santa-christmas-naughty-nice-bookMarketing firms will tell their customers how important it is to differentiate themselves from their competitors, but to truly be seen by their target markets today, differentiation is not enough. They need to make a difference.

This Christmas Kildonan Place, one of Winnipeg’s major shopping malls, made a difference. Like its competitors Kildonan Place featured photo sittings with Santa Claus. Unlike its competitors however Kildonan Place invited Winnipeg shoppers to have their pictures taken with Santa … FREE.

For decades shoppers had happily perched their tortured toddlers on Santa’s knee to have their annual portraits captured for posterity and, as happily, opened their wallets. Paying for Santa pictures had been as much a part of Christmas tradition as Santa himself. Then suddenly, without warning Kildonan Place did the unthinkable. It made a difference and out maneuvered its competitors.

What does ‘making a difference’ mean in your industry? What have customers in your industry blindly accepted? What is the first thing buyers would change about the way your industry does business? What sacred cows has your company/market/industry blindly paid homage to? What altruistic discipline could your company embrace that would alter the face of business as your industry knows it?

Be warned. Making a difference is not for the risk averse, it can be frightening. It’s what separates profit from loss, and it’s what separates leaders from followers. Anyone can differentiate. Few make a difference.