It’s funny what ideas can crop into your mind when you are having conversations with people. New ideas for articles and blog posts pop into my head almost daily; and this one is going to be spoken from the heart. Yes, that’s right – I have not planned out this blog post, nor do I know where it is going to end up. But, it was inspired by a conversation I recently had with a client of ours and I felt it was a worthy point to write about.
So stick with me – this article will be quite conversational, but holds a very valid point to it.
In your business life, career, or sales life, it is so easy to be sucked along in the abyss of ‘popularity’ and follow the paths that others have already set for you. Or in other words, you naturally blend in. You act in certain ways because that is how everyone else acts. You send proposals written in the same way as all of your colleagues because that is how they have all done it for years. You structure your sales and marketing plan in the same way as your competitors, or you keep an eye on what your competitors are doing so you feel that you are moving in the right direction.
But is that the right way to go about things?
The major changes to this world have all happened due to the rule breakers, the people not scared to rebel against conformity and people whom have questioned the way the world works. Steve Jobs, Henry Ford, Elon Musk, The Wright Brothers – all people whom have gone above and beyond what was expected of them by not listening to other people and redefining their own rules on life. They stood out from the crowd and did things in their own way.
So, putting this into your business or sales life; if your social media marketing looks exactly the same as your competitor, are your customers going to be wowed by your campaign? If you offer the exact same as your competitor, are you going to excite the market? If your CV looks exactly the same as the other 20 candidates applying for the same job, how easy will it be to be overlooked? If the email you send to your prospective customer looks and reads exactly the same as the other 20 sales emails your prospect has received that day, what are the chances it will be swiftly deleted.
Look at it this way; several years ago I founded and ran an antiques and art business right here in Leicester. We really worked well at sourcing and selling top end antiques, vintage items and art work that will always look good in a home. My ethos was that we would never sell ‘tat’ or dusty items and collectibles that were very common. Anyway, during the busiest parts of the trading, we took part in antique trade shows. Now, if you have ever been to one of these shows you will know that pretty much every stand looks the same. Every stand has some form of table cloth, items loaded on them with small hand written tags delicately placed around them, and the odd piece of staging to raise certain items up and make them look more prominent. For this story, let’s just say every stand looks exactly the same! Apart from the stock of course, every stand you come across is set up pretty much the same, with tired and bored looking owners sat behind them on camping chairs. So, when we started to do these shows, we did the same thing. We got a nice table cloth, invested in some staging for the table and tried very hard to blend in. But how wrong was I?! We were trying so hard to blend in that we just became camouflaged in a wilderness of trade stalls. This made it easier for punters to walk on by and we would miss trade.
Want to know what I would do differently now? I would invest in a small stage like feature with pillars either side going up to the ceiling. On these pillars will be four flat screen TVs displaying videos of some of our best lines and items. Our branding will be a very bright and crazy colour; orange perhaps. You will see our stand from the other side of the trade show. I will build so much excitement around our stall that people will be mad to not take a look. Hell, I could even invest in some dry ice and strobe lights to really make an impact.
Can you see the point I am trying to get to?
If you spend too long monitoring what your competitors are offering, or set your business model up in the same manner as everyone else you will only be left behind.
It is time to think long and hard about who YOU are, and what YOU can offer! Be yourself and be willing to break some rules! Market and brand your business YOUR way. It is time to stand out from the crowd and to get noticed.
The marketplace is a crowded place – what are you doing to stand out?
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