I was reading the Duct Tape Marketing blog yesterday and came across a post that really got my wheels turning … What’s the Measure of One Word? I think I even dreamed about it, one of the unfortunate side effects of being a serial blogger. In it, John Jantsch says:
“It’s absolutely essential that you find a way to differentiate your business in a meaningful way. I know I talk about this all the time, but it’s that important.
What if you interviewed a handful of clients and asked them this question: “What’s the ONE word you would use that best describes what we do well?” Is it fast, attentive, welcoming, creative, cheap, cool, techie, smart, caring? One word is tough, but you need to get there. One simple word that sums up how you are different. If you can do that, and it’s a word that means a lot to a lot, your marketing job will be significantly easier.”
Wow, choosing one word seems like such a challenge, but it really does force you to think clearly about how you distinguish yourself from your pack of competitors.
In the early hours this morning, I started to think about a number of businesses I am familiar with, and the words I would use to describe them:
- Ali Brown, The Ezine Queen: Sexy. Strange, I know, to have this word come up for someone that writes about the merits of e-newsletters and online marketing. Doesn’t sound too racy, does it? But the owner, Ali Brown, consciously markets herself as “online marketing expert and party girl.” She includes pictures of herself in bikinis cavorting in Mexico and details exploits with her gal pals in limo rides around Beverly Hills in her blog. She is actually really sharp and provides lots of good info. But, agree with it or not, she has chosen to promote a brand that says “if you listen to my advice, you could have a life like me!” and … subconsciously, “maybe you can look a little bit like me too!” Who wouldn’t want to look like a Baywatch character all by writing a good newsletter?
- Andy Wibbels: Edgy. Andy is a long-time blogging evangelist and business coach that wrote the book Blogwild and always has a funny and sarcastic slant on the world. An example is his short “Loofah Your Blog” excerpt from his Blogging Blunders mini-lesson. Or the recent post Trimming the Freaks about getting rid of annoying customers or blog readers. He is not afraid to take a stand on unpopular topics. Edgy might not be the word he uses to describe himself: it may be Natty, per the comment from his friend Suzanne Falter-Barns.
- Robert Middleton, Action Plan Marketing: Clear. Robert is a marketing expert that works exclusively with independent service professionals. Everything I read from him is straightforward, easy to understand and logical. He is not what I would consider radical or revolutionary, but he has a knack for creating processes and systems that make marketing accessible to people that are new to the field.
- Dave Barry, Miami Herald columnist: Hilarious. It might just be me, but I can’t help laughing outloud whenever I read one of Barry’s columns. Like “Honk if You’re Married and Can’t Cope With Anger” or “Science: It’s Just Not Fair.” He is more than sarcastic, or sardonic,or witty.
- Joel Spolsky, Joel on Software: Smart. I am not a technical person, but I really enjoy reading what Joel writes. There may be a more specific word to describe what makes him unique, but I can’t find it … if you know of a word that combines smart + funny + accessible, that would be his word. Amazing X-Ray Glasses from Sprint and The Development Abstraction Layer are good examples of his writing, which always make me think and smile.
These examples illustrate my perspective on people I see from afar as an interested reader or customer. As you try to come up with your own word that distinguishes your company, think about it from the perspective of your customers, readers or users. Which adjective would they use to describe you? John suggests:
“What if you asked all your clients and associates to help you come up with your word and then asked them to give you their thoughts on what that word means or how they experience that word. (This would make a very fun activity for a client appreciation party – just add beer.)
If you actually did that you might uncover some incredible marketing material and may even come up with the motivation to inject your word and all its various meanings into everything you do – make your word your filter for every marketing decision.”
Any thoughts on a word for your own business? I am kind of perplexed for mine – your suggestions are appreciated. (a recent commenter, unimpressed with a short post, suggested “vague” and “metaphysical.” as in “That was so vague and metaphysical it was of no practical use.” I have a feeling I couldn’t launch a strong marketing campaign with those words 🙂