Dare to Be Different?
I picked up on an expression lately that I found was really interesting: “Sheepwalking”, referring basically to our general tendency to follow the norm, doing what everyone else is doing and I guess basically conforming to a general expectation or code of practice or behaviour.
We apply this to everything we do in our lives from the anguish of “What will everyone else be wearing?” to “I really have an opinion but I dare not say anything”.
There is a risk of embarrassment and feeling a little self conscious when you go that little bit out of the way but the person that is generally remembered will probably be the one who dared to be different.
When it comes to your business the same logic applies and you could argue that in the present climate it would be very risky to do anything that it is a little different. “Keep the head down”; “do what we always do”; “play it safe”. Sounds familiar? We are conditioned to obey the rules, stay within the lines of the conventional way of doing things and stay within the normal boundaries and expectations.
Now let’s turn the argument on its head and explore the dark side!
In the current economic climate, or in fact anytime for that matter: ‘Is it a bigger risk not to be different’?
Unless your business is one of few exceptions, you are feeling the effects of the recession and every day you are constantly making tough decisions; cutting back on staff, reducing wages, cutting back on marketing activities, supplying customers whose payments have slowed up, dropping prices, selling or even liquidating the business. We are all caught in this storm and are boxing our way through it in ways that are probably new to most of us.
Is it a time for playing it safe or should you dare to be different?
• Cut back or proactively look for the unique opportunities?
• Pull back or start marketing creatively?
• Pay it safe or Dare to be Different?
There are no right or wrong answers to these questions but if it is right for your business to be proactive, it is clear you need to get maximum return for your activities and your investment.
Daring to be Different will get you noticed and will bring you the greatest return for your investment and change how the marketplace views your business.
What do we mean exactly by ‘Daring to be Different’?
Tick the Box and the Wild Card?
“Ticking the Box” is doing the normal thing for every situation: the typical advertisement, the typical sale, the typical window display, the typical mail shot, the typical response to a query, the typical company policy, the typical special offer, the typical business card, the typical sales presentation, the typical advice, the typical packaging, the list goes on..
“The Wild Card” is pushing out the boundaries and exploring some ideas that were never tried before in all these situations and considering them. Some of these you will throw out as being too costly, impossible to execute and totally impractical, but some might actually stay in the mix and merit further consideration.
Eventually you will land on a wild card ‘type’ idea that is feasible but will make you feel uncomfortable because it is not the norm and after all what will people think? What will my boss think? What will my customers think? What will my potential customers think?
The idea will be debated in the business and some will totally disagree and feel it is the wrong thing to do. Democracy probably won’t help you here unfortunately – Daring to be Different will involve someone being forceful and putting their opinion and conviction on the line. When you are in this ‘uncomfortable’ territory you have entered the ‘Dare to be Different’ zone.
Go for it? – This is a really tough one and you have to have a good look in your business mirror and decide what type of organisation and culture do you have.
The answer depends on a few simple criteria:
1. Make sure everyone is on board with the objective – at least agree on this much!
2. Ensure the business is capable of executing the idea properly
3. Does the culture support those with the conviction of their beliefs? There is no place for ‘the sitting on the fence brigade’ rehearsing patiently for the moment that they can recite a chorus of ‘I told you so’.
What if it does not work? – The worst that will probably happen is that you will get noticed and you move on and try the next thing. At least you tried and were positive – This is a good thing.
Let’s try a little experiment to test the ‘Dare to be Different’ argument by answering a few questions?
• What adverts can you remember having read through the newspaper today?
• What adverts can you remember on the TV and Radio from this morning or last night?
• What special offer that came through your letter box did you actually read instead of filing in the waste paper bin?
• Which bank would you consider switching to because they are doing something or anything different to the others?
• Which window display made you stop and consider going into the shop?
• What rep made a presentation to you that really impressed you by the level of preparation?
• What customer rang you and was really honest about being in difficulty instead of ducking and diving your calls? (Might you go the extra mile to help him out or call in the 7 day letter crew?)
• Which business card did you actually notice?
• Which politician really stood out in the local elections?
• What brochure did you actually stop and read?
• What event did you attend and you still talk about it?
• What product feature made you consider a product above another one?
• What have you seen or heard lately that made you laugh, smile, angry or talk about after and debate?
Whichever way you decide to go ‘Daring to Be Different’ is something to really consider for your business.
Do you have a culture that will support it? If not forget about it. However if you do, then you should strongly consider going for it. It may feel uncomfortable at first, but it will get you and your business noticed, something we all need right now.
Do you Dare to be Different?