“Is it not dangerous to have students study together for years, copying the same models and approximately the same path?” – Theodore Gericault, Born Sep. 26, 1791.
People who study marketing WITHOUT doing much ACTUAL marketing will all learn the same way.
They read the same books. They copy the same winning ads. They learn the same thinking and writing patterns as the imitators before them learned from some long-ago innovator.
And hey, there's certainly value in learning past successful strategies and the contexts that made them effective.
But when practically everyone out there is marketing the same way, using the same tools and the same ideas in response to the same problems…
Well, it's super easy to stand out against that. IF you have a background and willingness that allows you to create a contrast to their sameness.
So what informs and infects your marketing mind?
Not other popular famous marketing stuff… What weird and unique combinations of diverse ingredients are you feeding your brain with?
Because that is where new ideas come from. That is where innovations begin, which imitators can only copy and never create.
All of them working the same way creates a pattern. You be the one to break it and offer something different. Not necessarily superior, even. Just different enough to capture attention.
And when that once new and interesting pattern-breaker gets to be copied so much that it creates a new boring pattern of sameness, guess what you do?
Break it again.
Lest you mistake me for saying no one should study, and everyone must be original…
That's not what I said. Do study.
But study from the standpoint of looking at your competitor's playbook. Then go beyond it with outside study of your own, and then outplay them.
Here are a handful of ways to differentiate yourself in a crowded field of imitators and same-ness…
1. Check out the old chestnuts in your niche. The advice and books and wisdom allegedly carved in stone. Pick some details you disagree with, then set about proving them wrong. Once you do, argue with them publicly. After all, you’ve proven them false.
2. Adapt solutions from other fields so they can be used in your niche. In other words, swipe the well-worn wisdom from some other arena and be the first to plug it into yours. It will seem fresh even when you give full credit, and the innovation will stick to you. Kind of like these quotation posts I make – which is an idea I stole from televangelists who quote scripture instead of celebrities.
3. Look for ways you can lump all the current taste-makers in your field into a boring box. Are they all old? Are they all out of touch? Are they all cut from a certain cloth? How are you going to “zag” their “zig”? Make a list. “They” are (boring lame description) while YOU are (the opposite).
BONUS. Look for the ingredients you have that are unique in your field. Background. Genetics. Experience. Upbringing. Education. Hobbies. Even if they aren’t singularly unique, the combination of these things that leads to YOU has made you into a completely original individual. There is no copy of you. And when you integrate details from this list of differentiators into what you do, it makes your content and products and services just as unique. Your prospects couldn’t buy it from a competitor if they tried, because nobody does it like you do.
If these are useful (or at least sensical) leave a comment and tell me what you think.