I'm always talking about value proposition - why differentiating yourself from the competition means everything.
Here's another story that I think illustrates the point well.
When I was seventeen, I spent the summer - as I spent many summers - at Camp Sussex, in New Jersey. That's where I met my wife Mara, in fact.
She knocked me off my feet immediately - I just loved her.
I spent a lot of time at camp thinking about how I could date Mara. I knew that other guys were after her too.
How could I differentiate myself? And how could I get her friends to like me? (Word of mouth being the best promotion of all.)
Mara was a counselor, and I worked in the kitchen. As a counselor, Mara had to be on OD every five nights (On Duty, meaning she didn't have the night off; she had to patrol the camp). I had every night off. One night while she was working, an idea struck me.
I knew that Mara loved ice cream, and that Dairy Queen was - and still is - her favorite place to get it.
The closest Dairy Queen was a good twenty minutes away from camp, so it was easy to get some ice cream if you had a night off, but if you were on OD, it seemed impossible.
I thought that if I proved myself a reliable source of ice cream for Mara on her OD nights, that would go a long way.
Could I get to Dairy Queen, buy Mara her favorite ice cream, and get back to camp before it melted?
I grabbed a friend of mine who was a very fast driver, and we made the trip to the DQ.
I ordered ice cream for Mara, but I also ordered some for all of her friends.
Then I jumped back in the car with the haul of ice cream, and my friend rushed us back to camp.
Sure enough, we made it back with all the ice cream intact, and Mara - and her friends - were thrilled to get it.
After that, Mara looked at me a little differently. She knew I was someone that understood her interests, and wanted to take care of them.
See, the value proposition is not only a key part of business; it works in any area of life, any time you're trying to differentiate yourself.
How do you strike a positive nerve with someone else?
You'd be surprised at how effective a little gesture can be. In my case, a little ice cream led to 25 years of marriage!