How do you stand out?
In Practically Radical Bill Taylor introduces the concept of “Vuja de thinking”. A way to look at a problem from a completely different perspective, or lens, like if this was the first time you had ever looked at this problem. (replace ‘problem’ with ‘strategy’) The book gives a lot of great examples of organizations that just think differently. Here’s a good little PDF on Vuja De Thinking.
On a similar note, Jim Collins talks about the hedgehog concept in Good To Great. The great companies defined what they could be the best in the world at, they faced the brutal facts of their industry and and figured out how to compete by doing something different than their competition.
Face the facts of your industry, don’t lie to yourself, and figure out what you can do better than anyone else.
The entire book Purple Cow by Seth Godin is based on the idea of standing out. He uses the analogy of the Purple Cow, if you’re driving in your car and you drive by a herd of cows you think nothing of it. But if you were to drive past a herd and there was a purple cow just standing there, you’d have to say something. This is the definition of remarkable you know, that you must make a remark on your experience, by definition you have made it remarkable. Just read the book. It’s essentially a rally cry stating you have no choice anymore but to stand out. You must be remarkable in some capacity, otherwise how else do you expect to spread your idea? Why will people care? Are you going to pay people to fall in love with your “brand”? Good luck with that.
Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne talks about not competing in the traditional sense but by finding different ways to provide value and areas of growth within a market. Or as they put it “Blue Ocean Strategy provides a systematic approach to making the competition irrelevant.” They talk about some very smart tools in this book, tools you can use in your business. The strategy canvas I’ve used a lot with clients to define areas of focus.
Brand Against The Machine (the new marketing textbook, seriously, this book is filled with very smart little tidbits of marketing information you need to know) by John Morgan is worth the read. He had a brilliant tweet the other day that goes something like “Figure out what your competition isn’t willing to do and do that.” That’s kind of how the advice is in Mr. Morgan’s book, short, sweet, and to the point. If you want to read some great quotes from the book check out 10 Quotes from Brand Against the Machine.