Have you ever been to Seattle?
I've lived here nearly all my life.
It's the land where Starbucks was born and coffee shops are a dime a dozen.
(No joke - Wikipedia says there are 35 coffee shops for every 100,000 people.)
You literally cannot walk a block in Seattle without running into some sort of coffee operation. It's incredibly saturated and competitive.
Part of the reason? Most of the coffee shops fall into the deadly sameness trap.
Oh, they might try to tell you about their roasting techniques. Or their lovely atmosphere. Or (ahem) how friendly and knowledgeable their staff is...
...but honestly those aren't compelling differentiators. Any other coffee shop can claim the same things.
Here's what they ALL have in common - you can walk in anytime they're open, order a cup of coffee and sit down for as long as you like.
These coffee houses make their money by being super easy to access and allowing customers to hang out as long as they want (at no additional charge).
So imagine my surprise when I discovered a new kind of coffee house.
This café decided to be different.
Yes, it still serves coffee.
Yes, you can still walk any anytime they're open.
But - there is a big difference at this café.
There is a 'special' VIP area to the café. And the VIPs are very finicky, so the owners limit access to the special VIP room.
And the café owners CHARGE for access to this room.
AND you have to make an advanced reservation ONLINE to enter the room.
Now remember, we are a city of coffee lovers with cafes and coffee houses literally EVERYWHERE.
How could a café get away with charging for special access to something that is so readily available?
Wouldn't their competition eat them alive with more access, cheaper prices and no VIP access?
And here's why ---> CATS.
The owners of this café first and foremost love cats.
And not just any cats - shelter cats that are available for adoption.
People who come to the café are cat lovers who want to support homeless cats. They pay for special access to the cats during their VIP stay.
Customers talk about the café with their cat-loving friends, co-workers and strangers around town.
Their clients are such huge fans that they spread the word about the fantastic cat café that happens to also sell.... Coffee.
Seattle Meowtropolitan has avoided the sameness trap.
They have something totally different, unique and enticing to bring in clients.
And best of all - they're memorable. Even if you don't like cats, you won't forget about this café.
Now what does that mean to you in your business?
First, don't be intimidated by an over-crowded and very competitive market.
Many marketing experts out there will tell you to create an ideal client avatar, ask them what they'd like to buy and then sell that.
Steve Jobs famously said:
It's really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don't know what they want until you show it to them.
And you know what? I've sat through more focus groups than I can count in my 20 years of marketing experience - and I can tell you that letting other people define your business is a recipe for DISASTER.
When you put too much emphasis on what people SAY THEY WANT, you will fall into the SAMENESS trap.
That is, you will end up with a ho-hum, me-too product that isn't new, innovative, exciting or noteworthy.
And it's REALLY HARD to get people to pay attention to ho-hum, been-there, seen that.
So what do you do instead?
WHAT MAKES YOU STAND OUT?
It's up to you to decide what actually does make you unique. But instead of starting with the tactical WHAT you do, ask yourself WHY you're doing it:
1. Why does this business matter to me?
2. What problems do my clients/people have?
3. Why do I want to help them solve those problems?
This is how you begin to create a business that stands out - because no one can duplicate YOU and how YOU solve problems for/with your clients.
So start with those three questions to avoid falling into the sameness trap with your business.
GET PERSONALIZED SUPPORT WITH YOUR MESSAGE
I run a free Facebook community for experts, small business owners and entrepreneurs.
We talk about what is really working to market and grow our businesses... and what's a waste of time. I'm in there offering a ton of advice and support to the members (and did I mention it's FREE?). Come join us - and post your a-ha's from this exercise along with any questions you have.
Use #SecretToSoldOut and I'll respond to your questions and comments.