So what we’ve basically been talking about here is thinking outside the box, getting creative. But how do you actually DO that?
Here’s what normally happens: we see someone doing something on the internet — or, more often, we see a LOT of someones doing something on the internet — and we decide to try it for ourselves.
But once something reaches a critical mass of popularity, it’s no longer as useful at helping you stand out. Think about our spotlight metaphor; if everyone in the room has a spotlight, it’s just a bright room. You don’t stand out any more.
A great example of this is free webinars. At first, someone hosting a free, hour-long training on a subject was revolutionary! Free training from one of your favorite peeps? Amazing! And, yes, they would sell you something at the end, but you WANTED it! You had to have it!
Nowadays, people have seen what worked (a webinar with a sales pitch at the end) and tried to “refine” it and optimize it to work even better, until what you’re really getting is about 5 minutes of training and a 75 minute sales pitch.
And guess what? Audiences are catching on. Especially in the B2B space where these were most popular. And that format is going to stop working very, very soon if it hasn’t already. But people will keep trying it because it worked so well before.
So how can you avoid this?
One way I like to look at it is through the lens of the Blue Ocean Strategy. If you haven’t read that book, it’s a framework for how to help your brand and your business stand out in a crowded market.
But the main idea is very, very simple.
You think about your main competition for your audience’s attention. Maybe that’s actually a direct competitor, someone who does the same thing you do. Or maybe it’s someone even bigger. For example, a life coach might know that their ideal customer watches Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday, so they could even put Oprah on the chart.
And then you look at what your competition does, and how you can do it differently.
Let’s take our Oprah / life coach example. How do you possibly compete with Oprah???
Well, you don’t have to directly compete with her, but you can give yourself a spotlight and stand out from Oprah.
The first thing you do is plot out what Oprah does. Well, she has a mass reach, right? She does FB lives to tens of thousands of people. And she has extremely polished production values, right? Everything is beautiful and perfect and almost scripted.
So remember that we’re not trying to out-Oprah Oprah, right? We’re not trying to beat her at her own game. We’re trying to stand out and be different.
What can you do differently? Well, you can’t compete with Oprah’s mass reach, but maybe your selling point could be that people can get personalized attention and experience you 1:1 or in a very small group — which you absolutely can’t do with Oprah. And maybe instead of trying to have your production values of your content be perfect, perfect, perfect, you could go for a more authentic look — unscripted, photos that aren’t so staged, blog posts that are more conversational, etc. etc.
OK? So this is kind of an extreme example, but I hope you can see what I’m driving at here.
If your competition for your audience’s attention is doing:
- Webinars what can you do that’s different?
- If they’re doing Facebook Lives how can you do that differently?
- If they’re interviewing people, what can you do that’s different?
- If they’re doing a pre-recorded podcast what can you do that’s different?
Another great example of this came up when I was a guest co-host on Tara Gentile’s new live show, Help Yourself.
She said she came up with the idea for Help Yourself when she saw that everybody in her space were doing interview podcasts, but no one was doing a talk show-style podcast or show. So she decided to have a live talk show, that will also eventually be uploaded as a podcast to iTunes.
She saw something that other industries were doing, a talk show, that her industry wasn’t doing, and she brought it over into her industry to try something different.
A couple more examples of this:
Halley Gray recently used Instagram to launch a course, and I thought she did a masterful job. This is interesting because the prevailing wisdom is that it’s hard to get people OFF of Instagram, to visit another website, but she did it and it worked for her. I think one reason it worked is that no one else is doing it.
Another example is Adrienne Dorison, who launched an entire new podcast called The Pop Up Podcast that was only available for about 2 months before she took it down. This is SO DIFFERENT! Because most podcasts are there forever, right? But she was using that live and expiring content trend in a channel where we don’t normally see it. She was also using that podcast as pre-launch content for an affiliate launch she was a part of. That’s right: an ENTIRE NEW PODCAST just for the purpose of launching a course. Pretty amazing.
So what’s the takeaway? These women are killing it by looking at what’s common and what’s not, and making some bold choices to make themselves stand out.