Difference between genius and simply genius is razor thin

I might be dating myself with this example, but it’s a perfect example of how paying attention to your competition and making things easier for your customers can help you create enormous success for your business.

In the late-1970s and early-1980s, it was suddenly possible to more conveniently record home movies, record shows off of the television, and watch feature films at home, all thanks to videotape. 

Though the term “VHS” has become synonymous with the videotape format, much like Kleenex and Band-Aids, and Q-Tips, the earliest days of videotape recording also featured a battle for dominance between JVC’s VHS technology vs. Sony’s Betamax technology. 

The long and short of it is that VHS became the winning format, with Betamax falling deep into the caverns of history, despite what many described as being a superior technology. But why?

In a word: Simplicity. 

Why does simplicity matter when it comes to genius?

Both technologies were genius in their ability to create a whole new market in home entertainment. But only one manufacturer in this battle took a path toward simplicity for the consumer in their strategy, and that was JVC’s VHS format. 

One, the recording time per cassette was longer than that of Betamax, meaning you could record more content per cassette. 

Secondly, JVC was quick to create deals with movie and television studios, resulting in greater availability of content in the VHS format over those in the Betamax format. 

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, JVC was wise to license their technology to whomever wanted to manufacture their own brand of VCRs, allowing those parties to compete for market share, and profiting no matter who would emerge as the leader in VCR sales. In contrast, Sony kept their Betamax technology proprietary until it was too late and VHS had already claimed dominance in the space. 

Simplicity can lead to brand and market dominance

Remember, at this time, this technology was still prohibitively expensive, and having a VHS player and a Betamax player was not only costly, it was also redundant. It would have been like having an iPod and a Zune simultaneously in the early-Aughts, or having an iPad Pro and a Surface now. Attainable, but pointless. 

The point is, JVC was genius not only in their technology but also in their strategy, because they did more than just create a high-quality product. They also created a marketplace (home entertainment), filled it with content (by making deals with studios), and made people’s ability to participate in enjoying their favorite content easily accessible (by licensing their technology to anyone who wanted to have their own line of VCR).

Before this seismic shift in how we consume entertainment, you either went to the movies to see a movie, and maybe it was played later on network television or in a movie theater that played older films, or you just didn’t see it. The same was true for television shows. You saw them when they aired, or you didn’t.

The emergence of this format proved that there was a demand (perhaps by creating the demand) for recording, buying, and even renting video cassettes. 

Most people just weren’t concerned about the minutiae of picture and audio quality, or other details specific to the technology, they simply wanted to know that the technology was affordable, easy to set up, and durable and reliable. 

Simplicity should be everywhere: Your product, your service, your strategy, and in your message!

To go back to the iPod example, sometimes the rule of simplicity applies as much to the message as it does to the technology itself. The iPod was first to market. The iPod came in a range of colors and storage sizes. And the iPod marketing copy was dead-simple: “1,000 Songs In Your Pocket.”

What’s more, the iPod was cool. Cool people listened to cool music on a cool device. Apple, perhaps better than any company in history, understood the critical nature of translating cool into sales, and they did so by being as simple as possible in their approach. Their products look good to the eye, they feel good to the touch, their controls are user-friendly, and their brand message is as clear as a bell. 

Have you wondered why your business is stuck on the precipice between genius and simply genius? The Cardone team can help you unlock your potential by simplifying your approach to finance, operations, marketing and more! 

The best way to arrive at simply genius is by attending a Cardone Ventures event. Join our team and a group of like-minded entrepreneurs to learn how to simplify your business and 10X your life. Register now while there are still spaces available!