Be an Industry Original
Becoming an Industry Original will instantly make your business more marketable, but how do you be unique? Step one: listen to your clients.
Do you mimic the competition, or do you strive to be unique? Are your clients looking for the same product and price from you that they can get elsewhere or are they looking for an Industry Original?
It’s a line we dance around in business and an important line to dance away from if you want to position yourself as an Industry Original.
An Industry Original is unique, bold and independent. I like them because my job is all about reputation, positioning and publicity, and that’s a lot easier for me to do when a business is breaking from the pack and carving a niche.
I have a great recent case study that shows how to go from just one of the pack to being an Industry Original.
I had a call from a prospective client five years ago. He was running a successful business and heard I ran media campaigns. I asked him a series of questions and then had to break the bad news: I couldn’t work with him. Why not? The business wasn’t doing anything differently; no new technology; no unique selling proposition; nothing very different from anyone else who did what they did. They were not Industry Originals. What would I say to media about them that could make them stand out from the crowd?
"Take a look at what your clients are saying and asking for. You might just find a unique new stream of business."
Sadly, there was nothing. He understood what I meant but was disappointed. I was disappointed, too. He had come to me via a terrific referral and I hate knocking them back.
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About six months ago this same guy rang again. He’s sold the business and is Business Development Manager with a company that is doing something absolutely unique in their market. Could we talk? He’d never forgotten our conversation and the questions I’d asked to test his earlier business for originality. He was calling because, this time, he thought he might be onto something. And he was right.
His company is carving an extraordinary niche in a very big industry. And it’s a terrific good-news story. It’s only a drop in the ocean right now but one that’s working for them and becoming their core business. Could I work with them? I asked a few more questions. Yes, they were definitely Industry Originals and yes we could generate a media campaign out of their business.
So how do you become an Industry Original when you’ve been running with the pack? I’m not suggesting you turn your business model upside down or even digress from what it is you do best. Start with baby steps. Take another look at the business you might have been knocking back or perceiving as ‘too hard.’ How could you have solved those problems? What if you had a program or product that answered that need? Mention this “new service we’re developing” when talking to prospects and clients; gauge interest.
This is what my case study had done: responded to client demand. A major client had asked more than once if they would run an in-house call centre for them. Eventually they realised there was something in the idea. And now they’re running with it. It was the missing ingredient they needed to stand out from the rest.
Take a look at what your clients are saying and asking for. You might just find a unique new stream of business and before you know it – you could be on your way to becoming an Industry Original.
How did you turn your business into an Industry Original?