Friday, March 11, 2011

Marketing Tips: 8 Ways You Can Stand Out from the Crowd

Here's why I love my Inbox: I get valuable information from my favorite bloggers and online marketers; I get to learn new things -- about conferences, social media, productivity and communications tools, newspapers and interesting people--etc. I even enjoy entering contests for goodies and giveaways, and I love commenting on provocative blogs, not to get attention, but because I enjoy writing and stating my opinion. That's why I blog here. 

Here's why I get...well...frustrated with my inbox. Too much repetition. While it's important in marketing to have a niche, I find that many folks repeat their offerings and messaging too many times, without moving on. It's almost at the point where I can predict the offer someone is going to make. Not good. Or, there can be a lot of  heavy selling going on, or a merciless landing page that I barely even read, much less decide if I want the offer or not. These are just a few of my pet peeves.

So, in thinking about what keeps my interest in my email messages and my social media communities, I decided to list some of the key elements:

1. Vary your social circle in your blog posts and updates: 
Don't just reference the same people all the time in your tweets, updates, and posts.The whole point of social media is to connect with new people outside your current social circle, and I've seen too many people stick with their existing ones for too long. Hello...that's not the point.

2. Don't tweet or link to the same old resources:
It can get tedious to read links from the same publications all the time. I love online marketers who find unusual sources to tweet or post about.

3. Spice up your media mix:
If you always blog with text and photos, try posting videos at least once a week, or an interesting slide show, or an infographic. It really helps liven things up. Hubspot is great for varying its content quite a bit, and even posts cartoons  as well as a great selection of e-books. 

4. Redecorate or redesign your homepage or website:
The best online marketers are always tweaking and adjusting their blogs and websites to keep up with the times.
Sometimes, even a small change like updating your profile photo, or your design elements, can refresh your online image and branding. Sometimes, a new tag line or logo is in order, too. This is a great way to draw new attention to your site, particularly if you combine a redesign with a new product launch or contest, to get your audience involved.

5. Reply to Comments:
I'm surprised how many bloggers stress the importance of community and responding to your audience, and then fail to do that very thing themselves when it comes to their own publications. If you want to get my attention, comment on my comment, or at least acknowledge it. We all like a little validation, and this will indeed make  you standout online. 

6. Try A New Adventure and Tell Us About It:
OK, maybe you don't need to go skydiving or travel to exotic places all the time like Peter Shankman (HARO), but everyone likes a good story, even if it's talking about airport food, as Chris Brogan has often chronicled so well.

7. It's All in the Details:
Often, great branding, which sets you apart from your competitors,  is on the subtle side. It could be a compelling logo or tagline, or  even as subtle as the settings you use for your photos and videos. A few months ago, there was an apparent craze to take video blogging  out of doors, and suddenly everyone was posting from parks and forests. It inspired me to grab my camera and get out to the woods myself!

8. Write a Book:
I know it's a bit cliche these days when it seems like so many people are writing books, but I do think it is your calling card in many ways. There are so many branding opportunities with a book -- from the cover, to speaking opportunities, to creating an entire blog based on the book -- that it's really a win/win situation. Even if everyone you know has published a book the same week you have (highly unlikely), no one else has the exact same title or theme, layout, design, or goal. This is what makes you unique.

There are many other ways you can stand out from the crowd and be unique in your marketing. What did I leave out? Add your thoughts here!

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