One of the biggest mistakes I see many small businesses – especially startups – make is that they try to market like everyone else does. That is to say, they see what their competition is doing, and then they try to emulate it. That’s fine if you have an unlimited marketing budget and you’re OK with wasting money; however, I don’t think either of those describes any business in the history of the world. The problem with emulating the competition is that they’re already established and have most likely figured out how to maximize their return on investment from the campaigns you see. It’s tough to compete when competitors have an established edge.
Instead of emulating competitors, you need to outdo them. Don’t just be different. Be outrageous.
Now, before you start shivering to potential PR nightmares, I don’t mean you should pull publicity stunts that could be threatened by public backlash. I don’t mean you should make inaccurate statements or do anything that would compromise your company’s image or integrity. What I mean by being outrageous is to take that extra step to make sure you get noticed with every marketing campaign you launch. Consider the direct-mail postcard campaign, a tried-and-true way to yield new business. Your competitors might routinely launch postcard campaigns. If you want to do the same, make your postcards bigger: a 6-inch by 11-inch postcard will certainly command more attention than a 4-inch by 6-inch postcard! How about statements you make about your business? When Rackspace, a hosting company, wanted to promote its support services, it didn’t settle for saying “we have great support.” No, they promoted “Fanatical Support.” The statement is more attention-getting, memorable and outrageous – and it worked. No matter what business you’re in, you can come up with ways to be outrageous without compromising your brand. Don’t settle for the same ol’ same ol’, don’t emulate competitors, and don’t hold yourself back from positioning yourself as the best in your industry – no matter how outrageous that might seem.