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Dare to be Different

More and more businesses seem to be afraid to do or be something different. I'm not quite sure why, but in this world of constant marketing noise and more severe competition, being conservative with your marketing will get you no where. Now is the time to shed your “me too” marketing and do something interesting that gets the attention of your prospective clients.

Stuck in a Rut

Many businesses get stuck in a rut of success. But when a business is successful, they have an attitude of “don't fix what's not broken” and “keep doing what we're doing because it works”. The business wallows in its success and becomes complacent. When a business is complacent, it becomes the prime target of a competitor that will find a way to sweep in and take over the market you comfortably own.

These times are not for complacency. The business climate is tough and there are many competitive businesses vying for your customer's dollars. Your business needs to incorporate marketing as an integral part of your business and you need to constantly be looking for ways to stand out, not only to new prospects, but to your current customers as well.

Taking an Objective View

When was the last time you sat back and took a hard look at your company's entire image from the view of a customer? Does your business come across as nothing special? Do your prospects see your company as an innovative enterprise that can help them be more successful? Do you offer products or services that beat the competition in customer satisfaction?

Evaluating your company can be difficult for business owners because we are very close to our businesses. We may underestimate our value and uniqueness and miss opportunities to really shine. It is also hard to see where we may be weak and where our competitors may attack. It would be valuable to your business to get an outside opinion to help you develop a plan to really exploit your strengths in a way that will get you more business quickly.

Also evaluate your competition and see what they are delivering as key messages. This is not an exercise to copy what they are doing but an exercise for you to determine what your business does that is different from your competition. Most likely you will find all your competitors saying the same thing. If you lay out all of your competitors' messages side by side, could you tell which message belonged to which company? Probably not.

Once you have evaluated your company, the competition and identified areas that you could exploit more aggressively, you now need to reevaluate your marketing plan and determine whether there is a change required in your marketing strategy. Marketing is more than the outbound communication that most of us see and hear daily. Marketing is about understanding your target market, finding out what they need and are willing to pay for and then creating an offer they cannot refuse. Take a look at the following for your business:

  • Is it time to reposition your company in the market?
  • Can you add a new service that offers more value to your customer?
  • Are your messages hitting the target right between the eyes?
  • Can you package your services and price them in a way that really makes you different and more appealing to your target audience?
  • Brainstorm and be creative about your business. Break out of the rut and do something different.

    Spice Up Your Business with Daring Marketing

    Once you have identified your new business strengths, you need to tell the world about them. This is where you can do something really different that grabs the attention of your target market. Spend some time brainstorming with colleagues to develop some new ideas and strengthen your company's marketing messages. Stop trying to be the same as all your competitors and create something that your competitors will want to copy. Marketing can still develop creative, new ideas that make you stand out. Everything has not been tried and it is the innovative company that wins in this market.

    Spice up your marketing by using non-traditional techniques. Make use of controversy in your advertising campaigns if you can. The Dove® advertising campaign that uses “real” women to push Dove's new firming collection of lotions and creams is considered controversial because the women aren't the typical “perfect” model that you would expect in campaigns that show women in their underwear. This campaign has gotten a lot of publicity from talk shows to Oprah. Can you present your message in some way that is different from the norm? It doesn't have to be an advertisement to use controversy. Direct marketing can accomplish the same thing.

    Innovative Businesses Stand Out

    More businesses would be better served by innovation. Whether you are in financial services, legal, consulting or any service business, the more innovative your offerings, the more your business will stand out from your competition. Determine what your clients and prospects need and define a product or service to fulfill those needs. Be creative and package your services in a way that makes it very profitable for you but provides a high value service to your clients. When you have that service package in place, get creative in your marketing.

    Take creativity to the next level for your web site or other sales tools. Make use of color, imagery, and design that is different from your competitive peers. Get noticed with something that stands out. Too many business owners feel that doing something different would risk their reputation. The best thing you can do to differentiate your business from your competitors is to look different when a prospect first visits your web site. Being different will not chase your ideal client away if you have done your homework. On the contrary – your different look should attract your ideal client if you know what they want.

    Don't Become Invisible

    It is too easy for us to conform. There is no risk in looking like your competition (or so you think). But successful businesses are those that integrate marketing into the heart of their business and are not afraid to do something different. I'm not condoning out of character marketing to get attention. But just because a marketing activity may seem a bit “hokey”, it doesn't mean it won't work. If you are afraid to take a risk and be more aggressive in your marketing, you are risking more than your reputation. Test out something different. Your results may surprise you.

    Ms. Murphy is a marketing consultant with a background in computer science, management, and marketing. With more than 20 years experience in marketing, her specialty is strategic consulting and management of focused marketing programs, ensuring businesses reach their ideal target market. Debra is a contributing author of Create The Business Breakthrough You Want: Secrets and Strategies from the World's Greatest Mentors featuring business giants Brian Tracy, Robert G. Allen, Bob Proctor and Mark Victor Hansen (Chicken Soup for The Soul) and endorsed by Dr. Stephen Covey and Ken Blanchard. Debra is based in Massachusetts and can be reached at 508.303.0766 or via email at For more information or to subscribe to her monthly newsletter for businesses that want more clients, visit

    Read other articles in this issue:

    Direct Mail That Works
    Dare to be Different
    The "R" Word

    Newsletter Overview

    June 4, 2020

    Direct Marketing Tips

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