The Three Types of Companies: Biggest, Better, and Different

I want to share with you, I’ve found there are only three types of companies. Once you understand the three variations, you’ll be a better consumer, marketer, or leader.
I take a lot of briefings from companies, in fact, hundreds every year. I also meet with many different corporations who are our clients for longer term engagements and have found a clear pattern in just about every industry. In fact this doesn’t just apply to the brand, but also the specific products within a market. And deep down, when you look carefully, you’ll find this applies to siblings too.
The Three Types of Companies:
1) Biggest.
This company or product, will always make the claim they are the biggest, largest, have the most customers. You’ve heard of how McDonalds’ has served billions of Hamburgers, or how Microsoft has sold the most software licenses, or how Ford was the first auto manufacture, or Coke is the top beverage brand on the planet.. You’ll also know these companies as they’ll tout their rankings on Fortune 100, or financial growth. Often, these companies are the standard, and all others measure up to them, “We are the largest, the first, the wealthiest”. We often find these products fit the masses, but may lack in other areas such as specialization or variety.
2) Better.
This company or product, is locked in a second place position against Biggest. For example, you’ve heard of how Burger King offers variety of their menu, or how Dell offered the customized on the web products over 10 years ago, or how Toyota challenge big cards during the gas crises decades ago, or how Pepsi wants you to take their taste challenge. They will differentiate by making their products better than the competitors, by changing variety, pricing, or customization, “We’re better than the other guys, who can’t serve everyone’s needs”. We often find these companies to offer premium alternatives, suiting for more than mainstream appetite.
3) Different.
This company or product will distinctly position themselves as an alternative to the the first two by offering a complete different option. Perhaps you’ve tried In-N-Out Burger, or seen how Apple wants you to think different with their products, or how Mini wants you to drive their unique cars, or how 7up positioned themselves as the UnCola. They will attack the primary model of the first two, and suggest they are only for a certain type of buyer. “be different, stand out, and we’re only for distinguished tastes”. These companies have specific offerings, that buck the trend, and will go out of their way to stand apart.
A few rules of the road: It goes without saving that multiple companies and products can all fit in one category, we often see multiple companies claiming to be the top dog. And also we should expect to see companies traverse these three different categories, and all of that is normal.
Now that you know the three types of companies, you can start to be a better buyer, marketer, and leader. Know where they fit in the your selection process, and know where you fit between Biggest, Better, and Different. Source: Jeremiah Owyang / SF, Silicon Valley


If you want to attract visitors to your site then there are a couple of ways of doing this. Among the most popular and effective ones are SEO and PPC. Which one is better?
I have been thinking about this issue for a while and have come up with a few points to try and help me reach a final decision. Let’s take a look.

The Cost

PPC stands for Pay Per Click. As the name suggests, you pay for every time someone clicks on your ad and gets directed to your site. In theory this means that the more visitors you receive the more you pay. Anyone who is completely confident of converting the majority of their visitors into paying customers should get big benefits out of this. SEO is all about search engine optimization and the price you pay is generally not related to the results you get. You will be paying for a package which involves carrying out the tasks necessary to get you up the search engine rankings. However, you are not paying for the results as such but rather for the process.

The Results

In SEO the results you see will really depend upon how competitive a market you are operating in. For instance, if you are up against some big hitting sites then you are going to have to plug away for a while before getting into a good position on the rankings. On the other hand, if the competition is pretty puny then you should sweep them aside more easily. PPC is a different kettle of fish, as you aren’t really battling it out to get more visibility; you are paying for it. You would think that this means that the results are more guaranteed but I have a spanner to throw in the works. With SEO the people who find you are those who are looking for you. With PPC you might get a lot of idle clickers reaching your site. If your page is SEO optimized for your keywords and it has been done professionally then you know exactly what your visitors have typed in as their searches. With PPC you are attracting visitors who were maybe looking at something completely different but saw your advert and decided to have a look at it. Therefore, they probably have less intention of buying something when they enter your site.

The Long Term Sustainability

The final point I want to consider is which of these two methods is better in the long run. This is another close call and again comes down to the website’s own position in the overall market. For example, if I have a site which doesn’t have particularly strong competition then I can run some SEO work for a few months and blitz my way to the top of the rankings. If the rival sites don’t wake up then I can carry on in my lofty position with little or no maintenance work or costs. With the PPC approach you only get what you pay for. If you stop doing it you stop getting visitors from it, as simple as that.


This means that I have to go with SEO here, as it is something which is designed specifically to give your site visibility on an ongoing basis. Getting business from organic searches seems to me like the most natural and long term solution to finding your next generation of customers.


5 Great Content Strategy Resources

Content strategy is a topic that I find myself talking about with people more and more lately through my job as Manager of Communications, Web Content and Community at Connecting Up. Through these conversations, I get asked questions like: “So, what is it?”, “What should be part of a content strategy?”, and “How do we get one for our organisation?”
So, I keep saying that I’d blog about everything I know about content strategy (Mind you, I don’t know everything about it! I’m still learning a lot. And mostly, learning on the job.). But, like many things on my “To Blog” list, it keeps getting pushed down the list.
But, today, during one of my regular content meetings*, I was reminded that I haven’t really shared much of what I know about something that I’ve been doing for years. You see, my basic training on content strategy has officially started in 2000, when I joined About.com as a Guide for Language Arts for Kids. And again, when I rejoined them in 2004 as the first Guide to Web Logs. In-between 2000 and now, I’ve planned and created dozens of sites, including a whole network of blogs.
So, after over a decade of working on content strategy, and having the word ‘content’ in my official job title nowadays, I figured it may be time to start sharing. And, I’d like to start off my content strategy sharing by pointing you to five of my favourite resources (there’s more, but let’s stick to 5 for now):
1. The Elements of Content Strategy by Erin Kissane – I really liked the simplicity and brevity of this book. It’s a great little “starter” book for anyone thinking of understanding content strategy better. It doesn’t have a lot of how tos/templates on getting a content strategy up and running, but it’s a good way to get an overview of the topic without feeling overwhelmed.
2. Content Strategy for the Web by Kristina Halvorson – This book is both an overview and an in-depth look on content strategy. It has some really great insights on why there is a need to have one, and what may be the necessary steps to create one. It’s more comprehensive than “Elements…” so it may be overwhelming for people who are still trying to get their heads around content strategy. But, if information overload doesn’t put you off, then this book is definitely a good resource to work with.
3. The Web Content Strategist’s Bible: The Complete Guide To A New And Lucrative Career For Writers Of All Kinds by Richard Sheffield – Another great, comprehensive resource on content strategy. Some useful insights on different aspects of content development, such as design, matrix, and even translation.
4. Chief Content Officer – This is a print and/or digital for content specialists. While it’s not primarily on content strategy, the articles in this quarterly publication are very useful for anyone interested in the topic. There’s an Australian version and a U.S. version, I believe. The one linked here is the Australian version. Oh, and as a bonus, I just found out that Contents Magazine is also coming out soon, which is a publication on content strategy and related topics.
5. Content Strategy Group on LinkedIn – Moving on from reading material, I thought I’d also share a network/community resource. On this front, I highly recommend the Content Strategy Group on LinkedIn. There isn’t a lot of activity, but I always find something useful in the discussions and resource sharing within the group. So, it’s definitely an online community of content strategists that’s worth connecting with.

Social Media and Real Estate

Social media is where people immediately go to for recommendations for anything and everything, from eateries to vacation spots to even real estate. As a service-oriented business predicated on spheres of influences, social media is more relevant than ever for this industry. Real estate is all about referrals and who you know...which, if you think about it, is what social media is all about.

Information overload is what most people feel when researching real estate. It's overwhelming the amount of data available on the internet. Some of it is junk, some of it is advertising, and a lot of it is just wrong. People are starved to get quality reliable information they can trust. So consumers gravitate to sites and communities that shared their interests and points of views. Sites like Yelp, Facebook, Branch Out, Twitter exploded because they satisfied this need. Knowing what their peers think and find interesting helps shape a consumer's opinion. People are not looking for just info anymore, they are looking for recommendations. It's the power of feedback. The testament of a testimonial. It helps them edit down their choices.

Real estate used to be a private transaction between a Realtor and client. However, it is increasingly now a shared social experience for a community. Open house visitors upload photos of what they saw, buyers blog about their inspection, sellers search Twitter streams for mentions of their house, agents get rated online. Today's buyers and sellers rely heavily on social media. Yet this is lost on many of my colleagues who cling to an era when agents were the gatekeepers of info. Tsk tsk.

So, next time you interview a real estate agent, ask them:

1. What are your strategies for marketing my property?
If they just mention fliers, open houses and website, tell them this ain’t the 1990’s! If they cite social media as part of their plan, ensure they really possess the social media savoir faire to meet your needs. (ie, Posting once a month on their facebook business page doesn't cut it. They obviously have a facebook page for the sake of having a facebook page, which is useless to you as a client).

2. How big is your social following?
If an agent has 10,000 twitter followers who hang on to their every word about real estate, that is 20,000 eyeballs on your listing. That’s more exposure than any flyer or open house will get you. One tweet to plug your home and it is on the radar of thousands of people.

3. Who follows you and how engaged are they?
Perhaps your agent's online tribe isn't the largest, but it may be an active targeted demographic. It’s a good sign when local businesses, past clients and even other real estate professionals are fans of a Realtor. (You can tell a lot about how engaged an agent is by reading their online chatter with other followers.) These people who have “liked” the agent’s page actively chose to read what that agent posts. They clearly expressed an interest in your agents business and want to keep tabs on their local market. With any luck, they will share/viralize your property to their sphere as well!

Bottom line: The traditionally stodgy real estate industry is finally catching on that social media can't be ignored. An agent with strong social media savvy can command a lot of attention towards your house for sale. The more people who are aware of your listing, the more likely someone will write an offer. In this market, a seller can not afford to lose out on any marketing edge, especially when Gen X/Y and Millenials are driving the market now. And guess what, they live on social media. Select your agent representation accordingly.

Editor's note: the following is a guest post by Herman Chan.