When you brainstorm your new business idea, or look at your company, it is critical to ask yourself, “How are we different?”
Differentiation is critically important when it comes to connecting with your target audience. This is especially true if the chances are high that there are others delivering a similar product or service.
People are naturally inclined to look for how things are different. Without even consciously thinking about it people often ask these kinds of questions when confronted with similar options:
- Is this new app a significantly better way for me to get x, y or z?
- Does this university offer more online classes in my field of interest?
- Will this company provide me more relevant and actionable data than the company I am currently using?
- How does this company’s customer service compare to the company I am using now?
Differentiation covers a lot of ground.
Constantly look at how you are different, and do not be afraid to consistently highlight those differences as a key value.
Instead of leaving such a list on my personal Facebook profile, where I have privacy settings that will prevent many people from seeing it, I’ve decided to create a running list of goals and dreams for 2013 and beyond on the Colliding With The Social Web blog. Feel free to add your own below as a comment using the form below.
Family Goals – 2013
- Outline all the ways I need to improve as a father, and make them happen, so I have the best possible relationship with my daughter. ONGOING AND 2013
- Devote more time and energy to my family, especially those who have cared and provided so much for me all my life.
- Ensure that my immediate family has no financial strains.
- Make sure my daughter develops good study habits and has what she needs to be a successful student.
- Cook more delicious and healthy meals for my daughter and me. Eat out much less.
- Plan a family get-together for either the summer or fall in New England.
- Take my daughter on a vacation she will enjoy.
- Reach out to my Aunt Sue in Florida who I have not seen since my father passed away almost 20 years ago.
Personal Goals – 2013
- Return to what I weighed 15 years ago.
- Get up and swim at least 3 times a week, and workout every day for at least 30 minutes.
- Complete a book I started writing many years ago.
- When faced with difficult challenges or personalities, always handle with patience, and communicate with courtesy, respect and intelligence.
- Learn Spanish.
- Listen more.
- Travel alone to a place where I can unwind in my own way.
- Surprise people throughout the year with anonymous acts of kindness.
Professional Goals – 2013
- Establish the framework for a new type of school in Loudoun County that focuses on business, technology, entrepreneurial studies and ethics.
- Build a strong Reform Party presence in Virginia, and run candidates for state and local office in 2013 and 2014.
- Re-Launch “Our Solutions” as a comprehensive platform for citizens to better crowd-source policy ideas that can be implemented by politicians at the federal and state level.
- Outline and implement a creative way to help working adults better fund their education without adding more debt.
- Discover new clients and launch more successful campaigns than in 2012.
- Get quoted in several news outlets.
- Have the strongest professional year of my life to date.
- Make 50 new and strong business connections.
Personal Long Term Goals
- Purchase an apartment in Bogota, Colombia so I can live in Bogota for part of the year.
- Learn how to play the guitar.
- Form a rock band, and develop, record and sell at least one album.
- Travel to Europe for at least two weeks to see historical sites (especially WWII sites).
- Attend the Bean Pot.
- See the Boston Celtics win the NBA Championship in person.
- Buy a Jeep Grand Cherokee and provide my daughter with a car for when she is old enough to drive.
- Afford my daughter’s high school and college education, so she can get through school either debt-free or with minimal debt.
Professional Long Term Goals
- Break ground on my school that focuses on business, technology, entrepreneurial studies and ethics.
- Expand educational opportunities for young people.
- Launch a successful technology start-up.
- Write a book on what I’ve learned professionally to this point in my life.
- See a member of the Reform Party elected President of the United States.
- Open a business office in another country.
- Be proud of the work I have done for my clients.
- Be known as a hard and smart worker, who was ethical and good to work with.
Building out a new website for your company, campaign or organization is a significant undertaking.
There are decisions to be made on who you select for your team, what technology to integrate, what platform to build on, the needs to your target audience, vendor selection, identifying who will manage the vendor, identifying the right internal stakeholders, setting the budget and a million other things that require careful evaluation.
One area that causes significant challenges and is often the most over-looked is correctly defining the scope of the project.
Failure to define what work needs to be done, your core needs and the technological realities, is the fastest way to blowing your budget out of the water with multiple new work orders and consulting fees, as well as to create a sour working relationship internally and externally with your vendor.
The construction of a new website should never just be the sprouts from the vision of a few executives or a project run by an isolated group in the marketing department. If you do not have someone who can anticipate a person’s online behavior, who understands site architecture and has a blend of marketing, social media and technological know-how, you are going to end up with a website that has significant holes and user-flow problems.
Here are three questions to ask yourself when defining the scope of your website project:
1) Do we have someone that can help the team to create a visual site map, and discover the initial design gaps before the site goes to build?
2) Do we have someone who has several years experience in SEO that can build a strong URL, page and content structure for the website that will generate the necessary search engine juice and help drive more organic traffic?
3) Do we have an expert in social media, online engagement and user behavior to evaluate the effectiveness of the new design and page structure?
If you have someone who can address all three of the above, then you have someone who should be part of the team that builds the scope of your project and sets the technical requirements.
When are the times you are most creative? Is it a particular day? A particular time of day?
Everyone should set aside time for creative exploration. But while it is important to do that, you also need to accept that there are many moments during your day (and night) when creativity strikes and you’re not prepared to receive it.
To capture the moment so it is not lost and you can recount it later, use what you have around you. Record a voice memo on your phone or use your phone to send yourself a note. Also, don’t be afraid on how it will look if you ask to borrow a pen or scribble your thoughts down on a napkin.
Creativity is an important thing to harness. And like many good things in life, it often does not appear on schedule.
Most people don’t consider how difficult it is to make a decision.
I think this is largely due to the fact that very few people know what it really means to decide something.
Sitting down to map-out how to start a business is not the same thing as deciding to do it. Creating a long list of creative ideas for marketing campaigns, or perhaps the desire to use social media to enhance customer service for your organization also are not decisions. Neither is setting a goal to lose 10 pounds before Thanksgiving, to move out, to file your taxes, to find a companion to share your life with or give back to your community. These are all examples of hopes, dreams, concepts and ideas, but not decisions.
Decision-making is difficult, because decisions require action. Often times, they require action we’ve been putting off because we presume the work is tedious or unpleasant.
In short, many of us create mental barricades around the action needed to make our dream or idea a reality, because while we want to fulfill our dreams – we associate too much pain, frustration or fear (sometimes all three at once) with taking the first step.
One way around this is to flip the pain, frustration or fear you feel to NOT taking action. Think of all the things you will end up denying yourself in the short-term and the long-term.