Inside LaunchStreet Tamara Kleinberg

How to Get Out of the ER Trap and Find That Spot of Differentiated Value

Tamara knows that these three questions will bring you game-changing business innovation. They are the questions she asked herself that got her business out of the commodity game and into the no-competition growth. As she talks about, these questions led to hockey stick growth at Inside LaunchStreet. A big thank you to Julie Ford out in California for asking this important question. Tamara answers with a discussion around the assumptions holding you back, how customers really see you and why your weakness is your greatest strength.


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Key Takeaways:

[1:58] Tamara believes that we all feel the squeeze, and if you aren’t feeling it, you’re living in denial. She advises that the game you want to be playing is the value game.  Tamara keynotes often include speaking about getting out of the ER trap. The ER trap is when you are a little bit better, stronger, faster, and slightly improved from the competition. In today’s marketplace, you have to be different and innovate business differently. You have to get out of the ER trap and find that spot of differentiated value.

[5:25] The first question is: What is the biggest assumption of how business needs to be done and if you flip it on its head, what opportunities does it uncover? Tamara shares experiences with razors and wine. The assumption was that you made your money with the refill razor blade. Along came Mike Dubin, who flipped this marketplace on its head and created Dollar Shave Club. Ben Parsons flipped the marketplace on its head when he opened The Infinite Monkey Theorem Urban Winery in Denver. He sells his wine in single-serve cans. Mike opened up a whole new market in the wine market!

[9:28] When Tamara entered the marketplace, twenty-some years ago, the assumption was that consultants needed to come up with business innovation ideas. These ideas ended up on the idea shelf, collecting dust. LaunchStreet dumped this idea on its head and challenged this. Instead of giving people ideas, they give people tools to facilitate ideas. You must marry the people in the room with their ideas and what they are percolating. LaunchStreet decided to make innovation tangible. Their playbook, Think Sideways, will help you dig into the book and empower you to innovate. The Innovation Quotient Edge Assessment was developed to empower people to recognize their own innovation. When they challenged the assumptions at Launchstreet, it was transformed.

[12:13] The second question is: If I asked your customers, would they be able to quickly and truly identify how you are different than the competition? Tamara thinks the key here is to truly tell how you’re different. Tamara likes to think of it as a triangle. Cost of entry is on the bottom and differentiated language is on top of it. Cost of entry is the language you have to provide. We tend to use these words as our marketing language: gets results, action-oriented, interactive, highly skilled. These words do not differentiate. Tamara shares the success of the company, Rackspace. They put their stake in the ground around fanatical support. That is their differentiated language. Zappos is known for delivering happiness. Not delivery time, competitive pricing, range of inventory. Your customers should be able to quickly pick out your differentiated, unique selling space.

[15:34] The third question is: What perceived weakness could you leverage to become your greatest competitive advantage? Tamara believes that as we share our own journeys, we help others to become better. Launch Street was losing work because they were small. The boutique model was created to be small, but this perceived weakness inhibited their growth. They flipped this and launched the online innovation library and are having people come to them. They can now answer questions, listen to our customers and develop new things. This smallness helps us be nimble and it’s now their biggest competitive advantage.

[19:20] Tamara challenges Launch Streeters to take the time and honestly answer these questions to avoid the ER trap. Sign up for our online innovation course and library at


Mentioned in This Episode:


LaunchStreet’s Innovation On Demand 

LaunchStreet’s Innovation Quotient Edge Assessment