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Challenging Conformity in Business and in Life

by Austin McGhie

Pub Date: Oct. 5th, 2021
ISBN: 978-1-73587-313-8
Publisher: Silicon Valley Press

A marketing veteran preaches about differentiation in this guide.

McGhie, author of BRAND Is a Four Letter Word (2012) and founder of several marketing agencies, is highly qualified to write about marketing difference. In this book targeting marketers, the author first validates with research the need to be different, then discusses several forces that impede the process, and finally explores the wide variety of ways to achieve this goal in the business world. While the notion of difference is not unique, McGhie’s in-depth knowledge of the topic enables him to refer to his own considerable experience as well as cite examples accompanied by expert commentary. In Part I, the author strongly asserts that successfully creating a difference “can influence, even lead culture.” He discusses difference in a way that broadens its context. For example, he introduces the term “difference quotient” or “DQ” to characterize individuals who have a deep understanding of the importance of the quality. He also legitimately contrasts “smart difference” with “dumb difference,” noting that “any idiot can be different” when employing “difference for its own sake.” Part II is an amalgamation of “dampeners,” those people, institutions, and organizations that can kill difference. Among them, according to McGhie, are parents, educational institutions, large companies, and even marketers—“Sometimes,” writes the author, “we ourselves are the biggest dampeners of our difference.” His argument supporting this perspective is creatively intriguing. Part III is likely the most useful portion; here, McGhie illustrates three specific business scenarios for finding difference, provides a five-step process for creating a differentiated advantage, and lists 10 considerations in pursuing the strategy. This section should be particularly relevant to any manager who takes the message about differentiation to heart. The author’s marketing chops pervade the book; his observations are insightful; his experience is germane; and the examples he uses are pertinent. McGhie’s writing style is conversational yet professional, and his passion for the subject is infectious. His viewpoint on difference is all-encompassing. In the end, he writes, difference isn’t just for marketing, but also for “creating change in the larger systems, customs and ideologies that govern our lives.”

Shrewd advice any marketer would be wise to heed.