“Engage people with what they expect, it is what they are able to discern and confirms their projections. It settles them into predictable patterns of response, occupying their minds while you wait for the extraordinary moment – that which they cannot anticipate” This Sun Tzu reference about the art of war rings equally true in the field of commerce.

In business there appears to be safety in the “me too” model where all competitors broadly offer the same customer experience with the differentiator increasingly around price. There is a complacency that competitors will continue to settle into predictable pattern. This means that a business that plans for that extraordinary moment where they deliver something totally unexpected to the market will have great competitive advantage. Simples, eh?

Well, not really. Maintaining the advantage in business means a continual focus on the extraordinary. It is not like war where there can be one moment that determines winners and losers. The Meercat for comparethemarket.com is a pertinent example. It was a marketing triumph with undoubted first mover advantage. People began buying insurance for the toy, not the value or price of the product. Inevitably though, competitors have followed and we now have Brian from confused.com…

To be different and better in business you need to be prepared for continual internal challenge, reinvention, and change. For a company to deliver a product, service or a marketing campaign that the competition cannot anticipate means stepping out of the comfort of the “me too” arena. It takes courage and vision. In this digital age, it needs great technology – but first and foremost it needs great people. Delivering extraordinary moments starts with extraordinary leaders.