Don’t blend in; it’s certain death by camouflage. If there’s ever been a time to be a round peg in a square hole, it’s now.
Many, maybe even most products or services within the same category aren’t particularly unique or memorable, they might do a very good job, but then all your competition might do exactly the same job. If you deliver a service just as well as the next guy or you produce a product that meets the customer’s expectation perfectly every time, but so do your competitors, then how do you stand out? You’re vanilla in a sea of vanilla.
… And all this is assuming your prospects can find you in over eight hundred million websites. That’s another whole discussion. But lets assume for now that you are being held up and compared to 2 other companies that produce (for example) a cola product. You’re RC Cola (remember them?) going up against Coke and Pepsi. They essentially all taste the same (with all due respect to cola connoisseurs) but advertising budget wise, well I’m sure you can guess who comes in at #3. So, what do you do?
Come out from behind the corporate curtain; build trust through transparency. Have your message come from one person in your company that is real, has a name and a face to go with it. If he or she is funny, let that come across in blogs or newsletters. If they’re philosophical or analytical let it show, that too may have a huge audience. Put up their picture, tell your company story through them. You’ve just become real to your clients; someone who is just like them. Create some company guidelines and then let employees blog about theirwork place. West Jet features employees who are owners in the company through the stock-sharing program. What better way to toot your horn.
Be a little bit Controversial
I remember as a young teenager asking girls if they’d like to Flick My Bick: I didn’t really even know what that meant but I suspected it carried a sexual connotation. The Media had made it somehow okay to say it. I don’t know what I would have done if anybody had ever taken me up on the offer but I had a Bick lighter in my pocket just in case things got awkward
Ashley Madison’s user base got hacked and was in the news for weeks and guess what? Their’ customer base got even bigger. If you hadn’t heard of them before, you knew who and what they were now.
Find the Humor
Not every company has a sense of humor and maybe your product or service doesn’t lend itself to being funny (funeral homes would have a tough time with this one) but the vast majority of businesses could lighten things up a little. All cultures enjoy humor but not everyone’s funny bone is located in their elbow. Who would have thought a candy bar commercial or a cereal campaign could have us laughing at it or singing along to it for comedy’s sake.
Snickers: You’re not yourself without a Snickers.
The California Raisin’s“I Heard it Through The Grapevine” Kellogg’s Raisin Brand
If you’re never going to be as big as the top dog in your field, it’s okay to admit that and even embrace it while you competing on some other platform. It worked for the Avis rent a car company in the 60’s. Remember the, “We try Harder Because We’re #2”, campaign? There was something very likeable and relatable in the vulnerability they showed in trying very hard to be #1 but still coming in 2nd. I’m not even sure now who was #1 , but I remember #2.
Whether people think you’re good or bad, in first place or second place they are thinking about you
Look for the Emotion
Ever noticed the variety of ad campaigns and company personas centered around love and commitment? To this day I want to drink Budweiser beer because it might bring me closer to that little lost puppy and his friend the Clydesdale, and I’m not even a beer drinker.
Step back and look at your company through someone else’s eyes. How might a farmer, or librarian or dancers perceive your company? You can’t be all things to all people but you can look for ways of standing out from the crowd when the opportunity arises.
“Tilly Endurables” took the opportunity to turn a basically unexciting, albeit well made, hat product into a story that lives with them till this very day. You may recall the story of the elephant trainer at a Toronto area zoo that had his Tilly hat snatched off his head and eaten by one of the elephants only to find it excreted three days later in a pile of um, elephant memorabilia. He washed it and continued to wear it making Tilly not only endurable but unforgettable ever since. Truly a unique story.