Why do small businesses find it so hard to stand out from the crowd?

Conformity is a human trait.

As Cialdini pointed out, we trust people who share our views, pay us compliments and with whom we share a common cause. We look for areas of similarity in others.

Confirmation bias and the art of getting things wrong

But anyone who has ever made a difference in the world has done so…

by not fitting in, have they not?

So where does that leave us?

Stuck in a limbo between a natural human desire to be part of the crowd and what we know to be a business necessity to stand out from it.

When you don’t want to offend anyone, you end up appealing to no-one.

You can’t appeal to everyone. Many have tried and floundered.

What do you stand for?

Customers are selfish, ego-driven maniacs. They only go for what interests them and they don’t care about you.

One. “People don’t buy what you do, they buy what you believe in”

Simon Sinek’s now famous 2009 TED talk set out the principles by which many businesses work today.

  1. Integrity
  2. Respect
  3. Fairness
  4. Dependability
  5. Trustworthiness
  6. Principles
  7. Openness
  8. Environmental values
  9. Experiences
  10. A sense of belonging
  11. Aspiration
  12. Recognition
  13. Expertise over ads
  14. Stories they can identify with
  15. Involvement
  16. Convenience
  17. Loyalty

Two. Who do you serve and who do you not serve?

You can’t serve everyone with a wallet.

Three. How do you solve my problem?

Again, customers are egotistical maniacs.

It’s time for some new confidence

Businesses want to stand out because they’re told they have to. But as human beings, they’re conditioned to want to fit in.



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Mike Garner

Mike Garner

Copywriter, London exile interested in human communication and targeting your ideal client. Lived in France 20 years. Get emails at www.brandingwithwords.com.