Has the term “commodity” ever been used to describe what it is you sell? Have your customers said in no uncertain terms “I get get the same thing down the street for less?” Or how about your sales team, have they come to believe that the only way they “can sell this stuff” is if you management, get them a better product at a cheaper price?
If any of these resonate with you, you’ve found yourself in commoditized hell.
As our guest Don McNeeley, President and CEO of Chicago Tube and Iron (CTI) demonstrates in this episode, over time every company and every industry will go from selling a differentiated product to a commoditized product. And then … margins compress.
I think we just captured the story of many distributors. Many businesses.
So what must we do?
The desk plaque on IBM founder Thomas Watson’s desk that read “Think” comes to mind.
And Don McNeeley is one of the better thinkers when it comes to constant innovation to address head on the commoditization of his business. He blends the best academic research and understanding from his work teaching at Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering and the reality of leading a business that sells and distributes what many consider commoditized tubing, pipe and bar.
But CTI is anything but commoditized. In this episode I discuss with Don the foundational root causes of commoditization and how every leader in distribution can and must put the customer at the center of their innovation efforts to premeditate your next iteration of differentiation.
In this 40 minute episode Don and I discuss:
- Why many businesses are trapped in a world of sameness
- The root cause of commoditization
- The six points of differentiation
- Why its better to be different than better
- Why faster trumps bigger
- How to put the customer at the center of innovation
- The importance of controlling your brands narrative
- 4 stages of brand awareness
- Why the customer is not always right
- Developing partnerships with customers
The Show Notes
- Don McNeeley Bio: Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering
- Chicago Tube and Iron
- Northwestern University McCormick School of Engineering
- Articles Written By Don McNeeley at The Wholesaler
- Inflection Point Definition on Investopedia
- INNOVATE! How Successful Distributors Lead Change In Disruptive Times
- Dirk Beveridge Speaking
- UnleashWD Innovation Summit
Other Episodes In The 5 Part Don McNeeley Podcast Series
- Episode 1 – Points of Inflection and 100 Years of Continuous Profitability
- Episode 2 – Capitalism, Country, Culture and Your Life’s Work
- Episode 4 – Business Model: November 16th
- Episode 5 – Transformative Leadership: November 30th
Links will be provided with each episode broadcast.
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