Standing out from the crowd in the coming year
The one thing you don’t want to be, going into this new year, is just like everyone else. At the start of the recession, the first startups, brands and businesses to die weren’t the ones with the highest prices, it was the ones with the me-too attitudes.
Sometimes it didn’t even matter if they were in the market first, or had a smaller competitor with fewer resources.
Of course this is an oversimplification, especially once a startup grows, since there are many reasons why it could fail. But failure is actually the most common state for new businesses, only one in 12 startups succeed, for a variety of reasons.
The rocky path to success for businesses
Standing out and being different may not be the only marker in the route to success, but it’s certainly not a typical indicator of impending doom., and there are other reasons you want your business to stand out. Maybe you’re in a competitive market and want to get noticed. Perhaps you’re hoping to get funding, and don’t want to be lumped in to the other countless groups that also need startup cash.
It could be as simple as wanting yours to be the email your time-pressed customer opens. In short, there are many ways being different can make a positive impact on the future of your company.
How to stand out by having fewer, deeper relationships
In marketing practices, this is known as targeting your market. The idea is that having a market that includes everyone is a fast road to failure. Most of us have made this mistake at one time or another.
Our logic goes like this: if we create a product that anyone would like, then the most possible people will buy it, and we’ll then be stinking rich.
Even if one day, we’re allowed to sell air, this thinking causes a huge waste of resources. Targeting everyone means you spend the same amount of money to get the person who is least likely to buy, as you do on the person who is not only going to sell everything you buy, but also tell everyone they know.
This targeted person is in the minority (see the 80/20 rule, especially in examples outside of economics). Additionally, since this targeted person may be the one who brings you all the customers you can handle anyway, that is the person you should profile, research and target.
That’s how this goes for marketing, but you’d do well to apply this to as many areas of your business as you find it makes sense. This doesn’t mean throw the 80% away – if 80% of your sales are made by one-time purchasers, that might not make sense for you. However, focusing more marketing efforts on finding people who are most like your 20% has the potential to change your business altogether.
How the 80/20 rule applies to relationships
When you apply the most focus on the very best business relationships you have built rather than trying to connect with every person online, you create stronger, more effective bonds where you need them the most – whether that is with vendors, customers, partnerships, clients, joint ventures, peers, mentors, software, books you read, or websites you follow.
In the few weeks leading up to the New Year, evaluate where you’re getting the most out of your relationships. Don’t forget people who have helped in the past that you have lost touch with, or past customers you never tried to sell to again, or folks who attempted to reach out to you that you missed out on responding to recently.
Here’s one specific thing you can do differently – spend less time on social media, with fewer people. Use social media to get acquainted with the people you want to meet, then follow up offline in about a week to develop a better friendship. If you can’t meet them in person, try a video Skype meeting, or a good old fashioned phone call.
Try this just for January, then compare the results you got out of your social media connections to the last month “normal” month you had (for example, if you’re in retail, you may want to compare it to October or some other month that doesn’t have a seasonal boost).
In part two and three of this series, I will outline additional ways you can start standing out from the crowd that may surprise you – stay tuned.