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Shake Up the Status Quo

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If you want to get noticed, you need to do something that makes you stand out from the crowd. The last article that appeared in this column, “I Don’t Want to Build a Damn List,” is a prime example. It made people stop and think. It stood out from the normal drivel, and made people go “Wow, that’s the most refreshing thing I’ve read on the topic lately!”

It actually ticked off a few people too. But in the end, it did what it was intended to do… it got attention.

Now, some people choose to get attention by being outrageous. I’m sure you’ve heard stories about an elephant down at the local used car lot, right? Or maybe you’ve heard gossip about a scandalous comment made by one person, about someone or something. It got noticed didn’t it?

There are many people in this world though, that hate to shake the proverbial tree. They’re uncomfortable with too much attention, and heartbroken (or at least greatly disturbed) by negative attention. So, they take pains to stay as neutral as they can. And oftentimes they struggle to get anywhere.

Shaking up the status quo doesn’t mean you have to be publicly critical of someone or something. It doesn’t mean you have to do outrageous stunts either. In today’s world, old-fashioned values like service, saying thank you, or giving 110% are unusual… so use them to your advantage.

I’m sure you have a unique selling point for your business, right? If not, stop right here and go define it before you go out of business.

Now, take your USP — and run with it. For example:

- If your USP is “we sell more widgets than anyone else in the country”, then go to your inventory list right now, and make SURE you really do. Research your competition, and even if they have 5 fewer items than you do… go add more to your inventory.

- If your USP is “we provide fast customer service”, then make damn sure you actually do. 24 hour email response is fast in most cases, but what’s the competition doing? Or even related fields? Find out, then do it better… whatever it takes.

A great case in point is Virtualis Systems. This was a tiny little home-grown company that launched back in 1996. They had no money, but they did need a way to stand out in a crowd. So, they decided their unique selling point would be awesome customer service. By email.

They couldn’t afford the high cost of telephone service, so email was chosen as their best communication medium. And to make it work, they had to work it. So, they devised a plan to answer all email messages in less than one hour.

This is unheard of even today.

And what happened to Virtualis? They became wildly popular. They had an affiliate program totaling more than 40,000 people all over the world. They doubled their growth time and time again. And when it came time for funding? They got $7 million right out of the gate. Eventually they were purchased by a large telecom company for quite a tidy sum.

So, shake up the status quo in your niche. Live your USP to the EXTREME. Find out who’s doing your thing better, or almost as well, then make yours so good that it’ll take years to top it.

Doing this will create a buzz… causing your business to grow farther than you ever might have dreamed.

(c)2003, Kathy Burns-Millyard. All Rights Reserved

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And you can find out more about Kathy at
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Shake Up the Status Quo
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