Almost every day clients, and potential clients say to me: “We want to stand out.’ ‘Make a statement.’ ‘We’re really different.’ Yet when push comes to shove, most people want to stick to what’s safe, cosy and familiar.
When faced with the opportunity to do something radical and totally off-grid, there’s nearly always a large gulp, followed by some rapid back-pedalling towards something more conventional. It makes me sad. All those missed opportunities just because deep down, we’re all afraid of what someone else thinks.
Standing out from the crowd doesn’t mean contorting your business into something it isn’t just so you can appear cool and groovy. Nor does it mean sticking to a set of conventions that you hate (like wearing a suit and boring ties) just because ‘that’s the way it’s always been done’. It simply means….
When you figure out who you are, and what you believe in, making yourself stand out is actually pretty easy. The difficulty comes when we get too tightly wound up in trying to look bigger than we are, or creating a persona that appeals to investors, or trying to appease a younger audience or the worst crime of all, trying to appeal to everyone in the world at the same time.
For a kick off, not everyone is your customer. And that’s ok. For some reason this is a big concept to grasp and people often look at me with total horror at the idea of not selling to everyone. But seriously, you can’t be all things to all people. It NEVER works. Instead, ask yourself this question: Who do I serve? When you’ve got the answer to that, focus on it. Because nothing else really matters.
My next point is that most people start a business because they believe in something. For example, fledgling law firms want to offer their clients a better quality service than the massive impersonal money-grabbing firm they left behind. The new cafe owner wants to offer his customers the best quality coffee he can get his hands on, at a better price than the global chains who over-roast the beans and don’t pay their taxes.
So go back to the roots of the business and remind yourself why you started it in the first place. What made you give up the day job? What was the dream? That will probably give you everything you need to start crafting some statements, copy or creative marketing ideas that will set you apart from everyone else.
Question: What makes your business unique?
Answer: You do! Your people, your ideas, your beliefs, your experience, your knowledge.
Play with it. I guarantee it will yield some interesting results.