At least once a week, somebody reaches out to me and leads off their question or comment by saying their business is different. Most marketers, CEOs, and salespeople think their business or the industry they serve is "different".
B2B companies say their business is different. Lawyers say their business is different. Educational institutions say their business is different. Auto dealers say their business is different. Real estate agents say their business is different. Hospitals say their business is different. I could go on and on.
However, I believe that businesses are much more alike than different. Growing a business is about making a human connection that creates fans.
I'm convinced we can all can learn much more by looking at different businesses and industries than focusing on our own. For example, I’m an author and a speaker but most of what I like to model myself on are musicians who put out albums, sell merch, and (when we aren’t in a pandemic) perform concerts. I prefer to learn from musicians than other authors.
The same thing is true in other industries. If you run an enterprise software business, modeling your marketing on other enterprise software businesses is way too limiting.
Is your reluctance based on fear?
In my experience discussing these ideas with hundreds of people, I’ve come to believe an obsession in only what your industry does is often a sign of fear - a reluctance to try something different.
We all face fear in our professional and personal lives. Fear of the strange, of the new, of the untested. We fear bucking the trend and going against the accepted. It's a natural human response.
There are many manifestations of fear:
Fear of looking silly.
Fear that if you put yourself out there, that people will say negative things about you.
Fear that if you don’t have an MBA or whatever degree is deemed important to the gatekeepers in your world, you don’t have the qualification to act.
Fear that makes you sell your products and services in the way that you’ve always done (like cold calling).
Fear that giving away your best content for free won’t benefit you.
Fear that competition knows more than you do, resulting in you copying their moves.
Fear that something won’t work in your industry, or your geography, or your company, or with your customers.
Fear of new marketing strategies resulting insistence on calculating the ROI of something before you try it.
Time to act
To truly achieve greatness, you must act. That might mean you are a pioneer, a rebel, an instigator. You may need to challenge the status quo and make a difference in the world.
Yes, you might fail. You could even fail spectacularly.
But a fear of failure is not a reason to copy what others in your industry are doing.
You can do it. It doesn't matter what line of work you're in or what group of buyers you're trying to reach or what you want to accomplish.
If you're like many people I meet, you have colleagues or family members who will argue with you. They will say you’re not up to it or your ideas won’t work.
But you know they’re wrong because you’ve managed your fear.