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Why clever is overrated

So often advertisements try to gain attention with a crazy headline or a ‘cool’ photo that has nothing to do with the product or service. Instead, those ads should focus on explaining why someone needs their product or what their services are. Consumers can‘t be experts in everything­—when it comes to what you do, they are novices.The vast majority of consumers don’t understand your business category and probably never will.

When guests arrive at my house, they are greeted by two boisterous Boston Terriers. Inevitably, I’m asked the question, “How do you tell them apart?” As often as I’ve been asked, the question always surprises me. To me, my pets look entirely different from one another. I can tell them apart by their breathing, by the way they walk across the room. To me, no 2 dogs in the world could be more different than mine. You see, when it comes to Boston Terriers—and particularly my own, I’m a connoisseur.

Things that are central to our lives, such as our businesses, seem completely unique—to those of us operating the business. Nothing could be more different than we are from our competitors. But to outsiders, such as potential customers, we all look quite similar.

You see, that’s why clever is overrated. A catchy headline isn’t going to cut it if your prospects still don’t understand what you do. A stock photo of a business person isn’t going to personify you, and worse, viewers are struggling to understand whether you’re a lawyer or financial planner.

That’s why being the Golden Retriever in a pack of Boston Terriers makes it easier to stand out. The differences are more obvious. Being obvious in your business makes it easier for your prospects to see the differences.

How do you do that?

  • Ask your clients why they hired you, or bought from you. Their answers may surprise you and help you to uncover something unique about your business.

  • Review your core values—your reasons for doing what you do. Are they a reflection of what your business is today?

  • If competitors continue to add ‘me-too’ features, keep yours simple and easy to understand.

  • Look at your business with fresh eyes: conduct a focus group—and don’t invite yourself. Have an expert synthesize the information so you can view feedback objectively.

Do you need help leaving clever behind and embracing the unique? Let us show you how.


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