Don’t Just Guess, Ask Good Questions!
Is your team asking the right questions? Questions that challenge and inspire each other to learn faster and make better decisions. This week’s Good Question! can do just that. If you are trying to build a growth culture, get in the habit of asking, “how are we not different?” and level up your approach.
Charlie Cole, FTD Flowers turnaround CEO, shared this question with Sean Ellis and Ethan Garr on The Breakout Growth Podcast. He explained that to align around customer value as a company, you have to separate yourself from others. But to find that differentiation, you have to be honest about where you are not different as well.
This question helps surface what about your business is actually important to customers and prospects, forces you to honestly assess what you are not good at today, and ultimately helps you differentiate more authentically around the things your business does really well.
So jump in. Good Question! episodes are less than 4 minutes long and help you and your team improve how you approach and drive growth in your business. Feel free to share them on your Slack channels.
All right. Hey, there everyone. I am Ethan Garr, and it’s time for Good Question! Great growth teams ask the right questions to challenge and inspire each other all of the time. So each week I’m going to share one good question to help you and your team improve how you approach and drive growth in
your business. So let’s jump right into it.
This week’s good question is, “how are we not different now?” Since most of us have had the importance of differentiation in business drilled into us, our entire careers, this might sound counterintuitive. After all being different is what allows us to set ourselves apart from competitors, find our niches, and take markets. But I’ve learned that by challenging each other, to understand how you are not different, you can actually do a better job of understanding and highlighting what makes
you unique and improve how you connect with customers.
So, how are we not different is a question Charlie Cole, the turnaround CEO of FTD flowers shared with Sean Ellis and I, when we interviewed him on the breakout growth podcast. Charlie does believe that to align around customer value as a company, you have to be really clear about how
you are differentiating as a business with customer experience, being at the center of that discussion.
But he explains that while this will help, you know what you’re good at, knowing what you’re not good at might be equally as important. Thinking about how you are not different can help you hone in on what actually matters to customers, helps you better understand your Product/Market Fit, and ultimately it allows you to more authentically separate yourself from competitors and the other options your customers use to solve a problem.
So why ask this question? Ask this question so that your team can better identify the real underlying need for your product. What are the jobs to be done? If you’re selling razors as an internet subscription how sharp your blades are, probably isn’t that meaningful to users, nor is it likely a place you can really distinguish yourself. Ask this question so that you can see where you can and should look to set yourself apart. Knowing where you’re not different helps you see what makes you unique. In fact, it illuminates the contrast. “Our blades are sharp too, but because we mail them to you, you’ll never run out.” That sounds a little more compelling, right? And ask this question because it’ll help you authentically connect with your audience. Being able to honestly convey how you make your users’ lives better starts with knowing what you’re actually good at.
Charlie explains this best with his own experience at FTD. He said in the beginning, he and his team were really focused on how they were gonna make the most beautiful bouquets. But it became obvious that there was no way to actually do that. You can’t patent a bouquet and the flowers are basically all coming from the same couple of suppliers. And, ultimately the best bouquet is just a matter of someone’s opinion. That’s not how you’re going to win. So Charlie was like, “so I guess
we’re not focused on making beautiful bouquets. What an awkward conversation to have at a freaking flower company.” But eventually asking how we’re not different allowed him and his team to see how service delivery and support were places were they could create magical customer experiences and really set themselves apart from competitors.
So get in the habit of challenging each other with the question, “how are we not different?” It’s a great way to start those authentic conversations about what makes you special. It helps you put the
emphasis on the customer experience and on discovering what’s truly valuable to users. And finally, it might just help you see what you’re missing. Our aspirational vision of who we are as a business is important. But knowing what you’re not good at today may help you actually figure out what you need to get good at tomorrow.
Well look, we like to keep these things short and that’s all the time we’ve got. So, thanks everyone for tuning in. I am Ethan Gar, and I’ll be back again next week with another episode of good questions. Hope you’ve enjoyed it. And if you did, please follow me on LinkedIn. I love sharing actionable insights to help you and your team accelerate growth. See you next week.
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