The Simple Way to Innovate and Differentiate

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Cheeseboard pizzaMany times business owners and marketers look for ways to create innovations and points of differentiation through elaborate technical add-ons or by attempting to create entirely new product or service categories.

From my experience, one of the best way to create an innovation or differentiation for your business is to take something people already understand they may want and need and make it even easier to want, need and understand. In fact, the true test of this theory is when you can create something so simply brilliant that people can and do explain it to their friends with ease.

I witnessed a stunning example of this on a recent trip.

Pizza is a pretty mature category. Delivery was a huge innovation in the industry years ago, but it seems like tinkering with the crust and baking variations is all that’s left to work on.

The Cheese Board Collective Pizza, in Berkeley, California has created a dead simple innovation and incredible point of differentiation and it’s made for a very healthy, buzz worthy business.

The concept is this. Instead of serving up a menu of pizza variations and cooking each to order the restaurant offers one unique pizza each day as it’s only menu item. I was there on a Friday night and the line for pizza ran out the door and down the street for some time. Patrons order any amount of the pizza they like at $20 per pizza and, as seating is very limited, often plop down outside and around the store and eat picnic style while listening to a jazz trio. The fixed menu, fixed price, make it in quantity approach allows them to serve thousands a day, but the pizza was also one of the best I’ve ever eaten. While it would difficult to capture the cult-like following this place seems to enjoy, it sure looks like a duplicatable concept waiting to happen!

A couple other important mentions that add to the differentiation – the pizzas are always vegetarian (narrowing their market a bit, but hey, it’s Berkeley.) They use higher end ingredients, such as organic crimini mushrooms and goat cheese, as their business model allows them to make great margins. The business model, as the name suggests, is a collective. All twelve employees own the business, are paid the same, manage the business, ring the registers, bake the pies, and wash the dishes. Profits are shared and reinvested in the business.

So, how could you strip what your business or industry does, something people already get, down to a simple innovation and create an innovation that anyone can understand, buy and talk about?

Image credit: keenduck


Cheese Board Collective

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