Recently I did a Webinar and was asked myriad questions about how businesses should set themselves apart from the competition. This is Part One in a series of four articles that provides brain food about that topic for those who would like to go through this exercise with me.
Take stock of who you are.
It is vital to know who you are in the scheme of your business industry. In “our” (that’s the royal our) case, it is special events. Within this world of events, what specifically do you do best? Are you a great caterer? Or designer? Or an expert on technology? If you cannot define who you are, what you know, and at what you are best, no client can really take you seriously.
What defines you?
Are you someone who captures today’s trends? Are you always on the cutting edge of the newest and greatest? And, specifically what do you do to achieve this definition? Are you defined by whom you surround yourself? Are you an active member of the various industry organizations? Do you attend all the industry trade shows? Are you a teacher? Or a student? Again, this is specific.
What differentiates you?
Look at your competition’s website and collateral. Outline the key points they make. The words they use. Are yours the same?
If they are, change yours. Take your top three competitors and collect their collateral. Use a highlighter on the words in YOUR collateral that are the same words THEY use. Aha! Be different and set yourself apart.
What is the one thing at which you are best?
Instead of being everything to everybody, make a decision. Define specifically at what you are best. That doesn’t mean that’s all you do, but you need to create a focus. Are you the best spatial planner there is? Do you know how to drape fabric better than anyone? What is that one special thing no one can do better than you?
Take stock of what no one else is doing and find the opportunity in that.
Many years ago there was a time when no one really did interactive entertainment (hard to imagine nowadays). I took a leap of faith and introduced actors into all of my events so that we had living theater instead of voyeuristic experiences. If your client has a product that you promote through live events, be pro-active and become their living advertiser. A festival? A pop-up store? A sponsorship? The opportunities are endless.
Become an expert at something.
No one wants to hire an amateur, so use this analogy. Does Bono want to perform with a substandard band or is U2 comprised entirely of great musicians? You, too (pardon the pun) need to be outstanding (design, food, talent?) and then surround yourself with collaborators that enhance your offerings.
Be inclusive … embrace collaboration.
Do not hide the fact that you are working with other companies. If you are afraid that your vendors will sabotage you or that your clients will attempt to go direct to your vendors, those are people with whom you shouldn’t be working. Teams are “today”… today is “the sharing economy.” You simply do not know everything, so don’t claim that you do. Seek out partners that enhance what you already do and make yourself better as a result.
Explore vertical markets by finding your passion.
And if you have staff, find theirs too; they will work harder for those. If you are passionate about fashion, you would definitely be more excited about working for Gucci than a medical device company. If your heart beats faster when you fantasize about producing a movie premiere, you probably won’t be thrilled to call on an automotive client. When you are passionate about a subject, you learn all about it; you read all about it; you scan the web for every scrap of information. That, then, is the market you should be targeting. It’s what you are conversant and educated on.
Please share your thoughts or questions here with me in the comments below!