I have always wondered how many people know what their calling is. Do you know? It might be easier to notice what someone's calling is and share that with him or her than to figure it out for ourselves. - "Calling My Calling," Lisa Haneberg's Management Craft
I've been offline for two days. In the Circle. Me and my journal. A few coffee shops, libraries, bookstores and hikes for inspiration. Besides noting the themes I write over and over again, somewhere it sunk in what other people have told me my gifts are.
My bestest friends know me too well for anyone one gift to jump out. It's the intuitive acquaintences that have stopped me cold. They're right. And I knew they were right.
"Nice is nowhere," the noted marketer Laura Cutler once said. "You do not want everyone to like what you do... You want 10 percent to love it." - Harry Beckwith, What Clients Love (fantastic book!)
Ahem I was offering very nice services over at Business Blog Coach.
Ian Schrager created and runs a revolutionary chain of hotels [Ian founded, now Morgans Hotel Group] including New York's Paramount and Royalton hotels. His properties are to hotels what Salvador Dali paintings are to art - not for everyone.
Schrager expressly designs his hotels for one traveler in twenty-five. "Let twenty four despise them for all I care," he has said.
"Just so one in twenty-five love them."
Can any marketer afford to be that provocative? Can you write off 96 percent of the public?
Apparently. Schrager's hotels net more than $20 million a year.
If everyone feels comfortable with your idea, it isn't an idea. It's an imitation. Push beyond that toward the edge [echoes Seth Godin's advice in Purple Cow], toward something like a fingerprint - something so distinctive it resonates powerfully with a few.
Avoid "nice." - Harry Beckwith, What Clients Love
Avoid nice. Go for remarkable.
Your company's fingerprint so embossed no one else could possibly fill that market niche. It's made for YOU. In this age of hyperlocal boutique microbrand long tail business, it's the only thing that makes sense (unless you're a Fortune 100 company.)
More: Suddenly, it's all different: How social media favors the little guys (and makes the big guys nervous) is the title of Seth Godin's keynote at BlogOn 2005 conference October 17-18 in NYC. More links on the little guy meme here.
p.s. The idea I came up with was right under my nose. Tailored for me. (It's not about blog consulting.) I'll probably be able to share with you by WebZine 2005, September 24-25, San Francisco. By the way, anyone out there help me with a quick English to Sanskrit translation for one word?
p.p.s. If you are boutique firm, consultancy, agency or a free agent, you might want to sign up for a course on signature branding with conversational media for your own offerings (and/or for a client project). It may be the only time this year (or ever, I'm busy launching blogs) I personally offer this five-week immersive online coaching starting September 1st (or as soon as I have at least 4 enrolled). Check the about page at Business Blog Coach or email me.
Update: Several folks pointed out the broken link above to Business Blog Coach (About page), which I've fixed. The signature branding via business blogs class won't start - today is September 1st - until I've gotten four students. I'll be sharing more private business plan details of the new blog(s) I'm launching as an example in the course. We'll be connecting your dots backward to determine the product/service with that's uniquely custom-fitted for your firm's passions and talents (and thus your sustainable competitive advantage), and its accompaning blog audience strategy and marketing plan (as part of integrated marketing plan - we'll discuss too). Because of the situated coaching style, it's suited for newbies and long-time bloggers alike.
The connect the dots theme is from Steve Job's commencement speech: "Because I had dropped out and didn't have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class... If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, its likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later."