Following the herd is what happens when social proof goes wrong.
In his renowned book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Robert Cialdini describes social proof as the way we “determine what is correct by finding out what other people think is correct.”
In other words, the more people we see doing something, the more we see it as the right thing for us to do. But in business, following the herd can be dangerous.
Business Strategies Backed by Experience
Have you noticed how many business and life coaches there are these days? There are a lot!
A 2012 New York Times article asked, “Should a Life Coach Have a Life First?” The article commented on the growing number of young life coaches, “with some clients receiving motivational guidance from coaches young enough to be their children.”
Does experience matter? Yes, it does.
The ability to help someone build and grow a business needs to be backed by real-world experience.
Otherwise, you could make critical business decisions based on regurgitated ideas from someone who knows nothing about building a successful business.
Cookie-cutter programs aren’t designed around your unique needs or goals.
From Follower to Business Leader
The reason it’s so hard to follow the leader is this: The leader is the leader because he did something remarkable. And that remarkable thing is now taken – it’s no longer remarkable when you do it.”Seth Godin, Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable
Set yourself apart from the herd. Get clear on what your business is, who it’s for, and what makes you better than your competitors.
The following are some essential questions to ask when you start this process:
- What are the goals of your business?
- Who does your business serve?
- What unique value do you offer?
- How much do clients need to spend for your business to be profitable?
- What processes and systems do you need to succeed and grow?
- Is your business equipped to achieve short-and long-term goals?
No cookie-cutter marketing or business program can ever give you exactly what you need.
And yet, there are influencers and agencies out there offering “formulas” that have worked for so many others while promising they can do the same for you.
What you need to do to reach your audience can’t be solved through a generic framework or marketing “hacks.” Don’t confuse being efficient for being effective.
Get Creative With Your Marketing…or Get Lost
Focusing on what your business needs is the best way to develop new ideas that competitors are ignoring.
Here are some ways to create your own business strategies and stop following the herd:
1. Know Your Unique Value
In today’s increasingly crowded and noisy marketplace, demonstrating the qualities that make your business different is more important than ever.
Look at what the herd is doing and ask yourself, “How can I do it differently?”
If you have employees, get their feedback on what they think your business needs to stand out and become an industry leader.
Make brainstorming sessions a regular event (on your own or with your team), and drill down your niche to target a more specific audience.
2. Know When to Copy Other Businesses
We can still learn from the success of others. Knowing when to copy what others are doing can benefit your business.
You can have real and repeatable business breakthroughs when you take successful strategies from other industries to find new ideas that you can apply in your business.
But it’s not enough to simply “copy and paste” business strategies. Figure out why something worked well in a different industry so that you can tailor it to your needs and goals.
When you get lost in the herd—doing the same thing they do—your creativity muscles get weak, and developing real and lasting connections with your clients can become difficult.
3. Many Marketing Channels, One Purpose
When you understand the purpose of your business, you must communicate it in all of your marketing messages.
But businesses have many channels to include in their marketing strategy. Your website, email marketing, social media, and paid advertisements are some examples of communication channels you can use.
Communicate according to the needs and expectations of each channel’s audience. How you communicate in your paid ads will be much different than what you say in your client emails.
But no matter what channel you use, infuse your message with the “Why” of your business. Why are you doing what you do?
4. Hire Someone Who Can Learn Your Business and Help You Grow It
Working with a business consultant or coach is far more effective than cookie-cutter programs that try to appeal to a wide range of people, businesses, and industries.
A consultant can assess your business. They can help you clarify your mission, vision, and purpose while helping you develop and implement strategies that work.
Your branding, website design, content, and sales processes must be tailored to your business.
Having an experienced professional who’s gone through the business-building journey takes the guesswork out of the process. They can help you define who you are and what your business does.
But more importantly, you can build a business that makes a bigger impact on the world while leaving the herd behind.
Don’t Leave Empty-Handed!
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