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The opposite test: how to tell if your business is worth talking about

The way most businesses talk about their advantages is so boring. How many companies are “the best”, “faster”, “biggest”, “most trusted”, and so on? These vague adjectives that we use to describe our businesses are meaningless and boring to customers, and they give no good reason to actually prefer your brand over another.

If you’d like to craft a better differentiator, one that may even affect what you do and how you do it, then ask yourself: Are any of your competitors doing the opposite of what you claim to be doing?

The Hans Brinker Budget Hotel in Amsterdam passes this test with flying colours. While most other hotels try to convince customers about their “commitment to excellence” or “warm hospitality”, the Hans Brinker Hotel actually prides itself on their low standards and indifference, with slogans like “proudly disappointing travellers for forty years”.

Hans Briker Budget Hotel

It’s taken the opposite stance to most of their competitors, and as a result is immediately remarkable. It is consistently filled with people who want to stay at “the world’s worst hotel”, just for the story. This, my friends, is a proper differentiator!

Another example, out of many I could use, is Twitter. Twitter differentiated itself from other publishing platforms and social networks by offering the most limited space to express yourself on the web. For every space with more features, Twitter could easily pass the Opposite Test by claiming the least features.

So, when you next come to describing your business, ask yourself: Who is doing the opposite of this? If you can clearly identify between one and three things that you are clearly different or opposite in, then you probably have a product or business worth talking about.

This article by Dave Duarte originally appeared on his blog and is republished with permission.

Author Bio

Dave Duarte
Dave Duarte works with organizations globally to help them adapt to digitally driven change. He is Managing Director of the Ogilvy Digital Marketing Academy, which provides digital marketing education for one of the world's largest advertising groups. He is also founding partner in Huddlemind, an educational software company that has been... More

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