Mary Cashiola got it just right in this week’s Flyer when she noted that being “overlooked” by chain stores and restaurants comes with its own virtues. “What we have is real,” she wrote. “It wasn’t testmarketed in four major cities then imported here. And that authenticity sets Memphis apart and can be used as a selling point.”
Contrast Mary’s confidence about Memphis with that of The Commercial Appeal editorial writer this morning who embraced the “decision” by the Rolling Stones to play Memphis as some sort of sign that Memphis is worthy. It reminds me of poor Sally Fields’ Oscar acceptance speech, “They like me. They really like me.” Once again, our short history of acts like Velvet Underground bypassing Shelby County for DeSoto County was cited as evidence of a competition we can’t afford to lose. The editorial writer even went on to suggest that the FedExForum’s concert bookers should make their slogan, “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg.”
It made me want to beg The Commercial Appeal writer to pick up a copy of the Flyer and read Mary’s column.
Michael Porter, the Harvard strategy guru, counsels clients to build strategy off difference not sameness. Sameness is never a winning strategy. When will we learn to be confident in our difference and capitalize on it?