Standing Out As A Business: Good Methods vs Bad Methods
Once upon a time, businesses were few and far between. They were also predominantly local, so the competition was limited. As a result, the businesses of yesteryear had no need to worry about standing out from the crowd — because there just wasn’t a crowd to stand out from.
From there humble beginnings, the world of business has grown almost exponentially. The 21st Century world of commerce has changed almost entirely from those early days. Now, the crowd is enormous, and it’s growing all the time. As a direct consequence of this, more and more businesses are doing all they can to ensure they stand out from the crowd and try to draw the attention and focus that their business requires.
However, as with most things in life, the devil is in the detail when it comes to ensuring your business is noticed. Standing out for the sake of standing out is unlikely to deliver the results that your business needs, but it’s all-too-easy for this to be forgotten when the competition that surrounds you is so ever-present.
When it comes to standing out, it’s well worth noting the importance of standing out by using good methods that are genuinely beneficial for your business — and it’s also important to avoid the bad methods that can backfire on you. Below, we’ve put together a few examples of good versus bad methods of standing out — keep these points in mind, and you shouldn’t go far wrong…
Good Method: Great packaging
If you’re a product manufacturer, then being able to stand out on the shelves or webpage is crucial. No matter how good your marketing and advertising is, a huge amount of your business will just be customers noticing your products when idly browsing through a physical store or an online shop.
To ensure you capture customers’ attention, the most important aspect to consider is your packaging. We’re all told not to judge a book by its cover, so it’s tempting to think that packaging doesn’t matter — after all, what’s on the inside is what counts. However, the truth is that a huge number of customers do judge a book by its cover — or, in this case, a product by its packaging. Scientific studies have found that viewing attractive packaging causes more brain activity than neutral, standard packaging, so there’s no doubt about it: packaging matters a great deal.
It is, therefore, crucial to examine your budget and ensure you have the funds set aside to invest in packaging that is going to deliver returns. You’ll also need to choose established, reputable companies such as C.L. Smith to manufacture your packaging for you so you can be sure the finished result is as good as it can possibly be. Many product manufacturers overlook packaging based on the “don’t judge a book by its cover” philosophy — but now you can be sure you won’t make the same mistake.
Furthermore, even if you’re not a product manufacturer, you can still take the concept of ‘great packaging’ and make it work for your business. Rather than thinking of literal packaging, think of the way that your business is packaged: for example, is your website up-to-date and professional? Think about the things that people first see when they encounter your business and how they reflect on your company as a whole. If the lessons of packaging have taught us anything, it’s that first impressions count, so ensure your business is providing the best first impression possible.
Bad Method: Bad publicity
Every so often, the internet will explode with fury at a particular company. The company may say something that the Twittersphere deems offensive, produce a product that doesn’t align with modern values or otherwise transgress against people’s sensitivities. The modern world, and especially the online world, has many unwritten rules to follow, and many businesses fall foul of this.
When this happens, the company behind the storm is likely to reassure itself with an old adage: there’s no such thing as bad publicity. It’s easy to see why this might be the case. In the aftermath of online outrages, there tend to be follow-up posts at sites like Buzzfeed and Forbes; posts that delve into what happened, repeatedly mentioning the company name, and potentially even linking to them. This kind of high-level publicity would be extremely expensive if you were to try to purchase it via conventional methods, so ultimately, how could it be anything but beneficial?
Many businesses seem to assume the same and release products or statements that seem to be designed to offend in the hopes of benefiting from a storm of publicity. If you consider following suit, then be warned: this is a very dangerous tactic. While you may see a temporary boost from such exposure, the reality is that your business will be associated with something bad… forever. In fact, all that some people will ever know about your business is that it did something bad once upon a time; your brand will be forever tarnished.
If you want your business to succeed in the future, then this kind of damage is something that you just can’t risk. It’s far preferable to be cautious, avoid common mistakes brands make on social media, and focus on conventional methods of promoting and gaining exposure for your business. Ultimately, a short-term publicity boost just isn’t worth the long-term repercussions you may experience.
Good Method: Do something good
This method is the direct opposite of the “bad publicity” method as mentioned above, and just as bad publicity can ruin your reputation, doing something good can improve it almost exponentially.
There are numerous reasons for your business to become engaged in philanthropy and charitable causes. The first is the most obvious: you’re doing something good, and giving back to the community. Secondly, you will generate good publicity for doing so. It may not be quite as high-level as the impact of bad publicity, but it’s publicity that you will actually be proud to showcase. After all, brands at the center of online firestorms don’t advertise the fact on their website, but companies are more than happy to link to positive news pieces about their good deeds.
Finally, it’s important to consider the simple fact that doing something good is hugely beneficial to your reputation with customers. The modern consumer is far more socially conscious than previous generations, and this is a trend that looks set to continue as Generation Z comes of age.
There are thousands of different ways you can “do something good” with your business. You can make direct donations; manufacture specific products to try and organize charity drives; get involved in awareness campaigns — the options truly are endless. It’s always best to try and select a cause that is close to your heart and that you truly wish to help; your determination to work on something you care about is far more likely to create success, and your authenticity will really shine through.
Bad Method: Trying too hard to be “on trend”
We’ve all seen the “How Do You Do, Fellow Kids?” meme. It’s a meme that is eternally popular because it is inherently relatable. We have all, at some point, encountered a person who seems determined to be “down with the kids”, and the sense of second-hand embarrassment we feel when we witness it is acute.
Unfortunately, brands have a terrible tendency to try and stand out by being “down with the kids”. There’s even an entire subreddit dedicated to mocking these efforts; called, of course, /r/fellowkids. This course of action is entirely counterproductive. Brands think that by showcasing how down with the kids they are, they appear to be, well, down with the kids. It’s meant to demonstrate how very up-to-date and on-trend they are when it actually demonstrates the exact opposite.
It’s therefore incredibly important to avoid this kind of messaging, and particularly on social media. While it’s occasionally fun to join in with memes as part of a sound social media marketing strategy, avoid anything too “on trend” in the core components of your business website and advertising. Undoubtedly there is a marketer somewhere vehemently disagreeing with this, and insisting that to target the youth market you have to talk like the youth market — but the youth market has made it clear what they really think about these efforts. At best, your efforts will be met with an eye-roll; at worst, you’ll find yourself featured on the aforementioned subreddit while half the internet joins in to mock your company.
A one-off Tweet joining in on a meme of the day is fine, but a consistent use of hyper-trendy terms should be avoided entirely.
We know that standing out is incredibly important for businesses. The business world is more crowded than it has ever been before, and the need to distinguish your brand from the crowd is vital.
However, standing out for the sake of standing out is not a good technique for a business to employ. Standing out doesn’t take much; one ill-thought-out Tweet or overly-cutesy-language will draw attention, but it will be the wrong kind of attention. Attention is only useful if it’s positive; if it draws the eye of customers and appeals to them on a level beyond brand/customer. When you stand out for the right reasons, your business will be able to grow and thrive as a result.