How To Differentiate A Dog (And A Business)

by Paul Simister on April 8, 2011

One of my favourite advertisements on TV is for Harvey, the dog who wants to be rescued.

The scene is simple – this young couple arrive at a dog’s home to choose a new pet and they are met by sweet dogs looking appealing. Individually each is difficult to resist but once they see Harvey, there’s no comparison.


Because Harvey plays a short video which shows what he can bring to a family.

He shows his competitive advantages which set him apart from the other dogs

Just watch the video and you’ll see what I mean – and why they picked the Bachman Turner Overdrive song “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet”.


This is the classic differentiation by what.

It’s the extra things that Harvey can do that makes him special.

And you may start off thinking that he’s funny looking but you end up thinking he’s really cute.

Harvey has become so popular, he even has his own Facebook fanpage.

There are three big lessons to learn from this video

First, you need to identify your special advantages. It’s what Michael Porter would call looking at your customers’ value chains and seeing how you impact them.

Second you need to communicate the advantages. It’s clear that Harvey does things of value that you wouldn’t expect a dog to do. Customers aren’t mind readers.

Third – and this is a negative – the advertisement has been hugely popular and even won an “ad of the year” award but it’s not really promoting Harvey but a TV advertising company.

And their name?

What you watched the video and you can’t remember?

It’s from Thinkbox.

And I think it’s much more successful at making you want a dog like Harvey than to advertise your business on TV.

Paul Simister is a business strategy coach who helps small business owners to profit from differentiating their businesses, being distinctive in the eyes of their customers and standing out in a crowded marketplace.

You too can move past your profit tipping point by answering the seven big questions of business success.

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