One of the most important things in business, for anyone hoping to be successful and to establish their particular brand in a way that makes it appealing to prospective customers, is to avoid falling into the pitfall of being forgettable – or, in other words, of being “generic in business”
Unfortunately, with so many different courses, guides, books, and programs out there today encouraging certain behaviours and branding strategies within the context of entrepreneurial ventures at large, many startup businesses – and even more established ones – end up essentially sticking to the same template, in a way that doesn’t necessarily help to foster a good degree of brand recognition, or, for that matter, interest.
Getting the customer’s attention is one of the most important tasks for any business that wants to be successful – but even beyond the initial moments of grabbing that attention, the business in question has to be interesting and different enough from its competitors to justify not only a purchase, but preferably also continued customer engagement over time.
Here are a number of different things that you can do in order to help to ensure that your business isn’t “generic in business,” but rather stands out as unique, memorable, and worth consistently engaging with.
Aim for localised communication wherever possible
If you’re trying to do business internationally – or even across multiple regions of the same country – one of the most crucial things that you can do in order to avoid appearing generic in business, is to pay proper attention to the way in which your communications are adapted to different locations and markets.
Ultimately, what you want to do as much as possible is to ensure good “localization” rather than simply “translation,” with regards to both written materials, and also video translation.
There are few things that are as likely to make a business seem generic, as dry marketing materials and communications that lose all their original subtlety, character, and humour, when directly translated into a different language or context, without properly accounting for things like local idioms and ways of reducing the over-inflation of text with subtitles that can occur as a result of the translation process.
On the other hand, businesses that have managed to do localisation well will routinely stand out from their competitors, and will tend to make much more of a direct and memorable impact across a range of different locations, cultures, and so on.
Aim to be authentic in your marketing and communication and let your own personality shine through
When it comes to marketing and marketing-related communications in general, it’s always tempting to opt purely for being as “strategic” as possible, and attempting to say only the things that you are already certain that your prospective customer base wants to hear, and in the way they want to hear it.
Ultimately, though, this ends up being nothing but a recipe for being generic – because in order to market with that degree of certainty, you essentially have to do what everyone else is doing.
What can really contribute to making a business more memorable and engaging, however, is to find ways to be authentic in marketing, and to let your genuine personality shine through.
Of course, there is always a balancing act to be managed here – as being too “personal” with regards to the way you brand and market your business might be inappropriate, or might make people uncomfortable in one way or another.
Nonetheless, if you are an entrepreneur and are hoping to get people excited about your business venture, you need to be as sincere as you can, and you need to strive to be as authentic as you can in the way you present your business, and the way you communicate the benefits of your business to others.
Part of what this means is developing your own unique tone of voice, and coming up with ways of structuring features of your business inline with what you find innately interesting, meaningful, and engaging – as opposed to just focusing on what a market research panel seems to indicate people are most drawn to.
Intentionally look for ways to offer things that your competitors aren’t
Innovation in business is highly sought-after and prized, and it can make all the difference between a business that just “get by,” and one that absolutely takes the market or industry by storm, and ends up revolutionising the way things are done.
Ultimately, innovation rests on certain key pillars, but perhaps the first and most significant of these is simply finding ways to offer something that your competitors aren’t offering – and that may not be present in the market landscape whatsoever.
Whenever you are in a position of running a business or advancing a professional venture in one way or another, you should be asking yourself on a daily basis how you can enhance and optimise your services, so as to provide something that your competitors are providing.
In order to achieve this, and to get a clear sense of what sort of things you should be focusing on, try to put yourself in the perspective of someone who is interested in utilising the service in question, or engaging with the product in question.
What sort of “need” would such an individual be hoping to meet? And what sort of issue might they be looking to resolve?
It might be, for example, that making a particular service or product more “location-independent” in terms of how it’s used, would have a lot to do with making that product or service more accessible to a broader variety of different customers.
In any case, if you simply offer what everyone else is offering, you are – almost by definition – providing a generic service. It’s when you can push the envelope and do something that everyone else isn’t doing, that the magic happens.
Look for the underlying lessons in the examples of others, instead of just the surface level
There’s a great saying in the entrepreneurial space, which is that “success leaves clues.”
The subtext of this statement is pretty clear. Essentially, it’s suggesting that it’s important to look to the examples of other individuals and businesses that have been successful in the area that you want to be successful in, and to extract the lessons from their own experiences, journeys, and statements.
This is certainly an important thing to do for anyone who wants to have the best possible chance of thriving in a professional context. But there is a big difference between simply being inspired by the example set by someone else, on a surface level, and actively looking for the underlying lessons in those examples.
Essentially, if you end up simply being inspired by the more surface-level examples of others, and end up trying to walk the same path in a direct sense, you are – at best – going to end up making yourself into a copy of that other business or entrepreneur, and you can be sure that many other people have likely already done the same thing since their initial success.
This, in other words, can very easily end up leading to businesses and entrepreneurs who are essentially generic in business, and who lack a distinct personality and an innovative approach to business as a whole.
If, however, you can look for the underlying lessons in the messages expressed by those successful entrepreneurs and businesses, you may significantly increase your chances of success, while still giving yourself plenty of room for being authentic, unique, and dynamic.
Depending on the examples in question, the lessons that you are focusing on and drawing out may vary – with the “deep level” lessons tending to include things like “look for an opening in the market during a time of need, and boldly launch an all-encompassing marketing campaign,” as opposed to a shallow copying approach like “get into IT and sell smartphones with a minimalist aesthetic.”
Rather focus on doing a few key things well, and leveraging your talents effectively, than trying to do “a bit of everything”
In order to avoid being generic in business, and to ensure that you have the best possible chance of leveraging your particular strengths in order to develop your business in the most meaningful way possible, it is often a good idea to focus on doing a few key things as well as you can, and as creatively as you can, rather than trying to do the broadest possible range of different things.
While, at first glance, it may seem like offering the broadest range of services will help make your business stand out, what is more likely to happen – especially if, like most entrepreneurs, you aren’t exactly flush with resources and personnel – is that you end up spreading yourself too thin and simply don’t have the opportunity to go “deep enough” in any one area to make it really stand out.One of the most important lessons for entrepreneurs, in general, is to become comfortable with effectively delegating and outsourcing – and a big part of the reason why doing so is beneficial, is because it allows for those same entrepreneurs to more actively focus on their areas of core competence, and to work on developing the essential components of their business as effectively as possible.