Our friends and colleagues at Rowboat Media posted an interesting blog today about avoiding the commodity trap. It’s a good read, and not just for digital agencies, but for every kind of business. The main points they make are:
- If what you sell is commodity-like, you better add goodies onto your stuff so it looks like a better deal
- No matter what kind of thing you make, you must take action to be sure you’re doing everything you can to tell the world about what you do
- If you have the goods and the guts, don’t compete at all on price, and don’t be a commodity at all- rather, focus on quality and differentiation (a theme we touch on quite a lot around here)
- Make sure you explain why what you make is better than the commodity-like competition
We’ve talked about how competing solely on price is not something any business (in any sector) can sustain. Sure, you might undercut the competition today, but you’ll be undercut tomorrow. Soon you find that your hard costs can’t be covered, and your business goes under.
And while I absolutely agree with everything Rowboat’s saying, I find myself gravitating towards their third point, making sure that everything we create is special and cannot be replaced by a commodity, that it comes out at an extremely high quality, and is easily differentiated from the competition. We decided long ago to not be an assembly-line driven, commodity shop.
I’d like to claim that it was an astute business sense that led us to that decision, but really a big part of why we chose that path for PatrickOrtman, Inc. was simply that it’s far more fun to create really cool stuff that truly helps our clients succeed than to go in half- hearted and create crap.