The Science of Standing Out: 7 Questions to Ask About Your Business

Marketing is full of ideas, some good, some bad. The whole goal of marketing is to get your business out there, to find your audience. To do that, you need to stand apart from others. Yet many of the things we do are the same things everyone else is doing. 

Of course, to some degree, you need to do similar things. In today’s digital world, you must spend money on SEO to help people find you, for example. You should maintain at least one social media account to get more engagement, but also because people expect to find you there. Yes, there is a bit of keeping up with the Joneses — in this case, the business next door.

But what are you doing to stand out? Keeping up is one thing, but surpassing your competition completely, now that sounds good!

The Fear of Stepping Out

I recently heard a podcast episode in which a person talked about his marketing strategy: to go on YouTube wearing a mattress like an outfit, with his face sticking out. Silly? Sure. Effective? You bet! He got the idea after hearing about a guy in Texas who ran a tire shop and wore a tire around his waist everywhere he went — his kids’ school, PTA meetings, whatever. He advertised his work all the time in a way that caught people’s eye. 

A client of ours once did something similar, showing up to networking events wearing a boxer’s uniform: boxing shorts, robe, and gloves. That outfit surely caught some eyes in a room full of suits! 

Can you imagine wearing a boxer’s uniform for your next event? You might feel a knot in your stomach as you walked in or feel too silly even to enter. Standing apart from the crowd isn’t easy. From a young age, we’re taught to blend in, go with the flow. Unfortunately, going with the flow isn't exactly a strategy for business success.

You hate hearing your voice host a podcast; you don’t want to see yourself on video. You feel ridiculous wearing a tire around your waist. Standing alone feels wrong sometimes - like our ideas or vision aren’t mainstream - so it’s probably strange and won’t work. 

The other scary thing about this is that sometimes, those ideas don’t work. Stepping out from the crowd is a risk. But so is running a business. You were bold enough to take that initial step, so why stop there? 

While we must do some things to keep up with the Joneses, the only way to outsell them is by showing people how we are different — not how we are the same. 

Brainstorm Ways to Stand Apart

You don’t have to walk around wearing a strange outfit to stand out. What you do to set your business apart will depend on your industry and your brand personality. But surely you and your team (and marketing agency) can sit down and come up with some options. Some things to talk about during that brainstorm session: 

  1. Why do you do what you do? Your passion should always show. 
  2. How are you different than others who offer the same service or products?
  3. If not much is different, what can you change with your services or products to make them slightly different? Or, how can you craft unique messaging around them to help your business stand apart from the rest? Remember, if you were actually exactly like everyone else, you probably wouldn't be in business. Your differentiator is there, you just have to find it.
  4. Who is your audience? Is it the same as your competitors’? (In some cases, it isn’t, and you’re wasting effort chasing the wrong people.)  
  5. What actions can you take, either online or in real life, to let more people know about you? 
  6. When considering digital ads or social media posts, how can you add personality? 
  7. Are you brave enough to take your work into your “other” life to make sure your friends and circles know about you? So often we have a group of people in our lives who know us, but don’t think of us when recommending people. What can you do to get in their heads next time someone asks them for someone who does what you do? 

Notice that these are not necessarily marketing strategies as much as business strategies. How you position yourself from the start significantly impacts your marketing approach. (See Tip 1 in this post.) 

As you talk, you’ll no doubt produce a list of thoughts. Some are going to be good; some are not. Choose the best one and start there. You don’t want to try too many things at once, or you won’t know what worked. 

If you’d like to bounce ideas off someone, you know where to find us.

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