If You Want To Be Cool Again, You Have To Be Weird
The great philosopher Dr. Seuss once said, "We are all a little weird and life's a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love."
Are you ready to emerge from the shadows and raise your freak flag high? Your tribe is out there waiting for you to find them and call them in. To do this, you need to speak their language.
Being weird--being different--is the new cool. If you're not weird, you don't matter. You're invisible. It's what makes consumers pay attention to what you have to say and what you sell. Appealing to the masses in one-size-fits-all advertising no longer drives sales as it once did.
In Seth Godin's book, We Are All Weird, he writes, "During the age of mass (mass marketing, mass manufacturing, mass schooling, mass movements) the key was normal. Normal was important because you needed (were required) to fit into your slot. Manufacturers insisted because profits depended on it.
Normal diets made it easier for mass food manufacturers to generate a profit. Normal driving habits made it easier for mass car manufacturers to reach their production minimums. Normal behavior made you [consumers] easier to control.
But what happens when mass disappears? When we can connect everyone, customize and optimize--then what happens to normal?"
Weird becomes the new normal.
In this digital age, consumers have limitless purchasing options. If you're not different, you're not standing out, and nobody can see you. When you market to everyone, you market to no one.
What is the solution then? Find a niche, and make it so freakishly unusual that your customers will lose sleep at the mere thought of not being able to do business with you.
3 Steps To Finding Your Niche
1. Check Out The Competition.
If you want to forge your own path, you have to make sure you're not trudging down the same route as everyone else. It's good practice to keep your eyes on your competitors. Specific things to look for when checking out the competition include: types of services they offer, availability, accessibility, prices, customer service, weaknesses, and strengths. What holes in your market can you fill that your competitors aren't filling?
If you want to know to legally spy on your competition, check out this article, "25 Sneaky Online Tools and Gadgets to Help You Spy on Your Competitors." (This is also a great site to get expert content marketing tips.)
2. Talk To Your Customers.
It's pretty pointless to define a niche that nobody cares about or wants. Before you set off to reinvent the wheel, start by requesting feedback from your current customers. They can help you narrow down what's working and what's not, what they like and what they wish you could do better. A good way to solicit honest feedback is through customer surveys. One idea I found online consists of asking customers to rate on a scale from 1 to 10 features they value the most in the businesses they buy from. These include (but aren't limited to):
3. Know Which Customers You Want To Serve.
Do you know which group of weirdos you want to attract? When I first started out, I was thinking "anyone that will give me money." When you haven't seen the fruits of your labor yet, it's easy to skip the critical step of finding and building your tribe of customers.
If you don't know who you're selling to how do you know what to sell or charge? How do you know what type of experience your customers expect or what they value? How are you going to find out if they are the type of people you want to do business with? If you don't know them at all, you're basically just doing want no longer works, appealing to the masses.
“Your prospects are rarely looking for generalists. They want someone who has the knowledge and experience to provide the solution to their specific problem. When you are clear about whom your products and services really help, you’ll attract more customers and you can charge more because of your specialization.”
The generation of consumers you should be paying most attention to are the millennials. They've got the largest buying power, so make sure you've got a plan to make them your new best super weird friend. (By the way, this article gets 5 stars! I wrote it, so I'm a bit biased!)
Be bold. Be brave. And just go for it. Let your weirdness shine through loud and proud! Hopefully, your creative juices are flowing once you've had a chance to talk to your customers and check out your competitors. Here are a few ways you could distinguish your business. Be creative and enjoy this process of reinventing yourself.
- Offer something different: a guarantee, a complimentary service, a hug, a cookie, a diet coke. I would be a customer for life to any business who offered me a free diet coke each time I walked through their door. See? It doesn't take much if you know what gets your people excited!
-Solve a unique problem: In my fantasy, the store that delivers my groceries also puts them away. Imagine that. I've even thought of the same idea for laundry and moving services! This might be thinking too far out of the box, but who knows? If a business finds a way to make this happen, I will be first in line!
-Specialize In One Area: Pick one or two things you're good at and stick with those. Years ago, when I was a personal trainer, I found my niche running weight-loss groups for women. As I focused on enhancing and improving my niche, I found myself making more money, charging more, generating more referrals, and working less.
-Differentiate By Size: You don't have to be a big name to get attention. Many customers prefer working with family owned or boutique-style businesses who provide personalized attention and know each customer's name.
-Take On A Cause: This is big one with millennials who like working with brands that donate to causes and charities they care about. A good example of this is TOMs shoes. For every pair of shoes a customer buys, they donate another pair to a child in need.
If you have any questions on this topic, don't hesitate to ask. There's a lot more where this came from!