4 Ways to Make Your Business Stand Out and Get Noticed
It’s easy to think that business is this convoluted and difficult thing — that it requires skills that either take years to create, or that we just don’t have.
But business works just like real life. You’re talking to people, connecting with them, forming relationships, and living in this cycle of give and take.
And just like real life, if you blend in and don’t stand out, you’re going to miss your chance to connect because you’re saying the same thing that everyone else is saying. That’s even more true now that so much of our business is taking place online.
Being the same as everyone else won't get you very far
I was a weird kid. In fact, I’m a weird adult, too. I used to think of my weirdness as a bad thing that set me apart. I was worried that it made me the odd one out. I didn’t have trouble talking to people as a kid, but I did have trouble relating to other kids, I spent a good portion of 1992 dressed up like a cat, was called “bossy” more times than I can count, and created my own spell book because I was convinced that one day I was going to be a real witch.
As an adult though, especially an adult running my own business, I see that my weirdness is a huge asset. It’s what makes me who I am. It’s what makes me creative. And with a market totally full of other talented writers and communication experts, my skills alone don’t get me clients.
Instead, it’s visibility — and being me — that really seals the deal with clients. And this is why weirdness is so important. I can’t get noticed if I’m just blending in.
If you want people to notice you, you have to be worth noticing
What do you do that makes you different from other people?
As for me, I left my corporate job so that I could travel the world, and started my own business from the road. That’s pretty different.
One of my best people skills is getting to deeply know someone in 5 minutes or less, and understand people’s motivations. So there’s another thing.
And, you might not have picked up on it, but my writing is always about increasing emotional intelligence. So that’s a third part of my personality that sets me apart.
Just add a real, personal voice to it, and you’ve got a recipe for success.
How to Stand Out From the Crowd
Dial it up to 13
I don’t know if you’ve noticed this when talking with someone you don’t know very well, but subtlety doesn’t work so well over text.
New Friend Who Doesn’t Understand Subtlety: Want to go to that ramen place tonight?
You: I heard that new Italian place was also tasty.
New Friend Who Doesn’t Understand Subtlety: So we’re still on for 7 at the ramen spot. RAMEN ALL THE WAY!
The same applies to copy on the internet. I’m not saying you need to use all caps and exclamation points, but what I am saying is that if you’re going to use your voice, you have to use all of your voice. Have ideas. Make statements. Which leads me to…
Have an opinion
You know what drives me nuts? The fact that America is so broken, ignorant, and afraid that we would allow a racist mysogynistic, wanna-be-dictator like Donald-fucking-Trump to get a shot as a presidential candidate. That… is my opinion.
I know you know what opinions are. But putting it in writing can feel intimidating. It can feel combative. It can feel like we’re asking for a fight.
And maybe sometimes you are. But it might be a fight worth having.
Having an opinion forces people to choose and creates camaraderie with like-minded people. Are you with me, or are you with them?
Having an opinion also makes you human — and humans want to work with other humans.
Stand for something
While you’re out there having thoughts and forming opinions, why not create something to stand for? Tired of seeing people of color getting treated unequally because they were born with a slightly darker shade of skin? Say something. Happy that we’re slowly but surely working toward finding alternative energy solutions? Shout it out.
The wonderful (and also terrifying) thing about living life online means that you can show who you support, what you stand for, and rally people around you who also agree. Obviously, it can be used for good or evil, but it works.
Be who you really are
By now, you can probably see that this is what I’m getting at. Online, you need to be who you really are out in the world. And you’ve got to find a way to convey that through the content you promote, the voice you use, the words you choose, and how you interact with people.
Remember, it takes all kinds to make a world, and your kind of person could be just what someone else needs.
Overcoming Fear of Vulnerability
Okay, okay, I’m pretty sure you’re over there thinking, Yeah these sound like solid ideas, and I get that it’s important to be me, but what if… and then you create all these scary stories and scenarios and objections instead of just taking this advice. So, let’s talk about the main objections.
What if people don't like who I am?
Some people won’t like who you are. But more likely, who you are may just not resonate with certain people, and that’s okay. Instead of focusing on the worry of people not liking who you are, focus instead on finding people who share your interests, skills, and personality and connect with them.
You can do this by joining Facebook groups, participating in conversations on blog forums, or finding separate online communities that share your views.
What if people don't like what I say ?
Well, like I said before, some people aren’t going to like what you have to say.
I don’t like Ugg boots. I think they look silly and I don’t want to wear them.
Other people think they rock and can’t wait to slip on their fuzzy goodness. They’re allowed to their opinion, too.
I don’t worry about pleasing everyone, because it’s just not possible. Spend more time making sure that what you’re saying is what you actually think, and tailor that to your audience demographics. Joanna Wiebe at Copyhackers has some great insight into this very thing.
It's important to note that I'm only talking about things that are pretty small and unimportant, like Ugg boots. This absolutely does **not **apply to things like hate speech or viewpoints that promote or espouse hatred for other people. Those types of opinions are said in bad faith to create conflict and violence, and they should **not **be tolerated.
What if I'm not interesting enough to stand out?
Chances are you grossly underestimate how interesting you are. Since you know your whole story, of course it doesn’t sound that cool to you.
I remember when my grandma would tell me stories about how she grew up living in a box-car on the railroad (true story), and even though it didn’t seem interesting to her, it was fascinating to me, because I had no idea what that was like.
Remember that your story is new to every stranger you meet, so don’t assume they won’t find it interesting just because you’ve re-told it a million times.
So, Who Are You?
Figuring all this out takes time, and it will change as you learn more, have more experiences, and grow. That’s okay. The only constant thing in life is change, and if you don’t make new conclusions based on more information, then you’re doing life wrong.
Take the time to figure out who you are, and then share it with the world.