Be Different

In most industries, competition is fierce. Because of this, it is important to do things to stand out from the competition. Do you? Simply doing whatever everyone else is doing isn’t going to get you noticed, attract customers, or positively impact the bottom line.

True, it is important to adhere to industry standards in a lot of ways. If you’re a fast food chain, you need to have a drive thru lane like all your competitors. If you’re an apparel retailer, you need to have an e-commerce site like everyone else. These things are called points of parity.

However, where you really create value is through what are called points of difference. These things allow you to set yourself apart from the competition, get attention, and hopefully be successful. So, if your business is in a rut, think about what you can do that your competitors are not. If none of your rivals have a loyalty program, consider starting one. If nobody delivers, think about doing that. If everyone else sells the same products, try adding some new product lines that are unique and attention getting.

The point is…find a different reason for customers to want to come to you. Contests. Funny mascots. Different pricing schemes. Silly advertisements. The possibilities are endless. Just sit down and brainstorm what you could do that others do not. And ask your employees and customers. They may have some good insight that you did not think of.

New vs. Repeat Business


Once upon a time, I worked for a business in which salespeople were paid bonuses for prospecting. In other words, they were incentivized to find brand new customers. This seems like a logical thing to do, as it allows you to grow your customer base. However, salespeople, like the rest of us, have only so many hours in the day for work. The result then is that a focus on prospecting leads to a lessened emphasis on existing customers.

Upon a very basic superficial analysis of our sales data, we suspected that this incentive program was flawed. So, we undertook a more detailed analysis of our customer sales history. What we discovered was that the average order size of repeat customers was more than double that of brand new customers. This was definitely an eye opener. And, this was before considering the fact that repeat customers purchased from the business multiple times, whereas a large number of new customers never returned.

Based on this, we completely flipped the incentive program to focus on repeat business. This led to increased order sizes, more repeat orders, increased commissions for salespeople, and more profitability for the company.

The point is to not neglect your existing customers. You already have them. They purchased from you for a reason. Give them reasons to come back. Focusing solely on new business is bad practice. While you need to attract new customers, definitely nurture those who already give you money.

Using Stock Photos


If you use photos you find on the Internet in your social media posts, make doubly sure that you have permission to do so! If you do not, you could receive a bill in the mail for royalties, and that bill could be for thousands of dollars. That is a mistake that lots of people have made, and it can really sting! So just be careful.

However, there are some sites that are a repository of royalty free images. What you are looking for are images that are listed as (1) free for commercial use, and preferably (2) no attribution required. The ‘no attribution’ part just means that you don’t have to give them credit for using the image in a social media post.

There is a large number of sites to peruse for images. Below are a few:




Note that some of these sites also sell images, so if you’re looking for free ones, be sure you search the free sections.

Be Who You Are

Not everyone wants to buy your products. Let me repeat that. Not everyone wants to buy your products. It’s a hard thing to hear, but it’s true. Knowing who does and doesn’t want your products can allow you to focus on those most likely to buy from you.

Because you can’t be all things to all people, it is important to be who you are. That will serve you and your business well. Stay focused on what has made you successful and you will continue to be successful. By trying to branch out into other customer segments, you may marginalize your business. You may end up pulling resources away from those more valuable segments. This is a big no-no. Stay true to yourself.

For example, if you are a screen printing business who has become well known for a line of quirky, funny shirts, moving into other types of clothing or themes may water down that image that consumers have of you. And if that built up image has created significant value for your company, you don’t want to do anything to harm it. The results could be disastrous.

So, resist that urge. It will serve you well.

What are your Goals?

Does your organization have specific marketing goals? And are those goals evaluated regularly?

If your answer to either of those is ‘no,’ then you should consider revamping your marketing activities. By having specific goals, you create specific targets to work towards. This allows you to focus and have direction. Alternatively, if you don’t have goals, your marketing efforts are likely not going to be as effective as they could be.

Your goals should be clearly written, easy to evaluate, and measured regularly. For example, “increase month over month sales by 5% in each of the next six months.” This is a clear goal, it is easy to evaluate, and can be done so monthly. If you miss a goal, you can then reconfigure what you’re doing to improve your chances of meeting the goal at the next measurement period.

If you don’t have goals, or you do but don’t measure them, how can you know how well you are doing as an organization?

An added benefit of creating goals is that it forces you to step away and take stock of where you are and where you want to be. This allows for some consideration of changes in what you do to improve the performance of the company.

Final note: the creation, evaluation, and updating of goals should be treated like any other marketing activity you do. It is probably as important as your promotional activities.