Last night, I was fortunate to get an invitation to a Cornell University alumni event through my Columbia alumni club. The gathering centered around a talk from alumnus Jeff Broadhurst, who is the CEO of Eat ‘n Park, an iconic chain of Pittsburgh-based restaurants, as well as other gourmet establishments and a catering venture.
At the end, the group was invited to ask questions and an attendee asked about how blurry the lines were now for businesses in terms of fitting into a certain category.
Gas stations are now serving fast food. Fast food restaurants are venturing into gourmet ingredients. Grocery stores now have gourmet coffee and high-end establishments have food trucks.
It’s difficult to be unique, and communicate your uniqueness, in a crowded market.
What I liked about Broadhurst was his positive spin on the ever-changing business landscape. Instead of focusing on the difficulty, he spoke to the opportunity.
With so much competition and differentiation, you no longer have to fit in the proverbial box.
There has never been a better time to do things differently than your competition. There has never been a better time to carve out your own niche, with your own audience.
Race tracks are not alone in competing with everyone for race fans time, attention and money. We can complain about how we’re competing against the movie theaters, restaurants, theme parks and house parties, or we can look at the opportunity to be the grocery store with a gourmet coffee shop.
Does every race track serve hamburgers? Probably. Do many serve gourmet salads? Probably not. What if you became the place to go for gourmet ice cream, healthy options, a mobile arcade for kids, or a retro-style experience with the connectivity we crave?
Race car drivers don’t have to be into country music or lifted trucks. Although that’s fine if that’s your passion. You can be refined, you can be professional, you even can be a girl.
A unique differentiator is just that: a differentiator. It’s what sets you apart. It’s what makes you like-able with a group of people that’s like you, or wants to be like you.
Do you know how many gas stations I’ve eaten in without being on the way to or from a race track in my life? Not many. Do you know how many times I’ve left my own home to drive to Sheetz for a salad in the past week? More than once.
The lines are blurry. And that’s an opportunity to be different than the norm.
I don’t know about you, but that’s pretty exciting to me.