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Be Different, not Better: Lessons from the pharmacy counter

Be different instead of (or, more accurately, as well as) better, because better is easier to copy and stands out less in your customers’ minds.

Being different doesn’t have to be highly imaginative and creative. Sometimes the most different things come with a slap to your own head and a ‘Duh: why didn’t anyone else do that before?’ feeling. Here’s one:

At most pharmacy/chemists counters, you have a public conversation, admittedly in a lowered voice usually, while other people waiting in line behind you either conspicuously look the other way or strain their ears to hear, depending on their level of discretion or nosiness.

At London Drugs (ironically not in London at all, but in the US) the pharmacist takes you into a private room to discuss the prescription you are getting filled. And why not? Does the doctor have a public conversation with you in front of other patients in the waiting room when you go to the doctor? Of course not. It’s private.

What can you do to stand out in your customers’ minds by being conspicuously different, in a way that is driven by customer need, of course. Your best starting point for this kind of thinking is, as Richard Branson always says, to be the customer yourself and think of what annoys you about current industry practise in your sector. Then change it.

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