When it comes to marketing our businesses, have you noticed how most of us like to fish where the fish are? We use the same words to describe what we do as our competitors - because we assume that's what the market wants. Give the market what it wants and you can't go wrong – right?
Unfortunately this doesn't necessarily work. Because by simply offering the market what we think it wants, we end up offering the same things as our competitors. And from the customers' perspective, it ends up looking like a sea of 'sameness.' They simply can't tell the difference between one company and another.
Do a Google search on Lawyers in Sydney and the same words pop up nearly everytime (go ahead, give it a go). Words like 'experienced,' 'tailored,' 'understanding' and 'high level' appear on virtually everyone's website. Boredom sets in for the customer.
Everyone is rushing to say the same thing. Everyone is 'zigging.'So how about trying a different strategy? How about 'zagging' instead?
Bit risky isn't it? Well no actually. As long as your 'zag' is founded on the truth about what really makes you and your business tick, and addresses a fundamental customer need – then it's actually a lot safer.
Why don't more businesses 'zag?' The answer is complex – but it has a lot to do with the perceived safety of herd mentality, and the popular belief that it's simply too hard to innovate or offer something new – because if it was that easy, some one would have already thought of it.
So instead of 'zagging,' businesses spend money on a new logo and a flashy website. They think that slapping some paint on the problem will fix it. But this solution is only skin-deep. Their 'point of difference' remains the same. It might look a little different at first glance, but it lacks substance. People will quickly see that nothing's really changed.
OK – so we've decided to give the 'zag' theory a go. Where do we start?
How do you go about creating a real point of difference for your business?
Well the good news is that you already have one. That's because if you run a small to mid-sized business, you are your brand. As the owner an SME brand, your own personality and sense of purpose are reflected by that brand. People see you as the brand. And as we all have a unique set of skills, and a different view of the world from everyone else – it means our brands automatically have the potential to be unique.
As the owner of your business, how do you tap into this innate uniqueness?
The first step is to ask yourself what really motivates you about the work you do? What's your underlying purpose? What do you want to change about the market you operate in?
This is the first stage of creating a story about your business that's founded on the truth about you. The truth about what drives you as a person, and what difference you want to make in your market. The truth about what you love doing – what inspires you. Once you do this, you and your business are aligned. You feel unstoppable – because you are doing what you are supposed to do – not what someone else thinks you should. Isn't that why you left the corporate world in the first place? To do work you really enjoy? To make a difference?
Armed with this new approach, you can take the mask off and be yourself in your business. You can use language that comes naturally, rather than to reach for the clichéd business terms everyone else is using.
Why a story? Because this is personal – it is your story – woven into your business. And because we all love stories – we've grown up with them. They engage us – entertain us.
And of course if you need help creating your story, we're here to help. It's what we do.