The main differentiator is YOU. No kidding.
Well, not you, the individual. Sorry.
The main differentiator I’m talking about is YOU AND everyone else you’d include as unique members of your school district “family.” (aka = your “tribe”” in 21st century entrepreneurial parlance)
And the person that recently drove this point home for me is a billionaire – the 4th richest guy in the U.K.
So with me now totally on board and strongly believing in this notion – that Chief YOU and your tribe are the critical differentiators for your school district – allow me to explain.
You see, the billionaire is Richard Branson. His highly successful Virgin Airlines is just one of the many companies he owns.
Several years ago a financial analyst critiqued the financial future of Branson’s Virgin Airlines.
In his research, the analyst correctly assessed that Virgin Airlines was in an intensely competitive business. It was in a field regulated to the max by government, tied to unpredictable political winds, forced to ride the waves of up and down economic cycles – and oh yeah, subject to the ever-switching loyalties of today’s consumer-choosers (like us).
Does the above assessment sound even vaguely familiar to you? (Please don’t say “no” and force me to rewrite the paragraph for tomorrow. Just nod your head and let’s keep a-going.)
Anyway, the financial analyst issued a not-so-positive “report card” for Virgin Airlines and concluded that its profits would decline as the competitors would begin to adapt, replicate, and steal customers away.
When Branson was asked about the analyst’s negative report, people were taken aback by what he said.
He actually agreed with the analyst for the most part.
“It’s true,” Branson said. “It’s relatively easy to copy what we do. However, I’m not concerned. It’s impossible for anyone to copy who we are. And who we are – and the spirit we bring in serving our customers – is our continual focus.”
This perspective helped me sort out some of my marketing-related thinking.
Sometimes when I consider our world of common core curriculum, standardized testing, similar grant funded programs, and our universal shared commitment to transforming education, I struggle with how to effectively differentiate my own school district. We’re kind of alike in so many ways.
Branson’s “who we are” is not “what we do” clarity helped me.
You and I both have our own “tribes” where we live and work, each with skills, talents, backgrounds, and attributes uniquely different than any other one around, anywhere.
And I think the fact that Richard Branson and I BOTH agree about this makes it all the more powerful and true.
On one side of the financial balance sheet is Branson. Way on the other side is me.
Rarely do such polar opposites reach consensus!