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I’m not sure why, but the past few days have had me thinking about the idea of commodity. I just looked it up to be sure I understood it correctly, and a commodity is a good or item that is basically the same no matter who provides it. The term is most often used to describe physical resources, such as coal, wheat, petroleum; with the idea that all coal is basically the same as all other coal, all wheat the same as all other wheat, and so on. Stated more simply, the resource is the same no matter who provides it.

When something is viewed as a commodity, it generally means that the only differentiation is on price- i.e. where can I get the coal, wheat, petroleum as inexpensively as possible? Normally, people try to balance quality with price- but in the case of the commodity, quality is about the same, so price is the only variable.

That about reaches the limit of my knowledge of economics on this topic, so I’ll hold that part of the discussion there. Why this is important to us as authors, speakers, consultants, coaches is that we must avoid being seen as a commodity. Now, it’s easy to simply declare, “I won’t be a commodity!”-but the truth is, just saying this doesn’t make it so.

It seems to me that we each must find a way to provide value within an expectable price range- we must provide services at least as good as everyone else who is offering similar services- and, at the same time, we must also find ways to stand out- to differentiate ourselves enough- that we become more than just our job description.

We have to give people what they expect, and then offer something more.

What is the extra special benefit you give your clients? The one thing they can’t get anywhere else?

And how can you bring this to the forefront in your marketing, so people know what you do, and also know the special way in which you do it?

Your unique advantage is what keeps you from being a commodity within your marketplace. It’s what draws people to you, and builds your tribe.

It’s the very special YOU-NESS which gets people talking, and encourages them to share you with others.

In a way, the answer to “how not to be a commodity” is really about finding your own special brand of remarkableness- the distinctive difference that makes you stand out from everyone else in your marketplace.

For it’s that special brand of remarkableness that captivates people, charms them, and just won’t let them go.

Start paying attention to what your special brand of remarkableness might be. When you think you know, check it out with people you know and trust.

The key to not being a commodity- and, therefore, to not having to compete on price- is to offer a distinctive value within your marketplace- one that your clients experience and recognize.

What do you think?