Why you need to be different.
We found a magical beach on the Bay of Fundy that is completely covered in beach glass.
The glass is absolutely everywhere - covering the seabed, in the rocks, under the seaweed. The stuff of dreams - the dreams of a beach glass hunter.
I was gonna need a bigger bag.
The first time I visited this beach I was overwhelmed. I just couldn’t believe it. We were alone on the beach and I started picking up just about every kind of glass I saw - big ones, small ones, really super worn down pieces, glass that looked like it broke yesterday, green, brown, white - everything.
Not long after we arrived, we were joined on the beach by two women who were carrying very small bags. Super curious, I had to ask them if they’d been here before and what in particular they were looking for.
Yes, they knew this beach well and they were looking for very specific types of glass. They were really focused on finding the rare glass - red, blue, amber. It seemed the white, green and brown glass was plentiful, and pedestrian. (and they probably already had boatloads of it at home).
On my second visit to the beach I still brought a big bag - I mean, you never know, right? But what I noticed about my friend who joined me - she was also being very particular about the glass she would pick up.
When we dumped out our “finds” afterwards on the dining room table (cuz that’s what you do, right?), I realized that she had focused on collecting only unique colours and glass that had a pattern, words or images - like pottery pieces.
And that got me thinking about your small business. (yes, YOURS!)
When you visit most beaches, beach glass finds are rare. So any gleaming piece of glass that catches your eye is a gem! It doesn’t matter what colour or how big. It is coveted! It stands out because it’s scarce. It doesn’t need to be unique.
Most beaches are like a marketplace where there isn’t much competition. You stand out just by offering your product or service. You are easily seen, recognized and chosen.
But when there is a beach teaming with beach glass - a highly competitive market - you become very particular about what you choose - you overlook the mundane, the regular - green, white, brown glass - and focus more on the unique pieces - ribbed, red, blue, patterned. If you don’t differentiate in this kind of market, you simply won’t get noticed.
So how do you get noticed on that beach covered in glass? or in that marketplace that is full of people that do the same thing that you do?
You need to be different. You need to stand out to be noticed.
And how do you do that?
You need to be you. There’s only one you. You need to let you stand out, and shine through.
You need to be the large piece of red beach glass in the pile of green and yellow pieces.
How do I differentiate myself from others who help small businesses with their marketing? I tell stories that connect to marketing advice. The stories help people get to know me better and the advice - hopefully - helps people build and grow their businesses.
I can only be me. It's like my secret weapon.
PS: I was on a podcast recently talking about how to get your storytelling juices flowing - more advice to help you differentiate. Listen in: How to use storytelling to win customers.
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The Small Business Guide
Kim Houlahan is a marketing consultant who loves helping small business owners improve their marketing.
Small Business Guide ~ Archives
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