As we know, being seen as “average” doesn’t cut it any longer. Mediocre, gray, typical, usual. Maintaining the status quo no longer works when marketing your business.
Today it’s about Standing Out, not fitting in. It’s the only way that your customers can see you.
In which case, why do so many businesses choose to blend in, rather than Stand Out?
One word: Fear.
Being Afraid To Stand OutPeople are afraid to Stand Out. Why? Because Standing Out means that there’s a chance (actually more like a certainty) that some people won’t like you. Because we’re brought up to try to please all of the people all of the time, Standing-Out frightens us. As a result instead of making our business / product / service different in a marketplace full of me-too’s, we choose conformity.
The problem is, that in today’s commercial environment, fitting-in equates to disappearing. If you don’t Stand Out, then you’re invisible.
One of my friends runs a restaurant in the center of Strasbourg. It’s a pretty famous eatery for the area that offers fantastic food, yet my friend is thinking of selling-up as she’s not generating much business since the economy nose-dived a couple of years ago.
She thinks that the reason is purely economic. Certainly when talking to other restaurant owners in the area, they all say that business is a lot tougher than it used to be.
Within a half-mile radius of my friend’s restaurant there are perhaps fifty other decent places where you can get a bite to eat. Together, they offer diners a wide variety of cuisines to choose from. Sure there’s French – as you’d expect. But there’s also Thai, Japanese, Italian, Chinese, Indian, Laotian, North African, and probably others. Since they’ve all been around for a while, I think it’s safe to assume that the food is pretty good at most of these places.
However, none of them Stand Out. Including, unfortunately, my friend’s restaurant.
Why? Because after spending all the time, money and effort in opening and running a restaurant, the last thing that most business owners want to do it take “another risk” (her words, not mine) by Standing Out.
Standing Out, Not Fitting In
A run-of-the-mill restaurant might not make the front page of the local news site, but there’s also less chance that someone will slag it off. The food might not being anything to write home about, but you won’t get sick if you choose the Seafood Special.
The problem is that, while the food might well be “OK, I guess…” it’s not exceptional enough to get you to post a review on Yelp, or post a picture of your main course on Facebook. You won’t recant the story of the fantastic service that you got from your waiter, the reason why the walls are painted with pink stripes, or the collection of Zippo lighters in a cabinet by the washrooms – or whatever the Stand Out features are.
Instead, you get Average. Acceptable service, conventional decor, decent-enough food, but nothing that’s going to stop traffic. It’s no wonder that all the restaurants in the area are finding business tough: They’re all seen as shades of gray.
Not “Standing Out” Is Risky
OK, so if playing it safe is risky, and Standing Out is the only option, how do you know what ideas are going to work and which are going to tank?
You don’t. (Hey, no-one said that business was easy, right?)
You don’t know if your idea is going to work until you try. But that’s the whole point. If it was predicable, then it would be “safe”. If it’s safe then, by definition, it’s not Standing Out.
One thing’s for sure: “Average” is the new “Risky.”
Playing it safe is actually not safe at all.