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Most of you will recognize the title of this article. It was Apple Computer’s tagline from 1997 to 2002. Whether you are a fan of Apple products or not, there’s no denying that the company has been one of the most innovative companies on the planet. Why? Because they “think different." While critics scorned the tagline for being grammatically incorrect, Apple drew attention. Quite the strategy.


Why is it important for a business to “think different”? Primarily because of the way our brains work. The brain, among other things, is a filtering device. It seeks out things that are different from the norm. Our whole day is spent under a barrage of information and images. The brain’s job is to distinguish “so what” from “what’s this?”

In order for a business to avoid becoming a “so what”, they must figure out how to differentiate themselves from their competition. What is unique about your business? Why should I buy from you? You’re just like all the other vendors... right?

 

Here are a few ideas on how to differentiate your business:

Be different. Common sense, right? Not really. Most businesses never sit down and try to figure out what makes them different. In fact, they desperately try to be a carbon copy of their competition. They join associations that tell them how to be just like the other guy selling the same product the same way for the same price. This is a crackerjack strategy if you desire to be incredibly average.

Did you go into business to become incredibly average? I’m guessing not. So take the time. Ask yourself: Who are we? What is it that we do? Why does that matter to the customer?

Create a product or service that nobody else offers. Change your customer’s purchase experience to the point that it will be difficult for your competition to match. Give them different payment options. Put on a seminar that would be of interest to them. Give away technical support when others charge for it.

Tell them you’re different. While it may be nice to hear, “Wow, I didn’t know you guys could do that”, it serves as an indication that you are falling short in your messaging. It makes no sense to have a good story if it goes untold. On the other hand, people are tired of hearing the same old “so what” story. Make your story interesting and tell it to as many people as possible. You can accomplish this through your advertising efforts.

 

Is your business a “so what”, or do you make people sit up and say “what’s this?”.