A few years ago I drank the most delicious beer that has ever existed. Seriously.
I was sitting with my husband in the rooftop bar of the Pompidou Centre (as you do). The afternoon sun was glinting off the Parisian rooftops. We were surrounded by beautiful French hipsters with their Gauloises and don’t-give-a-sh*t expressions.
Our waiter brought over our two beers – golden in colour, with little bubbles dancing their way to the top of their frosted glasses.
And when we took a sip – oh my! This was the nectar of the gods! So delicious!
What was this silky elixir, we wondered? Some kind of craft beer unique to the Pompidou, brewed from drops of Rothko’s tears? Or distilled from Warhol’s sweat…?
We excitedly asked our nonplussed waiter who answered with a Gallic shrug:
No way! Heineken? That bog-standard beer available in every supermarket? Nooooooo! Surely it wasn’t the same heavenly fluid we’d been drinking?
But of course it was.
And the reason it tasted so damn good had nothing to do with the beer itself. We’d been seduced by the views, the ambience, the feeling that we belonged with cool French hipsters, if only for an hour or two.
All of these factors had influenced how we’d experienced the beer and our opinion of it.
And I always tell this story to my clients when they worry that their product or service isn’t unique enough.
Because of course we all aim to provide something unique, different – a unicorn product or service does something completely new.
But, in reality, few of us actually achieve that. We offer flavours or variations on a theme. Tweaks on what’s gone before or what’s already out there. We operate in crowded markets.
And that’s ok.
As Harry Truman said: “There is nothing new in the world except the history you do not know.”
Not A Unicorn? Fine By Me!
There are thousands of beer companies, restaurants, lawyers, coaches, accountants and even (gasp) marketing consultants out there doing pretty much the same thing. What sets them apart is their approach.
So instead of wasting time fretting about the originality of WHAT you do (which you might not have much scope, time, money, energy or will to change), try focussing instead on HOW you do it. How is it unique to YOU?
What’s your take on your market? Your twist?
What conventional wisdom do you disagree with?
What amazing customer experience can you give YOUR clients (your equivalent of the Parisian rooftop bar) that will boost how they think and feel about your offering?
How can you inject your personality into your brand and business?
What’s your superpower? Do you make complex financial concepts super easy to grasp? Do you make terms and conditions interesting? Do you conduct coaching (as one amazing and successful coach I know does) solely via instant message?!
It’s all of these factors, not just the bare bones of your product or service, that make people buy from you.
So, if you want to stand out in a crowded market you need to communicate clearly HOW you do business, not just what you do.
If you do this well, you might just refresh the parts other businesses can’t reach…