Blaze Your Own Trail to Business Success

Something interesting happens between childhood and adulthood. As children, people tend to not want others to copy them. As adults, however, we spend a considerable amount of time trying to copy those around us. We see someone with a new idea, and all we want to do is imitate their accomplishments. Someone successfully develops a new app, and 50 similar ones seem to spring up overnight.

While imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, it’s not always the key to success.

Consider this example: Two sisters, Anna and Mary, sit down together to draw pictures. As with many big sister/little sister pairs, Mary looks up to her big sister. She carefully watches as Anna sets about drawing a picture of their family house with everyone out in the yard. Mary picks up each crayon as Anna lays it down, then goes about copying her sister’s artwork.

After a few minutes, Anna notices what Mary is doing. “Mary, don’t just copy me!” she exclaims. “You have to make your own picture.”

Anna recognizes what many adults fail to see. If Mary simply copies her picture, she won’t be able to demonstrate her own strengths. If the sisters’ drawings are exactly the same, neither will stand out as unique. When they both create their own pictures, however, then each picture stands on its own merits and creative vision.

How to apply this to business

Developing new ideas in business is difficult. It takes a uniquely creative mind to come up with a useful service or product that no one else has thought of before. It can certainly be tempting to just copy another company or business model and hitch a ride on their road to success.

Unfortunately, this strategy rarely works. If you’re offering potential customers exactly the same product or service as an already established company, what reason would they possibly have to switch to you? Your business isn’t unique or special. Instead, it’s a copy of one they already know and trust.

Creating something unique

There’s nothing wrong with using another person’s success as a source of inspiration, but have confidence that you have something special to bring to the table, too. Find a way to work that into your business model.

For example, say you worked in retail for a considerable amount of time while putting yourself through school. You may decide to specialize in helping retail stores with their marketing plans. Or perhaps you’ve found new ways to cut administrative costs and are able to offer potential clients lower prices for the same high-quality service.

Whether you’re a budding entrepreneur or an established business pro, keep looking for things you can bring to the table that your competitors can’t.

Blaze your own trail. Find your own niche. And build your own success story other entrepreneurs will want to copy.

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Hitching a Ride on the Bandwagon

Have you ever wondered why most brides wear white for their weddings? The white wedding gown became common after the wedding of Queen Victoria to Prince Albert in 1840. Before that, brides would wear a variety of different colors for their big days. Women would choose blue, yellow, black, or even brown for their wedding dresses. The primary consideration was finding the nicest dress the woman already owned.

In the mid 19th century, however, that began to change.

The queen’s wedding was well-photographed, and the image of the white wedding gown intrigued people. Other members of the higher classes began to choose white wedding gowns as well. Etiquette books and advice began to speak about the value of wearing a white wedding gown, especially as it communicated the bride’s purity. Although it became increasingly more common, it still would not become mainstream among all the social classes for another century.

After WWII, Hollywood and film became increasingly popular, and guess what color brides wore on the silver screen? You got it: white. It was the presentation of Hollywood’s brides that largely sealed the fate of the white wedding gown.

So what does any of this have to do with marketing?

Well, the white wedding gown is an excellent example of the bandwagon effect. When society’s elites throughout North America and Europe saw the Queen of England marry in a white wedding gown, they felt driven to mimic her style. The same principle applied to the rest of society mimicking Hollywood. People saw their favorite stars adorning themselves in gorgeous white gowns and wanted the opportunity to take part in the style as well. A tradition was born, and now brides that choose to select other colors are viewed with mild surprise. It only took a few generations for the concept of a white wedding gown to become that firmly entrenched in culture.

This is the bandwagon effect at work. When we see our friends or those we admire doing something or using a particular product, we want to try that product ourselves. We feel that if these other people like this product or service, it must be worth trying. Finding a way to capitalize on this effect can help you boost your sales and brand loyalty.

Using the bandwagon effect in marketing

  • Pictures are a valuable tool. Sponsor photo contests where people take pictures of themselves using your products or services.
  • Use Facebook features that let people see how many of their friends have ‘liked’ your company.
  • Offer rewards for existing customers who refer others to your company.

Like the white wedding dress, your company can benefit from the bandwagon effect. You might never make your product an inherent part of the national culture, but you will be able to increase sales and conversions by capitalizing on the ‘me, too!’ phenomenon. If you want to start developing a new marketing campaign, visit http://www.copyset.com to help you get started.

What, Exactly, is Content Marketing?

You’ve probably heard all the buzz about content marketing, yet may still be wondering what, exactly, it is. Content marketing is simply the new form of marketing that uses informative content, rather than blatant sales pitches, to attract potential customers. Instead of proverbially bashing people over the head with whatever you’re trying to sell, content marketing entices them to come to you to learn more about your product, services, and brand.

So, how the heck do you do that?

Create a two-way conversation.

Old-school advertising was pretty much a one-way street with the company doing all the talking. Content marketing turns it into a two-way conversation by actively engaging the audience. Do this by encouraging comments on your blog posts and social media sites, holding contests, or otherwise reaching out to your audience for input.

Keep up your end of the bargain.

Asking for audience participation is good, but it’s not so good if you do nothing with the information you gleaned. Reply to audience comments; respond to their requests and needs. Perhaps a certain aspect of your website keeps getting the same complaint. Hold up your end of the conversation by acknowledging the issue and perhaps even tweaking whatever’s wrong to better fill people’s needs.

Make it easy to find you.

Of course, you won’t have any conversations at all if people can’t find you. In addition to a user-friendly company website, you should set up a blog and accounts on your chosen social media platforms that all easily link back to your website. When you share a blog post or add new information to your website, share the link across your social media channels.

You don’t have to go nuts and join every single social media platform out there. Instead, focus on the ones where your target audience is most likely to tread. Learn more by analyzing the social media habits of your target demographic, then go where those folks go.

Fuel your audience with quality content.

Keeping your audience engaged means keeping up a steady flow of quality content. Again, you don’t have to go nuts trying to post something new and exciting every five minutes, but you do want to add fuel to your content marketing fire with fresh content on a regular basis.

Note the keyword “quality” here. Provide content that’s polished, informative, compelling, and even entertaining. While text may make up a good chunk of your content, also take advantage of the power of pictures and videos. Include them in related posts, or let them fly solo if they say all they need to say on their own.

Since people are none too fond of reading the same stuff again and again, make sure you cover a variety of different topics that are relevant to your audience.

Don’t bombard your audience.

Bombarding your audience can consist of that aforementioned strategy of beating them over the head to “buy, buy, buy” with every post you create. But it can also include posting at such a rapid and fanatical rate that your audience has no time to absorb, respond, or even breathe.

More is not necessarily better, especially if the more is of poor quality. Over-posting can not only mar your reputation as a professional, but it can backfire in a big way. Instead of being attracted to your company, you may instead find your audience fleeing in droves, leaving you with no one left to talk to but yourself.

Mastering the art of attraction is just one aspect of content marketing, but it’s one of the most essential for eventual success.

3 Mistakes You Could Be Making With Your Offline Marketing

Do you think offline marketing is obsolete? It isn’t…not by a long shot. In fact, you need to pay just as close attention to your offline marketing as you do to your online marketing in order to achieve success.

Used in conjunction with online marketing, offline marketing can help ensure your message gets across to your audience in a variety of ways, making it more likely they will become customers. However, you have to go about offline marketing the right way for it to be effective.

Here are three mistakes you could be making with your offline marketing and how to correct them.

1. Giving Up on Direct Mail

What’s the point of using direct mail when you have the Internet, right? Well, the point is that people still appreciate the personal touch an attractively printed card in the mail gives them. It shows you care enough to take the time to get a contact’s information and send them a card the old-fashioned way. People can take their time looking over a direct mail ad, considering it for days or longer before making a decision. Direct mail gets results.

2. Not Carrying Business Cards

Business cards are still the accepted professional way to introduce yourself and your business to other businesspeople. They’re an industry must at trade shows and a courteous thing to provide to new contacts. Don’t just assume everyone is going to type your contact information into their smart phone when they meet you. Most people don’t have the time. Get good-looking business cards printed up. Include your phone number, email, and website, and hand them out to everyone you meet. An attractive business card still commands respect in the business world.

3. Avoiding Community Bulletin Boards

All of those flyers and business cards posted on community bulletin boards get more attention than you’d think. Flyers get the most attention because they’re large and easy to see. Print some bright, eye-catching ones with engaging graphics and a bold phone number in plain sight. Before you know it, your phone will start ringing with new customers. You’ll probably get some new ones coming through your door, too.

Offline marketing is still important. It works best when used in conjunction with an online marketing campaign, so you can reach more people and present a unified message. Make sure your ads are attractive, engaging, and intriguing, and you’ll get new customers from them.