Differentiate Your Business (Line In The Sand)


You’re a business owner. You want your company
to survive, to have more revenue, more sales, more customers, more notoriety. Yet, the way
that most people go about growing their business is to do the same things that everyone else
does. To say the exact same phrases and use the same jargon that everyone else in their
industry uses. They play it safe by staying in the middle of the road. But this only ensures
failure. The most radical ideas are the ones that polarize people and force them to choose
a side. There was a guy — he was around a couple thousand years ago, and he had some
pretty radical ideas. He said some things that pissed a lot of people off. But the funny
thing is, even though he was selling his concepts for about three years, people are still talking
about him today. The thing of it was is he said he wasn’t here to please everyone. He
said he wasn’t here to unify people but he was here to make them decide whether they
were going to be in his camp or not. About four hundred years ago, there was a philosopher.
He actually had to go n the run for a little while in another country. But when he got
back, he published some books that changed how people thought about government. How people
thought about human understanding. And those works went on to become the basis of our Declaration
of Independence. In our own history, going back about 150 years, our President at the
time faced a lot of criticism for signing the Emancipation Proclamation. It wasn’t
popular. A lot of people didn’t like it. But it transformed our country and it paved
the way for a lot of other countries to do the same. You have to make people decide whether
they’re in your camp or not. Businesses fear alienating any part of their customer base
at all. They want to please everyone. They want to stay in the middle of the road. They
have the same Mission Statement as everyone else. “To be the best.” That mission statement
isn’t just there for a decoration. These are the values of your company. This is what
you stand for. And if you don’t stand for something, you’re not going to please anyone.
If you please everyone, you’re going to please NO ONE. Wishy-washy people have never
been leaders. Wishy-washy businesses become commodities. The only way to ensure growth
and survival and loyalty is to make people choose, to polarize people. And make them
say, “Am I in this camp, or am I not in this camp?” In our industry, the web industry,
it’s particularly bad. I see thousands of websites. They say basically the same things.
You’re trying to be everything to everyone. If you’re good at everything, you’re probably
good at nothing. Because if you try and be all things to all people all of the time,
and you try to cover every aspect of an industry, all at once — you’re going to be spread
so thin that you’ll have no depth of knowledge. You’re going to have no depth of expertise
on anything at all. You’re going to be paper thin. You’re not going to survive. Marketing
your business — any type of business — it comes down to three things. What do you do
better than anyone else? Who do you do it for? And why do you do it? People are going
to buy into why you do it (what you do). And if who you do it for looks like them, sounds
like them, talks like them, they’re going to buy into that. The what you do — if the
what you do is very specific to what they’re (your customers) are looking for, then you’re
going to be the obvious choice. But if you’re a one-stop place that does a bazillion things,
you’re not going to stand out. If your site is covered in marketing jargon that doesn’t
make sense to people…You have to reach through that website, and GRAB people — by the heart.
And they will know you’re speaking to them. Those that fail to define themselves will
simply fail. I’ve worked in the blue collar world, and I’ve worked in the web world.
And I’ve seen it in both worlds. There’s so many places that fail to differentiate
themselves from anyone else. So that’s a great opportunity for you. To be unique. Don’t worry
about the people in the middle. Worry about the people on the edges. Own the edge. Own
the outliers. Define what you’re doing as narrowly as you can. Make your stance. Draw
your line in the sand. What you’re doing. Who you’re doing it for. And why you’re
doing it. Think about the people that you respect as leaders of industry: people like
Walt Disney, Steve Jobs, George Lucas, Warren Buffet. People like Richard Branson, Elon
Musk. Even world leaders throughout history. The people like Mahatma Gandhi. People like
Nelson Mandela. These people took stances that were not popular. They defined what they
were doing. They went against the grain. They didn’t promise the same things as everyone
else. They didn’t follow the same things as everyone else. They went a path that everyone
told them not to go. But they did it anyway. When you’re defining your brand, you’re
defining your values, before you define your brand. What things will you do? What things
will you absolutely not do? What is your manifesto? When you define your philosophy, when you
define your values, when you define the culture of your business, you’re drawing your own
line in the sand. Who you are as a founder. Who you are as a business owner, that’s going
to trickle down into every aspect of your business. You have to really think about this.
If you are just trying to copy everyone word for word and use the same jargon that they
use — if you use the same marketing (ideas) that everyone else uses — if you target
the same audience as everyone else targets…“Our target market is everyone from 18 to death.”
Guess what? Now you’re competing with everyone. You’re going to lose. If you can narrow the
field of who you’re actually competing with to just a few people, your odds increase significantly.
Narrow the field. Don’t compete with everyone. Figure out who you want (as customers). Can
you build a tribe? Can you galvanize a customer base? Can you galvanize a following? Behind
your set of values, behind your philosophies? Behind the things that you say you will do?
And the things that you absolutely will not do? I had a friend a long time ago, he told
me there’s four types of people in this world: Type A’s, type B’s, type C’s
and type D’s. He said 85% of all people are Type B’s. And each one of these groups
is motivated by something differently. Their main motivation in life — for everything
that they do (is controlled by this motivation). So for Type B’s, and this 85% of everyone
walking the planet — their main motivation is to survive. And how they do that is by
blending in. Blending in with their surroundings. If everyone else around them is doing something,
they do it too. If everyone else around them dresses a certain way, talks a certain way,
thinks a certain way, then they do it too. This is a survival instinct. This is camouflage.
It’s an instinct. But in business, this will kill you. In sales and marketing, or online,
this will kill you. Because you’re competing with the whole world. You think you’re safe?
You think you’re going to get business by blending in? You’re going to blend right
into the scenery. You’re not going to stand out, you’re not going to be distinct. These
people who blend into their surroundings, they will never be thought leaders. They will
never build a tribe. Because they have not tightly defined what they’re doing, who
they’re doing it for, and why they’re doing it. Only a small percentage of people
are able to ignore that hard-wired survival instinct and go against the grain. All your
heroes have one thing in common. They took a chance when everyone else played it safe.
That’s the only thing that all of your heroes have in common. Ask yourself, “Who am I?”
This is going to define your company values. What things are you willing to do? And what
things are you not willing to do? Is the definition of your company a jargon filled diatribe full
of meaningless words that are void of any impact or resonance with your audience? Don’t
aim for unity. Aim for division. Am I on this side? Or am I on that side? Make them choose
That’s how you will win. You have to be distinct to be magnetic. You won’t attract
people to you if you’re wishy-washy and have completely generic values that everyone else
has. “To be the best!” “To be the top!” Don’t be afraid to stand out. It might go
against your instincts, but don’t be afraid to do it. My name is John Locke. My website
is LockedownDesign.com. I will be here, empowering people, building a business, and building
a community. One person at a time. One relationship at a time. Peace. John Locke is a web developer
and consultant based in Sacramento, California. You can find him online at LockedownDesign.com.

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About the Author: Oren Garnes

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