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It Pays to be Different

By Thomas J. Stanley on Aug 6th, 2013 in Mentor's Corner

The next time you visit the Gettysburg Battlefield stop by the National Museum.  It is near the high water mark of Pickett’s ill-fated charge.  Inside the museum you will find a long set of glass cases.  They are filled with numerous clusters of lead bullets, grape shot, and cannonballs all which met/fused together in mid air during the battle.   These relics give testimony to the ferocity and intensity of what took place 150 years ago.   . . . so many projectiles as to cloud a sunny day . . . . 


There is a certain analogy between the slaughter of Pickett’s troops and the frequent failure of all out mass marketing of “me too” products today.  Whether in marketing or in war, winners tend to do things differently. They often target untapped segments/unguarded positions and develop unique products/strategic thrusts.  Such products garner both high price points and customer loyalty.  Hello, Apple, Starbucks, etc.


Here is an example of the “it pays to be different” strategy.   I once inherited a hunting knife.  But as I discovered it was not just a hunting knife!  It was a “Randall made” knife, hand forged from high grade steel.  Along with the knife was a post card stamped “Orlando, Florida, May 18, 1960.”  The post card stated,


Thank you for your nice order for #5 Camp and Trail knife.  Shipment on or about June 2, 1960.  I regret that we cannot hand craft your order sooner and maintain our standards of quality and ask your indulgence in this shipping date . . . .  Sincerely, W.D. Randall, Jr. (hand-signed)


I understand that my knife originally cost $40; today it’s $360 if you buy it directly from Randall.  I thought that this item might make a nice gift for a friend or two.  But according to Randall’s website there is over a four year waiting period for its knives! 


Originally Mr. Randall’s hand made knives were purchased by a few soldiers heading into combat in WWII.  They gave it the highest ratings for durability, longevity of its edge, often a lifesaver.  Once the press picked up this story demand always exceeded supply.


Today some others make handmade knives of high quality, but they can never duplicate the 75 year legacy that Randall knives earned.

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