Apple’s slogan, Think Different, was a game-changer for the computer industry when it appeared on television commercials and magazine pages in 1997. Apple set itself apart by making the purchasing decision personal. The Think Different campaign was attractive because it referenced other well-known people such as Einstein, John Lennon and Martin Luther King and it made you feel like you could be part of that club by buying Apples. Plus, it made Apple a luxury symbol. Apple has never come out with a budget laptop, because the brand is based on the notion that Apple users can afford to buy the highest-end products.

But it’s hard to “think different” when you’re doing the same things every day, which is a challenge that many people who own their own business face. Shake yourself up by teaching yourself how to think different. Some people do this by hiring a coach or consultant, and this can certainly be effective.

You may consider bringing your staff together for an open-minded meeting. The people who do the same jobs everyday will most definitely have ideas for how they could get things done in a different way.

You may find yourself saying to yourself or your staff things like, “Let’s just do it that way because we know it works.” This is the same as saying, “I don’t like where this path is leading me but I’m going to stay on this path just because I’m already on it.” If you were making any other decision–actually literally on a hiking path, in line for a food cart pod and you changed your mind about what you wanted, or buying shoes–would you stick with the decision you already made simply because you had already made one? No, most people would not! So give yourself the same freedom in your business. Learn how to do things differently, or at least, how to see that there might be a different way to think or act, and see where that goes. 

What groups would be natural customers or ambassadors for your businesses? If you sell carpet cleaning, maybe churches, retirement homes, or pizza parlors would like a discount offer.

When they redeem the discount you offered, give them the best service you can possibly provide. You can bet that they will speak highly of you to their friends and business associates.

Most people are turning to Facebook advertising these days. Nothing wrong with that. But when you’re in a service business, sometimes a local, face-to-face approach might work out in your favor. Most grocery stores print coupons on the back of their receipts for other businesses that have nothing to do with food…guy a loaf of bread and you get a coupon for an oil change. Consider what you could do if you found a complementary business to advertise with or work with.

For example, a gym or spa might have a corkboard holding the business cards of other health service providers they feel good about recommending. Could you get to know them and add your card to the list? Could you get them to add an item in their next newsletter that new gym members get 10% off your services as well?

If they advertise in print, could you split the cost with them and add your offer to the promotion?

Think of the way that wedding planning services work…planners and publications often offer “package deals” where the bride orders catering, flowers, a cake, tailoring services and photography from one vendor. What would happen if you found a network that complemented your niche and began promoting yourself that way? If the opportunity doesn’t exist, would you be willing to put the hard work into creating it?

Photo by on Unsplash

If a product launches and no one hears about it, does anyone care? We know that not every product can drop with the hype of a new Apple iPhone. But a key to building successful sales and repeat customers is for as many people as possible to hear about a product launch. Not just when the launch happens, but before and after as well. How can you do that? How can you maximize your product launch? The best launches have some momentum you can build on.

1. Make sure people know your backstory. We touched on this in the post, “Introduce Yourself, Get Personal, Share Your Motivations.” If people know your story, then the conversation changes. It can go from, “Oh, did you hear there’s another product that does this?” to, “Oh, did you hear that the people who did this made a new product?” The second example makes the launch of the product not just about the product, but about the people behind it, and that’s ideal.

2. Get people talking before the launch. Leave some room in your budget for some pre-launch excitement. If you’re boosting on Facebook, you might boost some posts that give a little excitement or teaser of the product without revealing exactly what it is. If you know your product will launch in summer, when spring comes put something on your website to tease it. When you send out newsletters prior to your launch, put in a little house ad or photo teasing what’s to come. Check this link on Pinterest which has some clever examples of ways that images can be used in your newsletter, on your website and in your social media posts to generate interest on a product or service that is yet to come:

3. Get people talking, part two. Reach out to leaders in your industry and tell them that you have an exciting product launch planned. Get them on board to write reviews or articles about it when it’s ready.

4. Set the scene. When Apple launches a new product, they have closed their online store, so that people who visit their website know something exciting is taking place. Their customers almost have no choice but to listen. Can you instigate that level of excitement in your launch? If you, with your non-Apple-sized budget and your busy life, were going to really get people to pay attention to your launch, how would you do it?

5. Take pre-orders. There are many ways that this can work. You could invite people to pay $10 ahead of time for $10 off their order when your new flavor of smoothie bowl launches. You could sign people up ahead of time for an appointment as soon as your new service launches. Get some buy-in and harness some of that enthusiasm you’re hoping to create ahead of time.

6. Be different. Perhaps the main reason that Apple can sell 1.7 million units of an iPhone within the first three days of a launch is because the product that they offered was not only revolutionary. It also was marketed in a way that spoke to people. Steve Jobs didn’t just talk about how great the phone was. He talked about how it could make life easier for people. He talked about how it made common every day tasks easier and more convenient. That made people want it. And the phone delivered on its promise.

What room do you have to be different? Can you offer something above and beyond what anyone else in your niche is doing? If so, that’s what people will resonate with and that’s what they’ll buy. Something different. Something that helps them.

How do you get your business on a fast-growing trajectory? Here’s one thing you don’t do…keep wishing. Wishing your business was on a fast-growing trajectory is not what it takes. Here are the three ingredients to rapid business growth.

1. Overcome your fear
Yes, you might fail. You might get some negative comments. Your attempts to connect with someone might not work. Everyone struggles with fear and anxiety. Think of a song or piece of art that you love. What if that musician had not written the song because she was afraid she would sound silly singing it?

We all have fear. How do you get rid of it? The only way to get rid of fear is to do things that will never have any possibility of failure. That’s not the path to be on. Tell yourself, “I’m scared, but I’m going to do this anyway.”

Things will change when you do something different. Make something happen. What is it you want to achieve? If you want a newspaper article about your business, reach out to someone in the press. Are you trying to find a blogger to review your product? Reach out to one. If you already did that and nothing happened, reach out again.

If you don’t like how things are going, imagine your business as a river with kids playing on its banks. Even moving a small rock can have a big impact on which direction the current flows. Something is going to happen because you have done something.

3. Learn from your mistakes.
It is not always possible to know what the outcomes of a decision will be. It’s not always possible to know HOW or WHY something happens, just that it DOES. Many times in business, you must act, then adjust. It is best to make an informed choice as best you can. Think things through, ask for advice, consider all possibilities. And then, see step number two, above. Take action.

If it doesn’t work out the way you intended, learn from that and revise your strategy next time. Obstacles will always appear and change shape and form. Sometimes they will disappear when you approach them. Setbacks will always be there in some form or another. Learn from them and keep moving.

Is your business poised to take advantage of the growth from 2016? One measure of a business’s strength lies in how quickly it can adjust to changes. There’s no better time than the beginning of a new year to look back on the past year and evaluate your business plan. Here are a few questions to keep you on track and focused as you learn and grow from 2016.

1. What were your successes and strengths over the past year?

Identify specifically what you can to do develop and enhance those strengths.

2. What didn’t work? What was challenging?

Evaluate what didn’t work like you expected and learn from it. How did you positively address challenges? Can you take even more specific steps to do better this year?

3. What were your missed opportunities?

You may have overlooked an opportunity to take good pictures, send out a press release, attend a conference, advertise in a new way or make new business connections. Vow to act differently when the opportunity next presents itself.

4. How have your competitors changed?

Your own marketing strategy should encompass offense and defense, so you can react flexibly to whatever your competition is doing — not to copy them but to keep an equal standing or better. If new competitors have entered the market, evaluate what makes them different and adjust your own strategies accordingly.

5. When was the last time you updated your website?

If you can’t remember, it’s time to do it now. Add a new project to your portfolio. Change the description of your services to keep it updated and fresh.

6. What are your biggest opportunities this year?

Develop case studies or cultivate relationships that will help you take advantage of the growth you are seeing in your area. Has technology changed? Have any of your competitors closed? There could be a new niche for you to take over.

7. What trends are you seeing in what your clients are asking for?

Put what the market wants front and center in your marketing materials and in the supplies you sell, if applicable.

8. What industry changes will threaten your segment of the industry and how can you address them?

For instance, are the costs of raw materials expected to change? Will you be affected if our foreign trade policies change?

9. Do you have the right people in your organization?

Hire a marketer to take that work off your plate. Invest in trainings to make sure you have well-skilled employees. What skill sets is your organization missing? Can you provide that or do you need to outsource or hire new people?

10. What is your annual gross and net income goal?

Break that down into a monthly figure and take steps to determine how you will get there.

11. What part of your business is under-performing?

Evaluate what is not working to help you meet your targets. Do these sectors of your business need to be eliminated or do they need a push to help them move forward?