Standing OUT does not come naturally. Our human nature wants to fit in. Think of Easter. If Easter Eggs were just white and were not colored, decorated, fun colors… would people even take notice?
The Eiffel Tower in Paris is one of the most iconic structures anywhere and attracts more visitors than any other paid tourist attraction in the world. However, when it was built for the 1889 Worlds Fair to mark the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution. It was brought mostly with skepticism. Parisians thought it was an eyesore, structurally unstable and were trying to make it just a temporary exhibit. In fact, it was almost torn down and scrapped in 1909. City officials opted to save it after recognizing its value as a radiotelegraph station. The most reconognizable structure on the planet is only still here because of its radiotelegraph ability. No city is defined more by one structure than Paris is of the Eiffel Tower. Yet because it was so different and so radical to some that it’s greatness was almost lost.
Here is 6 more keys to remove your firm from the Sea of Sameness.
Zig When Everyone Else Zags.
My dad was a big believer in this. He wanted to go down a different road. If everyone told him to go one way, he felt it was a sure fire sign to go the other. He also said that when you go, you should go with flare. Make a lot of noise. Push beyond your comfort zone. In fact, get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Because when you get comfortable, that’s when you should worry – because there’s certainly a disrupter standing right behind you.
Wayne Gretzky was arguably the greatest hockey player ever. His father told him to “skate to where the puck is going, not where it has been.” In the business world, most companies are skating where the puck is now – but the great ones stay one step ahead anticipating where it will be.
Be Hyper Focused & Personalized.
Don’t try to be a one-size-fits-all. Zero in on segments and niches and customize, customize, customize. Instead of taking a shotgun approach, try excavating your market a ½ inch wide and six miles down. In the book “Blue Ocean Strategy,” the author talks about how to make your competition irrelevant. As they fight in a bloody red ocean, shift yourself just one degree and you’ll find yourself mining an uncontested market space. Personalize your message, focus on your clients, and do what you do best. Walt Disney said it best: “Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends.”
Know Your Own Strengths.
It’s difficult to see your own strengths or weaknesses. So it’s always good to ask. Make it an ongoing practice to collect feedback from your clients, employees, and others to understand where you’re doing great and where there’s room to improve. This information can also be helpful in identifying which are your top two segments and why. Remember to keep your finger on the pulse in those segments.
Surprise & Delight.
The Ritz Carlton trains its employees to anticipate the unexpressed needs of its guests. At Rothschild Marketing, we also look for every opportunity to offer an experience that goes above and beyond. We believe in being there before the client asks, looking around corners, and bringing new ideas and opportunities to the table – because if you’re waiting to be asked for help, you’re already too late.
It may be a lot of work, but when your goal is long-term partnerships, it’s easier to invest in relationships. We aim to make our clients look like rock stars and we’ll do whatever it takes to make that happen. We once had a client who discovered at the last minute that they needed an extra number of toiletry bags that we’d had made in Columbia. Even though the order had to be rushed and was a fraction of the original, we charged them the same amount and covered half of the international overnight shipping charges. We may have lost a little money on the additional job, but we won big in terms of long-term client satisfaction and loyalty.
Focus on MindShare.
People can only keep so many ideas – or companies – in their heads. It is like Ryan Seacrest’s top 40 (in my day it was Casey Kasem). Songs are either moving up or down. Your goal should be to stay within the top two or three options your clients consider. If you are not in the top three, read the ideas above about differentiation strategies.
Be Easy to Remember & Easy to Share.
Once you have differentiated your company, the key is to share your distinctive differences through contextual stories. Most of us are better at retaining and sharing bite-sized messages that connect with us visually and emotionally. Remember less is more.