When Your Unique Position Becomes Generic

Years ago, back when it was fun to sell cars, I put together a radio advertising campaign for an Oregon Mitsubishi dealer. The hook was “I’ll buy your gas for a year”. Basically, if you bought a new Mitsubishi, you got a $500 gas card included with the purchase.

As I write these words now, it seems really weak. I’ve seen hundreds of gas card promotions in the last few years. But back then, we were the first dealer in town to make the offer, and customers poured in to take advantage of it. The customers were happy, and my guy was the #1 Mitsubishi dealer on the west coast.

Then his arch-rival in Vancouver started making the same offer, followed by another Mitsu store in Portland. Then a Volkswagen dealer got into the act, and two months later, the unique had become generic.

I was reminded of this when I read the Church of the Customer post on Whole Foods. Whole Foods built its business on organic products. Now that organic has gone mainstream, the grocer is suffering.

What do you do when your special idea becomes commonplace? You find a new niche. Check out Jackie Huba’s suggestion by clicking on the link above.


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One thought on “When Your Unique Position Becomes Generic

  1. Hi Phil, Great post. Like your stuff.

    Here are a couple of my thoughts:

    If you are #1 in your market, you don’t find another niche, you attack yourself. Pretend you are a company wanting to knock you down a peg in market share and build a strategy to do this. Then implement those changes yourself before you competitors do, thus creating a moving target.

    Otherwise, you are right, you might need to bug out and find another niche. I had some ideas to promote autos:

    “Reduce Foreign Oil Dependence: Buy our cars!”
    and then promptly provide them a tire pressure gage at time of signing.


    “Portland Creates New Hybrid Model: Buy one today” and then stick one of those solar battery chargers on the dash and plug it into the cigarette lighter (which I keep wondering why they still allow those things to be put in cars?)

    Just having some fun. Good Hunting.