Dec 2, 2010

Be an Orange Tree in an Evergreen Forest

What makes your business unique? What do you do differently? Why should I choose you? These are the questions your customers are wrestling with. They need your help.

Spend a few minutes on Google, and you can find virtually anything. We live in a golden age of choice. The problem is everyone looks the same. Every company has a website. They’re pretty professional, and they seem to say the right things. But what makes one firm better than another? It’s a little like wandering through an evergreen forest. Site-after-site looks the same.

The bland, vanilla landscape presents a huge opportunity for you. It doesn’t take much to stand out and be an orange tree in the evergreen forest. You just have to draw out and present your passions and unique abilities in your brand. You have to make a concentrated effort to show the world how you are different.

We’re hardwired to spot differences

Try a little experiment. Go to your local mall, and people watch. It’s the perfect time of year to people watch with Christmas around the corner. Find a bench or a comfortable spot where you can watch the action. For the first few minutes just enjoy the experience. Get into the groove, and have some fun watching people passing by. Once you’re into the groove start taking note of what catches your attention.

You won’t notice most of the people passing by, but every now and then something will catch your eye. A commotion amongst a group of people. A person trips and falls. A bright bag. An attractive person. These little differences capture our attention.

At the most basic human level we are hardwired to spot differences. It’s our lizard brains protecting us with the fight or flight mechanism. As cavemen we had to pay attention to the slight variations in our environments. A rustling bush could signal a predator is lurking behind it.

Today, we aren’t too worried about saber tooth tigers, but changes in our environment still capture our attention.

Take this as a challenge

Take the mall experiment a step further. Do a Google search on your business category, and look at the top results. For example search “recruiter Toronto” or “accountant Chicago”. Do any of the sites blow you away? Are there any that are markedly unique or better than the rest? How does your website stack up in this competitive landscape?

Be critical of yourself. Do you look like everyone else, or do you stand out like an orange tree in an evergreen forest? Most of the time your website is initiating the customer relationship. Your customers are visiting your site, and forming an opinion on your company based on what they see. Be sure to manage this experience carefully, and create a meaningful first impression.

Take this as a challenge. Make sure you stand out, and catch people’s attention.

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