The Trend Report Podcast

Episode 140: 10 to Win: Standing Out to Succeed

Sid Meadows

Hey friend, welcome to the Trend Report. Thanks for joining me today for another conversation with just you and me. I'm Sid Meadows and I'm a business leader, coach and a consultant and a longtime student of the office furniture industry, and in this podcast we have powerful conversations with industry leaders and innovators and others that are making an impact in their business and our industry. My goal is pretty simple to provide you with valuable insights and information and resources that will help you grow and your business grow.


So today let's talk about standing out to succeed. Now, throughout my career, I've had the opportunity to talk to a lot of business owners and leaders. Even today, I had the privilege of interviewing someone for this podcast. In these conversations, one thing is clear they are all looking for ways to grow their business and to stand out from their competitors. I mean, there's no doubt that our industry is saturated with competition. Just look at the magnitude of cash chairs, for example, that are available for you to sell. They are everywhere. The range in price and features and benefits and quality honestly is as vast as the Pacific Ocean. But selling a specific brand of task seating does not help you or your business stand out. It just helps your business compete. You know, while doing some research for this topic, I discovered a quote that was said many, many years ago from famous business magnate and philanthropist, john D Rockefeller, and he said if you want to succeed, you should strike out on new paths rather than travel the worn paths of accepted success, though I'm not really sure exactly what he meant when he said that, but to me, what I think he's doing is advocating for innovation, for creativity and the willingness to embrace change so that you can stand out and achieve greater success. This is something that I talk about a lot is how do we stand out? How do we do things differently? How do we make an impact in our lives and in our business? You know, as an industry, one of the ways that we can stand out is by implementing strategic vertical market strategies that will allow you to focus on certain verticals like government, education or healthcare and these are all really good and this strategy allows you to build expertise and credibility within your market and position your business as a market leader and an expert. Again, all of this is good and can drive revenue to your business, but is there a better way Now?

Recently, I had the opportunity to have a conversation with a workplace strategist who works for a large corporate real estate firm, and he said something that stopped me in my tracks. He said the office furniture industry needs to quit playing it safe. Now, my initial reaction to this was wow, that's a bold statement, especially about a creative and ever-changing industry that launches hundreds of new products and innovative products each and every year. But the longer that we talked, the more I understood his position. We are playing it safe. We're introducing the same products that everyone else has. Yes, there may be some unique difference about your specific widget, but it's basically the same as the widget being made down the street by your competitor. The meshback task chair is a great example of this. I mean, who doesn't have one? And, for that matter, so is the acoustic pod category that I'm involved in on a daily basis with Thinkspace. 

But what if there was a different way? What if we stopped playing it safe and decided to really stand out to succeed? What could be possible for our industry and for your business? Now, one suggestion that I have is to abandon the traditional vertical market strategy and lean into a vertical solutions approach. All right, now don't stop listening. Hang in there with me for just a minute and I hope that my thoughts on this are gonna do what my goal of this podcast is is to provoke some thoughts and ideas that will help you create things that will help you grow and help your business grow. 

Remember, that's the goal. It's about standing out to succeed and not continuing to do what everybody else is already doing. So, when you take a deep dive and you look closely at what it is that we do, it's a lot more than providing office furniture to complete an office space. We actually solve problems. We help solve the business problems and challenges our customers have, and today, one of the biggest challenges our customers are facing is getting their employees to return to the office. If you're like me, I know that you hear this and you read about something related to return to the office each and every day. But as you start to explore the challenges that our clients have, I'm confident that you're going to uncover a lot more challenges that maybe you didn't even think about. But why is that? Well, the predominant reason is because we're in the business of selling furniture, not solving problems, which is exactly the reason that I believe that we need to lean into a vertical solutions approach versus a traditional vertical market strategy. So I'm sure you're asking by now what is a solutions approach, Sid? What are you talking about? Well, it's a strategy that allows you to become more than just a furniture provider. You will become a consultant and advisor to your clients. You will become a resource that differentiates you from your competition. You will stand out.

Now I want to look at a really easy example of this, which I believe is ergonomics. Now we all know the benefits of the height-adjustable desk and the quality task chair and how they impact the users and why they're needed to improve the overall health and well-being of the user. Better ergonomics right, and ergonomists talk about this quite a bit, but what if someone on your team became an ergonomics expert that really, truly understood the benefits of a better ergonomics in the workplace? What else could you sell? Think about that for a second. What else could you sell if you had an expert in a specific category? Well, sticking with ergonomics first, you could sell consulting services that could help your current clients. We're always looking for more business. The best place to find new business is with your current and former clients. This can also help you with future clients and help them understand the importance of good ergonomics. Well, if you do this, then you might be able to recommend other products that are not necessarily furniture-related products.

Think about things such as lighting though we don't necessarily categorize lighting as ergonomics, but light actually plays a really important part in the workplace as well as in ergonomics, because it helps to reduce the glare, it makes it easier to see things, makes it easier to read, so lighting is really important. Now, I'm pretty sure you could probably come up with a list of other things while I've been talking, and these are just a few of the unique solutions that I think are available in this particular vertical. But what are some other vertical options? Where else could you lean into and create expertise in an area that wasn't about selling a piece of furniture? Well, a few that come to mind for me are stress and anxiety I mean, that is rampant in the workplace, right Health and wellness, something that's very important. Privacy is another one, and I think the list goes on and on.

And when you think about these different, unique verticals, what is it that you have to offer to your clients that will help them solve their business problems inside their workplace, in these and likely a lot more categories? Here's my point, friend, that when you take a look at a vertical market strategy to help grow your business, I want you to look beyond the standard verticals that we know today. Those verticals are important, absolutely, but I believe there are so many other opportunities for you and your business. Here's my challenge Gather your team, get together in the conference room, be sure to bring a diverse group of people around the table and have an open brainstorming session and talk about this and look for ways that you and your business can stand out from the competition.

Now, when you do this and you take these steps and you start to implement something new, I want to hear from you. I want to hear from you guys. Anyway, right, but be sure to send me a note and let me know about what the new strategy is. What are you using, why did you decide that one and how that is leading you to stand out to success.


Thanks for joining me today again for another quick 10 to win episode, and we'll see you again in a couple of more weeks. Have a great day everyone. Thank you.


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