According to leadership, innovation, and culture consultants and best-selling authors Kevin and Jackie Freiberg, to stand out in a sea of sameness you have to think differently, act decisively, and move quickly. Start by thinking differently about how your products and services enrich others and how you can elevate your own brand as a thought leader and trusted industry expert.
In their latest book, Cause! A Business Strategy for Standing Out in a Sea of Sameness, Kevin and Jackie lay out a strategy for building a business that is tied to a heroic cause.
1. Know your why--find your way
WHY do you do what you do? The emotion of your job is in the WHY. WHY is the higher calling that shows you how your products and services change lives. WHY is what inspires you to press on after you've heard NO for the fifth time in a day. WHY is the reason your willing to stay up late and get up early again the next morning.
2. What's so special about being special--about standing out?
If you had to close shop tomorrow, would you be missed?
Make the answer YES! Make it your goal to bring something special to the game. And, here's what's so special about being special and standing out. Special means your customers and clients can't live without you. Special makes the comparison with your competitors irrelevant because you give your customers/clients something they can't get from anyone else. Special makes you a category of one--but only if you have a deeply held conviction about WHY you are doing what you are doing. So the question is, "Will you be missed?" If so, Why? Before the day turns dark, define your WHY.
3. When people bump into you, what spills out?
When your customers and colleagues bump into you what spills out? When potential clients and existing clients bump into you what spills out? What should spill out is an "I'm all-in, throttle down, extraordinary conviction" that you are doing something noble and heroic.
As a business leader, your WHY gives you a direct line-of-sight to the noble, heroic cause for which you fight. It reminds you, when you are slugging it out in the trenches every day, that your work connects to something bigger.
The world is moving fast, busy is the new cool, people are bombarded with thousands of messages and images every day, and the playing field on which you do business is growing more complex. In the midst of all this complexity is a simple, but powerful reason you do what you do, it's your WHY!
4. Not just a job--a movement
When you, your people and your customers have a compelling, bullet-proof WHY they will passionately lean in to WHAT and HOW. Everyone wants their lives and work to matter. Everyone wants to be proud of what they do and what they invest in. We all want to lay our heads on the pillow knowing we Do Good and our work matters.
If you don't have a glaring answer to WHY, a cause--then you're working with just a company and you're doing just a job. Your business can stand out too. People will work more passionately for a cause and customers will buy and advocate with loyalty for a cause. Share your WHY and inspire a movement.