Border’s Failure to Read Between the Lines

As Borders began shuttering their roughly 400 remaining stores, company president Mike Edwards said, “We are saddened by this development. We were all working hard towards a different outcome, but the headwinds we have been facing for quite some time…have brought us to where we are now.”

A heartfelt statement that craftily shifts the blame for their demise to external factors known as “headwinds”. Let’s call the downfall what it really is: the inability to shift strategy and provide differentiated value to customers. Even the previous CEO George Jones acknowledged in USA Today that he couldn’t tell the difference between his stores and Barnes and Noble, saying: “There’s an opportunity to have a good experience at both, but they’re not differentiated enough.”

I see many managers become frustrated when they’re asked how their products and services are different than the competition. Generally, it’s because they’re not. Take a hard look at your products and services. What’s the differentiated value they provide to customers? If you can’t come up with at least three valid points, the book may be shutting on your business as well.

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