(Time to read this Blog is about 2 minutes)

Before we get to the main topic, here are a few things to get you thinking:

  1. My Quote of the week:

“All businesses sell stuff….great businesses are on a mission to improve the human condition in some significant way.  What ‘mission’ is your business on?  What extraordinary outcomes are you committed to for your customers, your team, your community, for ‘humanity’…and for your bottom line?”

…Donald Cooper.

  1. Quick Biz Tip:   When business partners, or a family business, lack clarity and agreement, or don’t get along, one of 3 things generally happens.

1. They can’t agree, so they do nothing. The business grinds to a halt and slowly dies.

2. They compromise on every key decision, settle on some watered-down course of action that makes the business boring, mediocre and uncompetitive, until it eventually dies.

3. The partners go on the alternating, “It’s my turn to get my way, so were doing it my way!” It doesn’t matter whose idea is best for the business, “It’s my turn!”  And the business eventually dies.

Some people just shouldn’t be in business together.  They’re not a good fit and it will end badly.  Much of my Biz Coaching is in sorting this stuff out, before it’s too late.  

If you’re a partnership or family business, take a few minutes to have each partner or active family member, plus a few of your key ‘non-partner or non-family managers’, complete my insightful Biz Tool #A-11:  ‘The Partnership & Family Business Audit Sheet.  Click here to download.

If you’d like help interpreting the results, I’m easy to find at donald@donaldcooper.com.

  1. Word-of-mouth from trusted friends still wins.   In spite of all the hype about social media and lifestyle influencers, it appears that good old ‘word-of-mouth referrals from trusted friends’ still wins.

In a recent survey of 40,000 people, 3 interesting facts came to light:

1. Canadians are 5 to 6 times more likely to trust recommendations from people they know than text, banner or social media ads.

2. 41% of Canadians don’t trust the advertising they see or hear.

3. Just 23% of Canadians trust endorsements from social media ‘influencers’, athletes or celebrities.

So, what extraordinary customer service, value and experiences do you consistently and joyfully deliver to deserve ‘word-of-mouth’ referrals from your ‘raving fans’?


Now, to this week’s important topic:

How can you stand out by standing up?

Whatever product or service you sell, your market is over-served and under-differentiated.  You need to stand out!  One of the most effective ways to do this is to take a stand on something that matters to your target customers.

My father used to say, “If you don’t stand for something…you’ll fall for anything!”  What do you ‘stand for’ that will differentiate your business, make powerful connections with your target customers and get you talked about, texted and tweeted about?

For example, long before it became illegal for Pharmacies in Ontario to sell tobacco products, some gutsy pharmacists took a stand and removed all tobacco products from their stores. They said, “We’re in the healthcare business and tobacco addiction is one of this country’s biggest healthcare problems.  We will be part of the solution…not part of the problem.”

That resonated with many consumers who went out of their way to do business with these pharmacies who gave up a revenue stream to support a principle.

Next example.  All-season vehicle tires are a bad compromise.  They’re not great summer tires and they’re not very effective in winter weather.  One tire expert told me that the worst winter tires are 10 times more effective than all-season tires. 

So, how could a tire store stand out in their crowded and undifferentiated marketplace?  They could simply refuse to sell all-season tires…and then explain why and back it up with facts. That’s gutsy, but it could be very effective.  They’d probably get a lot of media attention and, along with it, a ton of credibility.  How could you help your customers make wise choices by being their ‘Caring Coach’?  The world needs more courageous and helpful truth-sayers.

Some years ago, as a retailer of ladies’ fashions, we took gutsy and courageous stands on several issues.  We were the first (and only) fashion store in the world to invite women to “Please take as many items in the change room as you wish.”  Women hated the ‘Limit 3 items in the change rooms.’ signs that were in every other fashion store.

Then, we didn’t ‘mark up to mark down’.  This is the deceptive and illegal practice used by many stores to create fake savings.  For example, they’d buy an item for $13, have it ticketed at $54.95 and then immediately mark it down to ‘Special Sale…$34.95’.  Not only did we NOT do that, we called out our competitors out this deceptive practice and promised never to do it. Customers loved us for being straight with them.  

The prevailing wisdom in fashion retail at the time was that, to succeed, your sales staff had to be on commission.  But we wanted our staff to be helpful, not pushy. So, we put a big sign at the front door saying, “Our staff are not on commission.  They treat you this well because they love what they do!”    And then, we hired joyful people and treated them wonderfully.

We also had electric massage chairs for husbands and boyfriends, a $54,000 pirate ship play area for kids, free diapers, wipes and cream for babies, and 7 kinds of free beverages for everybody.  All gutsy acts of kindness that nobody else offered. 

Our policy was simple, “No games, no tricks, no lies!”  We stood out, we got talked about, women drove up to 3 hours to shop with us, we achieved sales per square foot 3 times the national average…and we were voted Canada’s Outstanding Innovative Retailer by the Retail Council of Canada.   

So, what will you stand up for…and how will that help you stand out?


That’s it for this week…

Stay safe…live brilliantly!       

Donald Cooper 


Donald Cooper speaks and coaches internationally on management, marketing, and profitability.  He can be reached by email at donald@donaldcooper.com in Toronto, Canada.

One Response to How can you stand out by standing up?
  1. Comment
    Hey Don,
    do you have any worksheets for
    “what will you stand up for…and how will that help you stand out?”
    I am in a service health care industry of Physiotherapy and for a long time we have focussed on our clients’ experience from when the arrive to when they leave, but was wondering if you had different categories of ways to stand out? We have always focussed on high quality work, not high volume work like some of our competitors.
    Open to your thoughts.
    Nose Creek Physiotherapy.


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