Zig When Others Zag

Most people start their business for a handful of reasons; they’re awfully good at something and everyone recommends that they turn it into a side hustle, or perhaps they have a passion project they’ve been trying to monetize. Maybe they are tired of not being able to find the service or product that THEY actually want, so they create it. “I could do this better” has undoubtedly popped into the startup entrepreneur’s mind many times before building their empire!

Most of my businesses were “hey-I’m-pretty-good-at-this” side hustles, but a few of my endeavors have been outside that parameter. And early on, I fell into the trap of paying too much mind to others who seemed to have what I wanted. (I’m not saying that modeling your business after others who are successful is a bad idea–it’s market research!) The problem with this behavior, though, is two-fold; it encourages imposter syndrome (“Who am I to try and do this, anyway?”) and also promotes zagging.

“You don’t need a physical enemy; you need to be against a belief or idea in a way that resonates with your customers.”

Ciotti, G. (Help Scout, Understanding Consumer Behavior to Convert More Customers, 2020)

What is zagging, you say? Well, it’s going with the grain. Sometimes in business, that’s no Bueno.

In my humble opinion as a person who has operated many businesses and made many mistakes myself in the past, zigging is an excellent practice. You just need to know WHEN and WHY to do it.

In a 2020 Article from Help Scout, Gregory Ciotti wrote “You don’t need a physical enemy; you need to be against a belief or idea in a way that resonates with your customers” and I believe this to be very true. You need to find something to stand UP for so that you can stand OUT with your customers. Zigging is one of your best defenses against blending in, and one of your strongest tools for differentiation when it comes to products and services.

For example, in 2008 when I started my first professional photography business, I knew that I hated waiting a really long time for professional photos, and I also despised the spotty communication that was, unfortunately, a big issue in the industry. I wanted to stand out with my image turnaround times, and I wanted to be an absolute gold medalist in customer satisfaction and communication. Yes, this did put some stress on me to deliver. However, pushing those values helped me continuously differentiate my photography business during a time of serious saturation in the field! Photo previews and often deliveries within 24 hours–even after a very long wedding day–have been my promise to my photography clients for years, and it has helped me to build a rock-solid rapport and a business that supports my family.

Fast forward to 2020–when everyone was talking about how to be even MORE present on social media, and MORE active to encourage virtual engagement while the rest of the world was shut down–my digital media company was one of the first and the only companies to say what was on everyone’s mind (ESPECIALLY the small business owner.) That statement was, “Social media sucks” along with my webinar “Let Social Media Go” which focused on delegating soul-draining tasks. We weren’t trying to advise clients against promoting their businesses online. We were just trying to be real about the devastating repercussions of losing yourself in your plan for socials. Because the thing is, when it comes to business, you can’t escape digital marketing. However, you can refine your efforts, delegate, and set firm boundaries around your social media and content marketing.

Verbalizing the elephant in the room simultaneously made our clients both trust us AND understand how they needed us in their lives. Why? Because everyone else was telling them they had to dance on TikTok or life would be over. (Such a mean lie, lol.)

See how that works?

Whether you are dreaming about your first start-up or you are operating a seasoned business, I encourage you to think about how you have zigged lately. If you take a look at your current industry and your competitors and analyze it carefully, you can identify one of three things:

  1. A weak spot (an aspect of service that is underdeveloped, often sub-par, or maybe just plain missing)
  2. Something you really disagree with on a professional, ethical or moral level (Example: restaurants that lack family-friendly options or accessibility for patrons)
  3. A trend that hasn’t been embraced yet Somebody had to be the first place to offer free internet to customers, right?

That’s your homework for today…how can you zig?

Make standing out as a professional or business your #1 priority for a while, and see how it transforms what you do. This topic will need to be revisited and refreshed ever so often–that’s how you stay in front!

Are you stuck on this topic, or looking to hash it out with a branding and marketing expert? I’d love to chat with you! You can grab a free consultation with the button below–the software makes it easy for you to find a time and method that works best for you. Hope to chat with you soon!

P.S. You may be thinking, “I DON’T EVEN HAVE TIME FOR LOCAL MARKET RESEARCH UGH!!!” and, my friend, I completely get it. Did you know that you can hire Launch Branding & Strategy to do a report on this local market research for you? We’ll compare your top competitors, analyze your target audience and pull out the golden nuggets of information for you in a beautiful and simple report. Just ask!

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