With Thanksgiving just around the corner, my immediate family decided to gather in Atlanta last weekend for an off-peak version of this annual event.
Was it because we were hoping to save money on the cost of a bird? No, but you raise a good point.
Rather, it was because with my three grown children spread out across the country like election night journalists – Atlanta, Denver, Portland Oregon – and my wife and me living in Massachusetts, the logistics of getting everyone together for a Zoom call, let alone a holiday, can get pretty complicated.
So, we decided to meet where one of them already lives and enjoy the reduced airfare, smaller crowds, fewer flight delays, and abundant availability of turkey-cooking-bags that comes with not celebrating the holiday at the same time as everyone else.
In other words, and as we marketing gurus like to advise, we took steps to “stand out from the crowd.”
Look for the Edges
You need not be a marketing guru (did I mention that I am one?) to appreciate the importance of differentiating yourself from those who sell what are essentially the same professional services: financial planning, management consulting, leadership coaching, etc.
The challenge in doing so, however, is that these types of services are difficult to sample (you can’t get 10 minutes’ worth of an estate plan to see how you like it), heavily trust-based, and at their core, pretty much the same as what’s offered by everyone else in your field.
The often missing piece, though, is that when it comes to the marketing tactics we rely on, we forget about differentiation and tend to fall in line and do the same things in the same way as everyone else … the exact opposite of standing out from the crowd:
We send greeting cards once a year at the holidays…
We launch a podcast in which we interview other business people…
We offer a free “get to know me” 30-minute session to prospective clients…
It’s all fine – it’s just not particularly interesting or different, and it certainly isn’t remarkable – all things that you, as a person marketing themselves, should be striving for.
You Don’t Need to Be Crazy
I am not suggesting that you rent a hippo, paint your logo on the side of it, and parade it through town (although, now that you mention it, you’d probably get people talking, if not hear directly from PETA).
However, I am saying that you look for things “at the edges,” where you can tweak the standard tactics and approach in a way that other people will notice:
Instead of sending holiday cards to your list at the exact same time as everyone else, what if you sent “Happy Adele’s Birthday” cards every May 5th?
Instead of opening each of your podcast episodes with that same used-car-commercial-voice-over guy announcing it, what if you had your 7-year-old introduce you?
Instead of creating power point slides filled with pithy bullet points, what if your next presentation had zero words and just pictures?
Instead of naming your company something like Innovative Strategic Marketing Solutions, what if you named it after a flightless aquatic bird (that’s just a hypothetical)?
Same tactics, more or less, but each with a little added zing, oomph, and “hey, look at that.”
Here’s the Bottom Line
It would be an oversimplification to say that the only purpose of marketing is to stand out from the crowd. But that is a key component.
So, in addition to differentiating yourself based on who you are, what you do, and how you describe it, spend some time creatively spicing up your marketing tactics themselves.
Let me know if you want to borrow a hippo.
- Have you ever rented a hippo?
- When is your birthday?
- What zesting thing do you do to differentiate your marketing tactics?
Share your answers below…