Collapse of Distinction: Stand Out And Move Up While Your Competition Fails


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Can your customers tell the difference between you and the competition?

It's not that we can't see the forest for the trees, it's just that these days, every tree looks exactly alike. From big...

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Free your book! Buying a product tagged "NelsonFree" means you get more than just the hardback book. You also get a free ebook and a free audiobook. Three formats for the price of one! And the freedom to experience your book in more ways than ever before.

Can your customers tell the difference between you and the competition?

It's not that we can't see the forest for the trees, it's just that these days, every tree looks exactly alike. From big box retail to fast food to insurance-no one stands out. Distinction has collapsed into beige uniformity. And in today's tough economic times, this copycat uniformity is resulting in the death of businesses in every industry, says author Scott McKain.

If a business is going to thrive, it has to rise above the fray. In The Collapse of Distinction, McKain will help you understand the reasons behind the current quagmire of stifling sameness, and will give you the tools your company needs to step away from the competition.


"In challenging economic times, this is the one book every business owner MUST read. Collapse of Distinction is further evidence that Scott McKain is the premiere business communicator of our time. Not only has Scott produced extraordinary results in his own businesses by adhering to these principles, but he makes it simple for you to do so as well. By following the easily applied concepts from Collapse of Distinction, you will set the standard of excellence for your industry and make your competition irrelevant." -- Joseph Michelli, PhD, speaker, consultant, and author of The Starbucks Experience, The New Gold Standard, and When Fish Fly

"Differentiation is not an option in business. In a world where the word 'commodity' has become the norm, Scott McKain clarifies the all-important (and all-profitable) strategy to become different, become distinct, and become dominant in your marketplace. Buy this book. Read it. And put it into practice." -- Jeffrey Gitomer, author of The Little Red Book of Selling

"The primary need today is to constantly present ourselves as different from-and better than-those we compete with! Scott McKain's latest book, Collapse of Distinction, is a must-read for any professional or organization attempting to creatively differentiate from the competition. I predict this book will be a massive hit!" -- Don Hutson, co-author of the #1 New York Times bestseller The One Minute Entrepreneur, and CEO of U. S. Learning

"In these uncertain economic times, we need new and refreshing ideas about how to move forward. Scott McKain's Collapse of Distinction may just save our sanity and common sense with his positive approach to business and life itself." -- Joe Bonsall, thirty-five year member of legendary music group, The Oak Ridge Boys, and author of the best-selling book G.I. Joe and Lillie

“I could not stop reading…making notes…writing our staff and our suppliers…about the ideas I’ve learned! (And this was just by the end of Chapter One!) With superb style, storytelling, and rationale, Collapse of Distinction is a distinctive piece of business and personal literature." --Ty Boyd, Founder and Chairman, Executive Learning Systems

"If I can't tell the difference between you and your competitor, why should I spend my money with you? The answer to that question is the key to your survival and success. Scott McKain’s new book teaches how to answer that question—the right way!" --Larry Winget, television personality and New York Times best-selling author of People Are Idiots and I Can Prove It

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781595551856
  • Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
  • Publication date: 4/5/2009
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 3.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Scott McKain is the Co-founder and Principal of The Value Added Institute. His latest book, Collapse of Distinction, was named one of the “Ten Best Business Books” of the year by the Miami Herald, Sacramento Bee, and numerous other major publications. He has appeared on FOX News Network as an Analyst and Commentator.

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Table of Contents

Introduction xi

1 How Did We Get in This Mess? 1

2 Why Don't I Like My Work Anymore? 27

3 The Avenues of Differentiation 45

4 The Ebert Effect 69

5 The First Cornerstone: Clarity 81

6 The Second Cornerstone: Creativity 111

7 The Third Cornerstone: Communication 153

8 The Fourth Cornerstone: Customer-Experience Focus 183

9 Different Is Better 215

Resources 227

Notes 233

Acknowledgments 239

About the Author 243

Index 245

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Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 9, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Practical Approach to Establishing Your Business as Unique/Distinct

    I am not generally a fan of motivational books, and that is what I expected that this book would be when I picked it up--a lot of cheerleading and motivational speaking without that much practical advice. I already know I need a good attitude to succeed. I don't particularly need a good attitude toward people who tell me about a good attitude and then charge me for it.

    In this case, I was pleasantly surprised. While there is some motivation in this book, and there is some repetition, there is also much good information, and a basic idea that is very important--you have to stand out from the competition to succeed.

    Now that may sound pretty obvious, but I wouldn't be surprised if you were trying to attain that distinction from your competition in many of the ways that McKain describes. Then he explains why our normal process of creating distinction doesn't work.

    The first four chapters get things set up with stories and examples. The real meat starts in chapter five with the four cornerstones of distinction: Clarify, Creativity, Communication, and Customer Experience Focus. Again, each of those things sounds like ideas we have all heard, but what you need to do is get the complete picture. How do you make these things happen?

    McKain lays it out pretty clearly. I have operated this business, Neufeld Computer Services, since 1997, and I'm now emphasizing Energion Publications and no longer expading the computer business. This book both explained to me the success of my computer services business, and also helped me bring some additional focus to my publishing business.

    For a number of years I wondered why I had a high degree of customer loyalty and good personal referrals for new business when I was working part time, lacked the sophisticated shop and equipment that major companies take for granted, and as one person often had to make one client wait while I finished work at another.

    On reading this book I put customer comments together with the ideas presented and realized that my distinction was simply taking responsibility. While I do often have to refer customers to a software provider or an equipment vendor, I always followed through. I never said "this isn't my fault" and then left the customer hanging. I'd follow through and make sure that the person to whom I referred them followed through.

    If I wanted to expand this business, I would use that in my marketing. As it is, that information has led me to start working on a new marketing approach as well as new services and ways of providing those services for my publications.

    I strongly recommend this book to any entrepreneur who is either starting a new business, or hopes to expand one.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 29, 2009

    So Who Are You?

    What can I say? I really enjoyed this book. Not because Scott McKain is a fellow Hoosier, but because McKain has something important to say. Scott McKain has taken a subject that could be dry and boring and kept it interesting throughout the entire book. Each chapter is well written and insightful. The executive summary at the end of each chapter can be quickly reviewed, but I encourage you to read the entire book.

    So what is Distinction about? Distinction is about being different, standing out, and getting noticed in the sea of sameness. Having distinction is important to any organization's survival. Distinction takes an organization's focus off of what the competition is doing and places it squarely on what the customer desires. True distinction helps promote innovation and casts uniformity aside.

    McKain does not lay out a formula to follow, but gives guiding principles which will challenge anyone who is willing to examine themselves and their organization. Clarity is the starting point.

    "Many organizations and professionals are so afraid of losing to the competition, they strive to become almost all things to almost all people, believing it will bring them more customers." ~ Scott McKain

    You have to know who you are and who you can reach as a customer. The remainder of the book builds on this principle. You have to ask yourself the tough questions, and McKain list many of them at the end of each chapter.

    As a minister, this is a book I would not only recommend to entrepreneurs, but I would encourage any church planter to read as well. Thanks Scott, for a book I will open on more than one occasion.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 29, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Exactly What the Business Doctor Ordered

    Collapse of Distinction: Stand Out and Move Up While Your Competition Fails by Scott McKain is exactly the book that anyone involved in running a business should be reading right now. McKain, who is Vice Chairman of Obsidian Enterprises, recently named one of the "fastest growing public companies" in the country, cuts a clear path through all the marketing claptrap to arrive at what is really the problem with most of today's businesses - a lack of distinction.

    Why would you have any loyalty to a store, restaurant or other business when their only point of differentiation is pricing. As soon as the price changes, the customer moves on. And the price will always change because there is always someone willing to sell a little cheaper, cut a few more corners, or take a bit less profit. Where loyalty and longevity are established is through our points of differentiation.

    Not only does Scott McKain make it clear, through repeated interesting and insightful examples, that we currently have this problem, he suggests way in which we can combat the problem. His four "Cornerstones of Distinction" provide methodologies that someone in any business, or even personal endeavor, can use to separate themselves from the pack, create interest from the customer, and then concentrate on that customer experience to build loyalty. This works in service industries, sales, consulting, and even civic organizations.

    Something else that is as almost as exciting the book itself is the distribution method. With this book, Thomas Nelson Publishing launches what they are call "NelsonFree". What this means is that when you purchase the physical book, you also get access to it in electronic and audio format. So, you could read the paper version by your bedside, keep the electronic version on your iPhone or Kindle for reading on the train, and then have the audiobook format available for listening to while driving. The additional formats are just a simple and free download from the web. This is revolutionary and could, if it becomes widespread, dramatically increase the spread of alternative forms of reading.

    So, all together, Collapse of Distinction is an very worthwhile book that can help you see your business through not only during these tough economic times, but through the "normal" times as well. In addition, with one person you get to pick whatever format makes you happy - or choose them all. A great deal by any standard.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 28, 2009

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    Leader of the Pack Is Distinction

    Scott McKain's Collapse of Distinction is part of Thomas Nelson's new NelsonFree book collection in which you get the hardback version along with the ability to download an e-book version for Kindle or other devices & the audiobook.

    Scott stipulated that our businesses need to become distinctive if they want to survive. If all businesses were the same, then the only distinctive measure is price. His parents ran a successful market in a small town & beat out a larger supermarket chain because they were distinctive offering customer service far and above the competition. Starbucks, Apple, High Point University, Southwest and many more offer unique & distinct services or experiences that put them a cut above the competition.

    McKain points out that there are four cornerstones to distinction:

    * Clarity - know what you are good at (vision)
    * Creativity - Les Schwab tires - run, don't walk to the cars
    * Communication - tell your story - people love stories
    * Customer Experience Focus - give the customer something great

    Big companies who understand that distinction is the key to a brand's longevity in the marketplace will understand what has made Apple, Starbucks, and Southwest great companies. This book is a must read for anyone who needs to restart their business or understand how to grow & transform what makes their company great. Be the Leader of the Pack! Be Distinct!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 27, 2009

    The Collapse of Distinction by Scott McKain

    I was very excited to read this book because I am trying to make my blog grow and I thought this was a great book to help. Scott begins the book by listing the three destroyers of differentiation which are:

    * Capitalism Produces Incremental Advancement

    * Dynamic Change is Delivering New Competition

    * Familiarity Breeds Complacency

    The book is full with examples of both large and small companies detailing their successes and failures. You don't even need to own a business to learn something from this book, while I was reading it I thought it would be good too for people who are looking for a job right now (which so many people are) to stand out to employers.

    So really the whole point is if you don't stand out, either in business or personally, it's hard to get anywhere. He says "If you aren't willing to create distinction for yourself in your profession and for your organization... prepare to take your seat in the back''

    Also when you buy this book you get a special code to get the free e-book and audio version. This was great for me so I could listen while I was doing my chores.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 25, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A way to survive a bad economy

    We are in a world full of boring businesses that do not stand out. Every business is just like the next.

    The economy is getting worse and businesses are shutting down left and right. What can you do to survive? This book has some great topics and ideas. The general idea is how to stand out and make people want to become loyal customers.

    The ideas in this book can help more than business people though. The economy is affecting everyone. People that are facing lay offs or are forced to look for a new job will find this useful too. There is a lot more competition with everything now. If you want to succeed you need to learn how to stand out.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 21, 2009

    Not Just For Businesses

    When I saw the summary of Scott McKain's book, Collapse of Distinction, the first thing I thought of was Hollywood. Every time there's a big success in Hollywood, everyone rushes in to do the same thing, of course with less successful results.

    The book is for businesses who want to stand out and stay in business. Many of the examples are businesses that most people will know and can connect to, and they're all recent. Chances are, the reader will have seen something about them in the news. Other examples include the movie industry, as well as the recent Presidential election.

    The movie industry is where the author missed an opportunity. He referred to the film "Snakes on a Plane" as having a great hook that made it distinct. The problem was that he only reported on the pre-buzz of the movie based on the hook, not what happened with the movie. It bombed at the box office because the hook gave too much away. That would have been opportunity to discuss where a seemingly good hook turns bad.

    For me, I'm not a business owner. I'm an employee in a company, and I'm also a writer, so I have a different perspective to this book. The first thing I realized was that the distinction and hook is very similar to what writers have to do when submitting a novel to an agent. They have to come up with a query letter with a hook that makes the story stand out. It's hard concept to get, and the hook--like the hook for businesses--is often surprisingly subtle.

    That made me wonder if the same thing could be applied to job hunting. I remember reading in the newspaper about people sending shoes with their resumes (foot in the door) to get the attention of an employer. How does that make one different? On the other hand, maybe a subtle and simple hook in a cover letter might be what gets the attention.

    It was an interesting book that made me think in ways I hadn't expected.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 21, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Standing out from the crowd - and making sure your customers know that

    I wanted to see how accessible a book like Scott McKain's "Collapse of Distinction" would be to someone who didn't know a great deal about business, so I requested this book from Thomas Nelson to review.

    Short answer : quite.

    Long answer : here are a few points that can help businesses and laypeople alike.

    McKain's argument is that as businesses compete, they often become more alike, especially if they imitate what their competitors do in an effort to attract customers. This doesn't always work. Firstly, customers can tell when one business aping another - for instance, when a small-town burger place tries to out-McDonalds McDonalds. Secondly, if a business loses points of distinction, how can it differentiate itself from its competitors?

    A more productive strategy would be to focus on, develop and communicate what makes one different. Getting back to the small-town burger place, it won't be as cheap as McDonalds. But it can compensate with a personal touch, winning points with better customer satisfaction.

    A business should also not attempt to be All Things to All Customers, especially if it is best known for some area of specialization and its newer efforts undermine that. For instance, when Mercedes-Benz introduced the more economical A-Class, the prestige of the brand was affected - because the whole point of the luxury car or the black credit card is that most people can't afford one.

    As an example of a successful integration of points of difference, clarity of message, clear communication and the personal touch, the book describes Barack Obama's presidential campaign. That was fascinating, even though I'm not usually interested in politics (or business). So I enjoyed learning about both, and found "Collapse of Distinction" both user-friendly and informative.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 20, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    In the present homogeneous business environment, where retailers and companies are beginning to look more and more like each other, those that engender a distinct difference gain attention and also reap the rewards. In the most recent book I reviewed for Thomas Nelson publishing, Collapse of Distinction, author Scott McKain asks and then answers the question, "How do customer's distinguish you from your competition?"

    After the first 50 pages, I was ready to write this book off as just another business book that points out the flaws in the current business environment, especially in light of the dwindling economy, with out anything new and insightful to add to the conversation. It took a dramatic turn as McKain launched in the four cornerstones of building distinction; clarity, creativity, communication and customer-experience focus. McKain is spot on in his insights regarding these cornerstones and how they play together to create distinction.

    The chapter on communication and the stories we, our employees and customers share regarding about our company and product struck a cord with me. This chapter would be helpful for any company to consider how they communicate what makes them the superior company and has some great simple tips for normal communication.

    After building the case and moving into the cornerstones, the only place McKain lost me was at his attack on Good to Great by Collins. I felt it was unnecessary in support of his opinions.

    Each chapter is capped with an executive summary and discussion questions that would be useful in discussing this book with co-workers and other executives in your company. This book is also part of the Nelsonfree line of books, that enable you to get a free ebook and audio version of the book that you purchase. This makes the book very versatile in a busy world, allowing you to peruse in anywhere.

    This is a book that I will use and recommend to those in any line of business as well as those that are looking to make a distinction between themselves and the competition in their own workplace.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 29, 2009

    Useful but not compelling

    The author is absolutely correct with his central theme but I found the book a little tedious to read and use.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted May 18, 2009

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