Steve Miller on making your business Uncopyable – MAF185

On the show this week, I talk to author and speaker Steve Miller about his book Uncopyable.

We talk about how to make your business stand out. Being better is not a competitive advantage. You must be different.

Welcome to episode 185 of the Marketing and Finance Podcast.

Steve Miller on making your business Uncopyable - MAF185

What you’ll hear about in this episode

  • Why trying to be better than the competition doesn’t work
  • Why bench-marking helps businesses to stand out – but you must do it right
  • The 4th element of competitive advantage
  • How to create that 4th element to stand out
  • How to think outside the box and to define your box
  • What Steve would like people to take from his book

Who is Steve Miller?

Steve’s father was the co-inventor of the 8-track tape player and he learned a lot about business from his father and his business partners.

His early ambition was to be a PGA golfer and he played in a couple of tours. A friend then got him work in Hollywood doing stunts. He moved into sales and then marketing, which he found he had a talent for. He helped the largest remote-controlled toy manufacturer in Japan to expand. At a trade show, he was approached by Apple to grow their sales.

He is now an independent consultant, author and speaker.

Summary of our chat

Steve says competition doesn’t breed innovation, it breeds conformity. When companies are looking for ways to stand out, they don’t try to be different, just be better. That means they only try to improve on the competition’s offerings. Better is not a long-term strategy, because if something can be copied, it will be.

Benchmarking is to observe correct behaviour and emulate within your own context. Use the competition to assess your minimal viable product. Then, come up with new ideas to make you different and unique rather than just better. Look at companies in other industries for inspiration and relate that back to your business.

Technology has improved the quality of products, making them commodities and the same as everyone else’s. Everyone offers good customer service, so buyers are making decisions on price. The fourth element is what we can do that’s out of the typical box. You don’t want loyal customers, you want them to be attached.

In his book ‘Uncopyable’, Steve sets out three steps to stand out:

  1. Your branding is your promise to the marketplace which you then deliver.
  2. The overall experience your customers get from you, such as giving them exclusive extras.
  3. Innovation and stealing genius – coming up with ideas inspired by other industries.

People don’t make changes until they’re dissatisfied. Customers need to know why they should choose to work with you. Steve gets his clients to compare their offering to the competition. They realise they’re not that different and feel dissatisfied. Then they want to change and need Steve’s help to stand out.

Steve says businesses need to look at marketing from the correct perspective. They’re probably doing marketing backwards, and focussing on tactics and communications first. Instead, think about who your target market is. Work out how to attract them, their pain points and what they want. Decide on your message and then choose the right tool.

A Marketing Campaign or Product Which Grabbed Attention

Steve has been impressed by one of his clients, who developed software for the portable storage unit industry. The software helps small businesses track their inventory, finances and bookkeeping. The client was competing with much bigger companies, so Steve worked with them to position themselves as specialists in portable storage. They had capacity for only a few customers and a high price point. A countdown on their website showed how many spaces they had available for customers with a cut-off point. Creating scarcity allowed them to offer annual subscriptions rather than one-off payments, and their sales increased 1800% in 12 months.

Recommended business book

Steve says everyone in business should be a reader, and has a personal goal to read a book a week. Two books he’s recently enjoyed are: The Founders Mentality, by Chris Zook and James Allen, which he says gets into how owners look at their business and how they should approach it.

The other book is Monster Loyalty by Jackie Huba. It’s about how Lady Gaga turns her followers into fanatics known as Little Monsters. She’s created a huge fan club she’s very attached to, and they are attached to her.

This is Steve’s book – Uncopyable


Links and contact details

Special Offer

Steve has put together a special white paper on three steps to speed branding your company specially for listeners of the Marketing and Finance Podcast. Visit the special webpage here.

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