When you want to look different, you have to get outside of the box.
The problem is always… “is it safe out there?” And then the semi-convinced, “ok, but how?” Or the classic realization, that “since what’s in the box works pretty well, why would we want to get outside of it, like, ever?”
It’s scary. It feels a lot better to just copy what everyone else is doing. It might feel good for a moment to color outside of the lines, but should you make a strategy out of it?
Why would anybody ever follow anyone into the unknown?!
There are two tried and true methods for making sure your strategy is outside of the box. When you decide you have to be. When you know you need to take the step.
And neither are guaranteed to work. But either method is a path to differentiation. If it’s time, you’ll know – I’m proof (sharing below):
Contrarian: do the opposite
Creative: do something deliberately different
I’ll be the example. Feels weird. Such is life outside the box.
I’ve been exploring outside of the box marketing strategies for my day job in the financial planning and investment advice world. My firm is gearing up more of the inside of the box stuff, but for me personally, I’m trying to try new things. I think this balance is actually important (don’t totally abandon a perfectly good box peoples).
One contrarian strategy I’m using is to encourage more people to do it themselves. The thing we do, the one people pay us to do – that’s the one I am committing to proactively proclaim, “you can do this if you want and here’s how” about.
Why? In theory, I know they can. In practice, some who will try will eventually say, “Matt’s right, but this sucks, maybe I should hire him/his firm.”
One creative strategy I’m using is to be my normal (re: abnormal) self. More music-based posts, rabbit holes about story structure/narrative arcs, honest-if-not-embarassing personal stuff. The big idea is, I’m deliberately leaving out The Business.
Why? In theory, people do business with people (not corporations, which I know, as a former financial Death Star employee who parted ways to serve a bunch of very human clients who liked me more than “Palpatine, Vader, Pierce, Fenner, and Smith”). In practice, they say to bring your whole self to work (and they’re always lying when they say this fwiw), but I think bringing my whole self to life is a good way to show people what they’re getting when engaging with you.
With a contrarian and creative strategy in place, one thing will be abundantly clear: I’m different, in a different way.
Get out of your box. Keep it, you might have stuff to put in it or that you won’t take out of it until later. But life in a box is no way to live OR run your business.