I could find.

I didn’t want an expensive jacket that would ride up and expose my stomach to the cold and wind but I didn’t want a long coat either. That was one of the original attractions in the flying jacket. It covered what I wanted to cover.

I was hooked.

Emotionally and logically I’d made the decision to buy an Irvin Flying Jacket if I bought any flying jacket.

But because of the cost, I wondered whether I should buy at all. Paying £350 was one thing. Paying over £650 was another.

I had my doubts but I decided that I’d wanted one for over 20 years and I decided that I deserved a treat. I was worth it.

My Irvin Flying Jacket

I love it.

When I ordered I left a note to say that I was very tall and wondered if it could be cut a little longer.

I had a phone call saying that there was some extra flexibility and I had an extra inch added to the body and sleeves.

The Irvin flying jacket is exactly what I wanted. Very warm and very stylish.

If I had settled for a lesser make, I think I would have always regretted it and if I’d met anyone wearing an Irvin, I’d have been eaten up with envy.

I’m very glad I bought it and if you want a leather and sheepskin jacket and decide to treat yourself to an Irvin, you will be too.

Irvin Flying Jackets

I’m not a pilot so I don’t fly. I do fancy a beautifully restored E Type jag to give me an excuse to wear it more often.

in 3 – Your Strategic Positioning

Grom Ice Cream – Is It The Best?

I have just come back from a week’s holiday in one of my favourite places, Viareggio on the Tuscany coat in Italy and I discovered Grom ice cream.

And what a discovery it represents because I had some of the best ice cream ever.

Rich, creamy and full of flavour.I’d love to say that there were no calories in it as well but I have to admit that after over-indulging, I am struggling to keep my belt buckled at the same hole.

I love Italy and one of the best things about it is the ice cream. So much of it is yummy.

But Grom is special and definitely worthy of a mention on my differentiation blog.

I am nervous of differentiation by being better – what my friend Ian Brodie calls vertical differentiation – because it is easy to claim, difficult to prove.  In a world where we have become increasingly sceptical buyers, claims of “the best ice cream you’ve ever tasted” aren’t seen as irresistible promises which make you want to try but hype.

Grom Ice Cream

Grom are a chain of ice cream shops that started in Italy in 2003 in Torino and they now have over thirty stores in Italy and have opened more in Malibu, New York, Osaka, Tokyo and Paris. None in the UK yet but hopefully that will happen.

Grom are dedicated to using the finest ingredients in their ice creams and even have their own farm to provide fruit.

You can learn more at the Grom website.

What Makes Grom Ice Cream So Special?

There are a lot of ice cream shops in Viareggio and as it’s a resort we go to regularly, we’ve probably tried them all.

Several things attracted us to Grom.

First, it was straight opposite our hotel, the Grand Hotel Royal and it has replaced the wedding shop that must have been there twenty years. Grom wasn’t there two years ago when we were last in Viareggio and human nature is to want to try something new.

Second, there always seemed to be a long line of Italians queuing up for their ice cream fix. We ignored it on our first day and went somewhere else we liked but by day two, the Sunday we couldn’t resist. It took us about 20 minutes to get served through no fault of the four young women serving who were working hard. It was just that busy.

I wanted Bacio – one of my regulars – and I thought I’d try Crema di Grom (with biscuit and chocolate chips) but they’d sold out of the Crema. They had the next day too which increased my determination to try it before we came home.

The Basis Of Grom Ice Cream Differentiation

It’s differentiation by what. The ice cream is superb. In some ways this is vertical integration based on being better rather than horizontal differentiation.

Looking at the website, it seems the flavours change with the month which is a great idea. I want to go to Viareggio to see the famous Carnival in February and now I want to go because Grom do Zabaione ice in the winter.

It was also differentiation by how many. The social proof of seeing so many Italians queuing up for so long was very powerful. This popularity does have a downside. We had a 15 minute wait to be served on the second visit before we adjusted our thinking to having our ice cream when it was quiet.

Grom are also strong on environmental issues, an impression I gained from the store and the website although I can’t say that influenced my choice.  My strategy canvas was dominated by the quality of the ice cream but they did lose our business several times. The first because we wanted to treat ourselves to an ice cream sundae and the second because the flavours on offer didn’t include a regular favourite.

Is Grom Ice Cream The Best?

I’ve always loved Vivoli in Florence, ever since we first discovered in over twenty years ago. I’d never seen a place with so many great flavours and so busy but its clientèle does seem to be mainly tourists. Do go there if you are in Florence, you won’t be sorry.

I also love La Sorbetteria Castiglione in Bologna which is well worth the walk away from the main tourist centre.

In some ways I prefer the image of an independent ice cream parlour than a chain. Somehow it’s more authentic to believe that the ice cream is being made in the back room but I will be looking for the Grom ice cream parlour in every town we go to in Italy.

Grom ice cream is that good.

in 3 – Your Strategic Positioning

Amazon Strategy & The Six Step Profit Formula

I love Amazon and it’s very useful to look at the Amazon strategy in relation to my Six Step Profit Formula.

Summary Of The Six Step Profit Formula

The six steps in the profit formula are:

  1. Find a starving crowd.
  2. Create an irresistible promise.
  3. Get your irresistible promise in front of the eyes and ears of your starving crowd often.
  4. Deliver on your promise with a great customer experience.
  5. Sell them a second course and then a second meal.
  6. Encourage word of mouth referrals.

How The Six Step Profit Formula Is Used In the Amazon Strategy

Step 1 – Amazon Strategy & The Starving Crowd

Amazon first started as an online book store.

The business model was new but what was sold was well established.

People love buying and reading books. As a book addict what stopped me buying more books was that my knowledge was limited to what I saw on the bookshelves on the big book stores in the UK like Waterstones. If I saw something I liked the look of, I bought it.

Step 2 – Amazon Strategy & Their Irresistible Promise

While physical stores are limited in the books they can stock on the shelves, Amazon could list every book that was published and quickly became the “biggest book store in the world”.

One quick search by title, subject or author would bring up a list of books and you’d realise that there were many more books that you could read. This is the long tail that Chris Anderson wrote about which makes selling low volume, niche products profitable when sold worldwide.

Even better, other customers of Amazon have provided reviews of the books, praising some and criticising others. This gives you confidence to try a book you haven’t had the chance to skim.

Amazon has since extended their range from books to CDs, DVDs, games, electrical equipment… in fact you can get almost anything through Amazon these days that isn’t perishable.

Step 3 – Amazon Strategy & Presenting The Promise To The Starving Crowd

According to Alexa, Amazon.com is the 15th most popular website in the world and that is just their American store. I buy from Amazon.co.uk which itself is the 127th most popular website and many other countries have their own local websites.

Amazon are one of the businesses – like Wikipedia – that dominate Internet search listings.

I usually recommend that businesses also use outreach marketing tactics but unlike many of the dotcom that crashed and burnt, Amazon didn’t waste money trying to promote the brand name. It let its customers do it for them as we’ll see in step 6.

Recently Amazon has been more active promoting the Kindle on TV and in print advertising but with the Kindle, it’s creating a market for people to read ebooks.

Step 4 – Amazon Strategy & Delivering On The Promise

I buy very regularly from Amazon and their service is excellent.

It is very easy to buy and the One Click feature makes it very fast if you don’t have to change payment cards and delivery addresses.

Products arrive when expected – or they email me to tell me there is a problem – and in good condition. If there is a problem, then Amazon put it right quickly.

The confidence in Amazon’s service helps to create word of mouth recommendations.

Technology and the development of the Internet have made Amazon’s strategy possible but it is clever business design which has powered the success.

Step 5 – Amazon Strategy To Encourage You To Buy Again

As you buy, Amazon suggests other items to buy with little bundles and extras.

It also lists books, CDs, DVDs etc that will be released soon and encourages you to pre-order with the assurance of the price promise that makes sure you get a good price.

After you’ve bought, you receive email recommendations based on your purchases. This works well if you’ve made personal purchases, not so well if you buy presents for others.

Step 6 – Amazon Strategy and Word Of Mouth Recommendations

Amazon do what they do so well that it creates plenty of word of mouth recommendations. The entire Amazon system is easy, quick, simple and very convenient with very competitive prices.

Amazon were amongst the first businesses to realise the power of affiliate marketing and thousands of websites contain links and Amazon logos which help to build the brand.

The success of Amazon as an Internet pioneer also means that it has received great PR. Amazon is the example for an e-commerce store.

What Are Your Views On The Amazon Strategy?

Recent figures show that Amazon continues to grow very quickly.

What do you think of Amazon’s strategy?

What do you think the key success factors are?

in 3 – Your Strategic Positioning, 4 – Lead Generation, 5 – Lead Conversion, 6 – Revenue Regeneration

What If All Rock Bands Sounded Like Led Zeppelin?

While Led Zeppelin aren’t my favourite rock band from the 1970s, they are such an archetypal group and widely copied.

Let’s take a look at what made Led Zeppelin special and wonder what it would be like if more Led Zeppelin soundalikes had made it big.

Led Zeppelin – Why Are They So Special?

The Led Zeppelin Band Members

The band members all had very distinct profiles:

  • Robert Plant – the sexy bare-chested lead singer in tight trousers and with the high shrieking voice.
  • Jimmy Page – the guitar hero with interest in the occult.
  • John Bonham – the hard drinking, thunderous drummer.
  • John Paul Jones – the quiet, reserved bassist and keyboard player.

Led Zeppelin The Biggest Band In the World

For much of the early seventies, Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones and The Who battled for the title of the biggest band in the world.

According to Wikipedia, Led Zeppelin are still the fourth best selling artists in the United States although they are a long way behind The Beatles.

No wonder they were such a big influence on up-and-coming band and were regularly imitated.

Top 10 Led Zeppelin Rip-Off Bands

Personally I always thought it was lazy journalism. For example, I remember reading many comments that Aerosmith sounded like Led Zep but looked like The Rolling Stones.

It’s also ironic as Led Zeppelin themselves plundered the blues heritage as they took ideas and adapted them.

What If All Rock Bands Sounded Like Led Zeppelin?

It would be so boring.

Variety is the spice of life and a pale imitation of Led Zeppelin is just that.

But we see imitation so often in business.

If something works well and proves popular, there is a huge temptation to copy it.

Too often product-markets converge into commodities where preference is driven by price since there’s little difference in what you get.

But success in rock music is different.

There are commonalities within musical genres but each successful group creates its own identity which makes it unique.

Robert Plant was born in West Bromwich, about four miles away from where I live. His big rival as a heavy rock singer Ozzy Osbourne of Black Sabbath was born in Aston, Birmingham and that’s about three miles away in the opposite direction. They were even born in the same year, 1948.

While Zeppelin and Sabbath were both pioneers of rock, their sound is very different. I can imagine some fans loving one and hating the other. Personally I preferred Deep Purple and The Who to both.

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