How do you get your market to notice, remember and value you, when there are so many competing and conflicting messages out there vying for their attention? And why is Tony recording this session from within a pillow fort?
In this episode Chris and Tony reveal:
- Why being different is not enough
- Taking the lead — and why that does not mean being an expert
- What it means to set up camp in your prospect’s brain
- How trying to please everyone will kill your brand
- The key positioning questions you need to be able to answer
Deadly Conversion Busters: How to Craft Your Uniqueness and Stand Out From the Competition
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Tony Clark: This is The Mainframe.
Welcome back to our Deadly Conversion Busters series. Today we are talking about crafting your uniqueness, and how to stand out from the competition.
How are you doing today, Chris?
Chris Garrett: I’m doing good. I’m just worried that the animals are going to cause a noise in the background.
Tony Clark: Yeah, let’s paint a picture for everybody. So we are recording on a Sunday because of some situations we both have going on. I have some renovation going on, so I’m actually in a podcasting fort. A bunker that I’ve constructed out of one of my kid’s gymnastics mat, some pillows and a basket.
It’s a pretty interesting place to be doing this, but I’m doing my best to keep my background sounds out as well because I’ve got a house full of kids and dogs too. Let’s see if we can get through this and sound as professional as we normally do, in our makeshift environment.
Chris Garrett: Yeah, this is why we don’t do video. I’m actually sat here in my pyjamas because it’s 9:15 am, and I don’t tend to get up early anyway, but especially on the weekend.
Tony Clark: I know, it’s funny. It’s a Sunday, I’ve already been out to the diner and had breakfast, so this is really it. This is the life, right? This is the dream. The podcasting dream. This is what people always imagine, so here we are.
Chris Garrett: Now you know why I usually do brunch, because I’m not up early enough for breakfast.
Why Being Different is Not Enough
Tony Clark: All right, so we are talking about uniqueness – how to set yourself apart from your competition. Which is one of those things that people tend to maybe skimp on a little bit because they are not really sure how to set themselves apart. So one of the things I wanted to cover in this show is some specific things you can do, or ways you can look out for setting yourself apart from your competition, so you can really show and demonstrate your uniqueness.
Chris Garrett: Yeah, and I think we have already established that we are pretty unique in that, you know, you’ve got fort kickass going on there, and I can still taste the toothpaste. So you know, we are not trying to be professional here, but I think the key point is, it’s not enough to be different. You have to be different with an advantage, and an example going in from anybody who is familiar with Copyblogger, will be familiar with Sonia. And the first thing people think about Sonia is, “Oh, that’s the lady with the pink hair.” It is one of the things that makes her unique, but that is not her advantage. That’s not the reason why you would turn to Sonia necessarily, over someone else.
Now it’s an indication that maybe there’s something that you would like, and it’s something that you can connect with and it makes them memorable, are all very important things. But the core of who Sonia is, and the thing that makes her valuable is not because she’s got pink hair — the pink hair is a symptom — it’s not the root uniqueness.
Tony Clark: Yeah, that’s a really good point. Sonia is a great example because she’s the whole package, and the pink hair is sort of a representation of that package. And you’ll see this a lot in good, solid branding and marketing. Not just creating a new logo or some colors, or trying to craft a message or a mantra or something, but there is a mystique and a quality of a leader in the field, and that leadership is really what you are trying to create with the uniqueness. The uniqueness of being a leader in your industry.
Taking the Lead — and Why That Does Not Mean Being an Expert
Chris Garrett: Yeah, and you may not be the leader, you might not be the number one, but you can carve out a category that you can be the leader in. And one of the things you’ve got to do is find where you can legitimately fit. Somewhere you can be the authority, without necessarily saying you are the number one world expert. So you don’t have to be the world renowned expert. You don’t have to have qualifications and you don’t have to necessarily have evidence in that sort of regard, but you have to stand out in a way that means something to people.
So what I like to get people to do, is a little exercise of filling the blanks. Add your own words to this phrase. “Unlike other ___________,” other designers, developers, writers, bloggers, “I/We __________,” so what do you do differently, “which means for you, ____________.” So “Unlike other websites, we have multiple authors, which means for you, you have different perspectives of a community.” Or, “Unlike other bloggers, I teach you how to make money from what you know, which means for you, you can build a business with lower traffic, and using your expertise.”
Just think about how you can stand out in a way that you can justify and be legitimate, that has an advantage for your prospect.
What it Means to Set Up Camp in Your Prospect’s Brain
Tony Clark: You are establishing that you are a leader in your area by a specific thing, and also you do this by creating a brand that can sort of stick your flag in a certain place. And you are creating this camp for your brand, inside the prospect’s brand. And basically you are identifying to your prospect that you are a leader in X, in this way, because this is what separates us from Y, which is the others in the crowd. And this brand is what we use to signify this, or demonstrate this.
Chris Garrett: Yeah, basically you are setting up Tony’s fort kickass in the prospect’s brain. And that is the key about branding.
Branding isn’t necessarily what you say, it’s not even necessarily what you sell. You know, we think about a brand as being like Apple. But really, the actual brand is what people take away from it. It’s what they remember. So Sonia’s pink hair might be what they remember, but attached to that, are all the associations. The positive experience, the learning, the humor, you know. Because you think about Sonia, you think she’s got a quirky way of phrasing things.
My wife does a lot of the transcriptions for Copyblogger, so my wife will stop the recording, take her headphones off and say, “listen to this” and it will be Sonia saying something like “scootie patooti,” and obviously this is going to be transcribed, so it’s a little bit meta. But Sonia has a fantastically unique way of phrasing things.
She has unique experience to draw from, and obviously with the pink hair she looks different. So all of those things add up to a memorable package, which associate all the good stuff with. But really her unique offer is, and how she positioned herself in the market was, she’s the person who can teach you marketing for people who don’t like marketing. And that means something to people. The people who want that, really resonate with it. Because Sonia is the opposite of the sleazy yellow highlighter salesperson.
Tony Clark: Yeah, really what you are trying to do here is get something around your brand that sets you apart from other people.
I mean, there are some examples even in the publishing world. Look at some of the places where you have a glut of content, a glut of publishing happening. Like science fiction and fantasy, which Chris, you and I read a lot of. Look at authors like Brandon Sanderson with his Misbourne series. Here is somebody who has taken a unique spin on a method of magic, and created a world around it that really set him apart. There was something different.
Really the stories that are in the Misbourne series are similar to what you would read in other fantasy series. You know, going back to Tolken or George R. Martin or others, but because he’s put his own unique spin on the magically techniques of that world, it’s created an entire mini-brand for the Misbourne series.
So that’s an example of using a unique voice, or a unique approach to something, to really set you apart from other people that are kind of doing the same thing. So you can basically tell a very similar story, but by approaching it in a different way, you are really creating a new identification for that brand, or a new way of identifying how this can be done. You know, this might sound similar to what you have done before, but this is a unique spin on it.
Chris Garrett: One of the things out of what you have just said Tony, we can takeaway as well, is the care and attention, and the thought that has gone behind that.
I mean Brandon Sanderson has done seminars and long articles about how he put everything together. Other people try to replicate it but all they are doing is copying, right?
Tony Clark: Yeah, and that’s another author, Hugh Howey, who created the Wool series, among others. But the Wool series really took off on Kindle, and he wasn’t the first, there were other people before him, but he’s one of the ones who really established himself as this Kindle author who has become a success through publishing through the Kindle system. Basically using the tools that are there. And he does the same thing. He writes about how he’s used the tools that are available, and the techniques and creating a community to build his world, and his success around his writing.
You can’t just copy that, but you can use the same techniques. However, you need to bring in your own voice. And that’s what this is really about. This is about your voice. You can take the same steps, use a similar formula but if you have a unique voice, it will really set you apart and makes you something different than anything else that’s out in the field.
The Sneaky Strategy We Have Behind This Podcast
Chris Garrett: Yeah, and that kind of brings us to the sneaky, evil strategy we have behind this podcast.
Two things that we set out to do was one, be ourselves, because we can’t be anybody else. I don’t think it would be authentic if Tony and I tried not to be geeks. And the second thing is, we really try to over deliver in terms of content, whilst trying to keep the episodes below 30 minutes, which right now I think we are probably going to have to wrap this up very soon.
But two principles that will give you value is, be ourselves and really try to deliver on a lot of information. And people have noticed that in Twitter. In reviews they’ve said, “Tony and Chris are giving away the farm.” But the whole idea is that you get value out of this, in a way that you wouldn’t get from somebody else. So you’ll remember it, and you will tell other people.
So yeah, it’s not really sneaky or evil, it’s pretty obvious.
People try to copy somebody else’s strategy and it never works. So part of your brand is being authentically you. You can emphasize your best bits and de-emphasize the bits that you are not too proud of, but make it authentically you as well.
Tony Clark: Right, which carries us to our third key point in this.
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How Trying to Please Everyone Will Kill Your Brand
Tony Clark: And that main key point, or that third key point is focus. Really understanding what it is your bringing to the table and how to really hone in on that very specific market, and that very specific message that you are trying to deliver, that sets you apart from everybody else. Right, Chris? I mean that’s what focus is really all about.
Chris Garrett: Yeah, because for two reasons. One, we have said so many times in this podcast series, you are not going to please everybody. And in trying to do that, you are going to become generic, you are going to become commodity but also, you want people to remember you.
Now, you might think, “But I’ve got all these faults.” You will find that some of your faults and imperfections, and the things that make you authentically you, will actually be charming and resonate with other people. And it’s amazing that people try to be something they are not. They try to be this superhero. They try to be perfection, and actually talking about superheroes, one of the reasons I don’t like Superman is because he’s overpowered. I like Spiderman because he’s flawed, right? Also because he’s a nerd. It’s these things that allow people to connect with you.
It’s like Lego bricks, right? You need to have the little nodes and holes for people, that sounds terrible, but you need connection points for people to fit into your world. If you focus, then you are going to find your people – the people you can help, the people you can reach. If you are just vague, and bland and generic, who’s going to remember you?
Tony Clark: Right. And the two main things about focus is, is focusing on the customer and what’s in it for them, and then being able to demonstrate and prove to them that you can deliver on what you said. That’s also part of being unique.
Being unique, but then not being able to deliver what you say, isn’t going to get you anywhere. There’s a lot of people out there that are unique, or weird, or different, but they are not bringing their uniqueness to offer them something, better their life, give them a leg up or more success. So if you approach it from that focus of focusing on the customer, and being able to continually deliver to them, that’s what really makes uniqueness great, not just the fact that you are different.
Chris Garrett: Yeah, we talked about attracting a targeted audience in a previous episode. You’ve got to attract them with the right message, and you’ve got to be able to show them that you can help. So all of this connects together and it’s really like the foundation of your fort kickass. You’ve got to build a solid foundation before you can even try to accelerate or grow your business. You’ve got to have this core that connects with people, in a way that they can believe.
The Key Positioning Questions You Need to be Able to Answer
Chris Garrett: So in the next episode we are going to be talking about turning fear into trust – that’s a big part of this. But before you get there, you need to know what you are going to do for people, how you are going to reach them, how you are going to reach them in a way that they are going to remember, and this comes down to your sales materials. It comes down to your headlines. It comes down to choosing a domain, because that domain has to be memorable as well. But also connect with your unique brand and your positioning. And you have to start gathering proof. You have to start building your case studies and your testimonials, but most of all, it comes down to “what’s in it for me?” and “what’s in it for me” in a way that only you can really deliver on.
Tony Clark: Yeah, one of the things that this does, is it allows you to approach uniqueness in a way, because what we talking about in this series, Conversion Busters, we are talking about using your uniqueness to convert versus looking bland like everybody else.
But you know, it’s a double-edge sword. If you can’t deliver on the goods, then your uniqueness actually works against you. So you have to build on that brand, that trustworthiness from the perspective of the customer – what’s in it for them, and demonstrate it from the perspective of “I have now used my unique leadership in this community, in this field, in this industry, to provide you a level of success that only I could deliver.” And by actually proving it to them, then you are reinforcing that you are unique in this field. You are something different, something special, as opposed to just being different.
Chris Garrett: Yeah, and when you get that, people can refer people to you. They can tell other people about you because they will know what you can do, how you stand out and why you are the best at what you do.
Tony Clark: And they’ll want to be part of that. It helps to build the community because when you have that unique voice, and your customers feel like you are really delivering on that voice, they want to talk about you and then help you build that community. You get a lot of word of mouth and you get evangelists from your community out of it.
Chris Garrett: Yeah, if nothing else you become interesting, right?
Tony Clark: Exactly.
Tony Clark So uniqueness is about these things that we have covered, these main topics here. Chris, how would you wrap all this up? What are the main takeaways from this?
Chris Garrett: First of all, you have to become the leader. Not necessarily the world renowned expert, but lead, don’t follow the pack. Don’t try to copy what other people are doing – be you. And make that brand memorable, so that fits into your design, your domain, your content, but most of all, you have to fit into where people want to be, what they want to do, what they want to achieve and then focus. Don’t try to please too many people with too many things. And it comes down to what’s in it for me? and then proving it.
Tony Clark: And that proving it is key, and that builds trust, which is what we are going to cover in the next episode, when we talk about turning fear into trust.