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Better Blog Branding: How to Stand Out By Being First

Branding is about being memorable. It’s about staking a claim to a specific part of your prospects brain and putting up a little white picket fence around it. In the last post of this series we looked at finding your uniqueness, in this one let’s look at a simple way you can stand out.

Your Prospects Mental Map

Everyone carries around in their head their map of their world. There are few things these maps agree on and many people go to quite strong lengths to maintain the status quo. Rather than fight against this resistance it is much easier to go with it.

Part of this map will be a list of brands for any particular topic. To give you an example, consider “cars”. Make a short list of car manufacturers.

Who stands out? Why?

Now rank them.

It doesn’t matter how you rank them, just quickly in your own head put them in some order.

Your prospects do the same thing, automatically, and for your own niche.

How did you rank your car list?

In most cases one property will demand most attention. Even when you think it is a subjective personal preference, say appearance, the attribute will convey a secondary property, such as “speed”, or “glamour”.

Cars are often ranked by speed and price (which often go together but not always). So your number one might be “fastest” or might be “most expensive”. The top spot is always “best”, but what “best” means can vary depending on what measure you most prize.

Regardless, if you want to stand out, be superlative.

  • First
  • Best
  • Biggest
  • Fastest
  • Cheapest
  • Safest

I put “first” first. Out of all the list of superlatives you can choose, first is easiest.

Consider price. Price is relative. You might be cheapest this week, but your competitors can easily change that. Price is a battle nobody can ultimately win. Blogs are mostly free but there are very few bloggers who have managed to charge subscription fees. You can bet those niches don’t hold price as their main criteria.

First works because you create a new ladder in your prospects mind, you become number one in all rankings because it is a brand new list. As well as being top dog of a new race, first also implies “original”, “authentic”, lots of real nice attributes. “The real thing”, making all the others “knock-off”, “counterfiet”, “copy-cats”, “me-too”.

How to be First in any Market

But what if someone already got there first?

The imediate thing you need to do is consider your uniqueness. If that isn’t enough then you need to create a substantial point of difference.

One of the easiest ways of being first is to be first in a sub-niche. Rather than attack the whole field, choose a focus and really own it.

My favourite example is Strobist. You might have read or heard me talk about it before so I will be brief :) David Hobby started a blog in the way crowded photography niche. What he created though was unique. Rather than talk about anything and everything to do with photography he chose to write about a niche of a niche, photography lighting. But he went even further, photography lighting using inexpensive equipment. He owned that niche from his first post and hist blog has been terrifically successful.

Sometimes though a sub-niche will be too small to be useful. You can still be first, you just have to come at the problem from a different direction.

Being First Without Being First

Another two examples for you, both in another crowded market. Performancing and this very blog you are reading.

How many blogs about blogging are there? A ton, and some very good ones too.

When we launched Performancing back in 2005 the obvious leader of the pack was ProBlogger. Darren was first, he was also the best and the biggest. We could either give up or find a way to compete.

We chose to be first.

But I already said Darren was first, how can that be?

Darren was the first in his niche, we created a new niche.

Problogger was the first blog for professional bloggers, we created the first multi-author blog community for professional bloggers. Darren even got involved, implying approval. After launch we made sure we got big fast, so we were the fastest growing, and eventually the biggest community of bloggers. Of course we didn’t stop there, we also created unique services.

Our own personal uniquenesses came into play. Nick was well known for his straight-talking-pull-no-punches approach. Andy was already known for link building and monetization. Up to that point I was mostly known in technical circles, yes I did a bunch of blog software reviews, but technical stuff wasn’t going to suit the wider audience. I needed something more to stand out. I created posts I thought would be useful, longer than most, and stuck to what I knew. Mostly I stayed away from direct monetization, partly because indirect monetization was my speciality but also because Andy was so good at that stuff.

Creating Chrisg.com

When my time at Performancing came to an end I had to start all over again. I decided to create my own, new, blog. But how to make it stand out?

What was my uniqueness again?

I still didn’t have a particularly big profile but I did have things I could draw on that would add value and I had an approach that was working for me.

Use Your Uniqueness

I noticed most of the articles about blogging were still quite short. Lots of it was still recycled. People were even recycling my Performancing stuff. Lots of people creating Digg-bait-lists. Other bloggers didn’t engage their communities very much. Very few actually taught any real marketing principles, even fewer based from experience. Most of all, blogs about blogging focused almost entirely on direct monetization.

The process I started at Performancing and continued here was to create longer posts, in a conversational tone, including the audience in the discussion, aiming to really help, focusing on indirect monetization, teaching useful marketing principals along the way. Friendly, marketing, detailed.

Name Your Niche

Once I found my stuff resonated with my audience I had the confidence to put a name to my new niche. I called it Authority Blogging. Names help differentiate, they give the niche something to hang off.

So here I am not just one of many bloggers blogging about blogging, I am the first blogger to write about Authority Blogging. But hopefully it is not just a name, I have put the work into creating value first, and then introduced the name. It’s often better to come up with a name last, rather than create the name and build the thing to fit.

So How Can You Be First In Your Market?

  1. What are your competitors doing?
  2. What can you do differently
  3. How can you demonstrate your differences?
  4. Can you give your new niche a name?

Chances are you have a blog already. The same process applies and would work best if based in the reality of what you have been producing.

Are you really different? Are you communicating that difference? How are you differentiating? Am I talking rubbish? Let me know in the comments …

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Comments

  1. Thanks Chris for an excellent post. Reminds me to pull out my Al Ries book and read it again.

  2. Thanks Chris for an excellent post. Reminds me to pull out my Al Ries book and read it again.

  3. Yes I think everyone should. Hmm … perhaps I should do a “must-read books” list?

  4. Yes I think everyone should. Hmm … perhaps I should do a “must-read books” list?

  5. This series begins to feel very much like a potential e-book, Chris!

  6. This series begins to feel very much like a potential e-book, Chris!

  7. Or part of a bigger one? … :)

  8. Or part of a bigger one? … :)

  9. Chris

    This is great food for thought….but since my blog is barely a month old how do I know if what I write is good, bad, first or last? Or if I’m unique or just another “also ran” in the blog race?

    After such a short time I’m surprised when I look at my statistics, people are reading my stuff and I am surprised at the numbers already.

    But am I “unique”….you really got me with this post.

  10. Chris

    This is great food for thought….but since my blog is barely a month old how do I know if what I write is good, bad, first or last? Or if I’m unique or just another “also ran” in the blog race?

    After such a short time I’m surprised when I look at my statistics, people are reading my stuff and I am surprised at the numbers already.

    But am I “unique”….you really got me with this post.

  11. Well you have a good start just with your blog name, I love it :)

  12. Well you have a good start just with your blog name, I love it :)

  13. Chris, good stuff, but I think you forgot one thing; being competent. Being first is great, being unique is great, but if you are first and unique yet not competent in your field then it won’t matter.

    The reason I read your blog and have no problems recommending it to others and have had you guest post on Search-This is simply because your are qualified. Your advice is sound and you deliver the message in an easy to understand format. That will always bring success.

    Again, being first is great, being unique is great, that gets people in the door, but after that you better have something to say…

  14. Chris, good stuff, but I think you forgot one thing; being competent. Being first is great, being unique is great, but if you are first and unique yet not competent in your field then it won’t matter.

    The reason I read your blog and have no problems recommending it to others and have had you guest post on Search-This is simply because your are qualified. Your advice is sound and you deliver the message in an easy to understand format. That will always bring success.

    Again, being first is great, being unique is great, that gets people in the door, but after that you better have something to say…

  15. Yes that’s kind of what I was getting at before, the customer experience has to live up to the promises you make :)

  16. Yes that’s kind of what I was getting at before, the customer experience has to live up to the promises you make :)

  17. Excellent post (as usual). I would love to see a list of “must-read” books, although I have a stack of about 20 that I still need to get to ;) Also, an e-book on the topic with various contributors would be very useful.

    As far as competence goes, just figuring out or creating a new niche for yourself that no one else has tackled should in itself lend to your credibility, to an extent. You would obviously have to have some passion and knowledge about the subject to even get to that point. How else would you have enough insight to pull it off?

  18. Excellent post (as usual). I would love to see a list of “must-read” books, although I have a stack of about 20 that I still need to get to ;) Also, an e-book on the topic with various contributors would be very useful.

    As far as competence goes, just figuring out or creating a new niche for yourself that no one else has tackled should in itself lend to your credibility, to an extent. You would obviously have to have some passion and knowledge about the subject to even get to that point. How else would you have enough insight to pull it off?

  19. Once again, Chris, you take the words from my mouth. By definition, each of our uniquenesses implies and requires its respective micro-niche. The objective after finding your uniqueness, is finding your niche, thus finding your audience and determining you market.

  20. Once again, Chris, you take the words from my mouth. By definition, each of our uniquenesses implies and requires its respective micro-niche. The objective after finding your uniqueness, is finding your niche, thus finding your audience and determining you market.

  21. I am loving your work Chris. Pro-blogger etc doesn’t really do it for me… something about your style does. Guess that’s your uniqueness coming out huh?

    You help me to focus though on what my brand really is… what makes me special.

    Ironically, what makes my blog unique and different, what makes ME unique and different is also what scared me for a couple of years because I was afraid people would think I was crazy…

    So in embracing my unique selling point – i.e. I perceive the energetic world from an experiential basis (translation, I had a Kundalini Awakening and experienced Oneness… don’t know what that’s all about, read my blog…) – I first had to get over this fear.

    You’ve also got me thinking about being ‘first’. When I started my blog, I couldn’t really find anyone else saying what I was saying and I thought that meant that maybe nobody wanted to HEAR what I had to say. (Who is this crazy woman – what does she mean food has energetic vibrations. Huh?)

    Now I see, via your post, that I can turn this to my advantage and stand up proud and say this is what I see.

    Even if many people don’t yet.

    So thank you!
    Much joy,
    KL

  22. I am loving your work Chris. Pro-blogger etc doesn’t really do it for me… something about your style does. Guess that’s your uniqueness coming out huh?

    You help me to focus though on what my brand really is… what makes me special.

    Ironically, what makes my blog unique and different, what makes ME unique and different is also what scared me for a couple of years because I was afraid people would think I was crazy…

    So in embracing my unique selling point – i.e. I perceive the energetic world from an experiential basis (translation, I had a Kundalini Awakening and experienced Oneness… don’t know what that’s all about, read my blog…) – I first had to get over this fear.

    You’ve also got me thinking about being ‘first’. When I started my blog, I couldn’t really find anyone else saying what I was saying and I thought that meant that maybe nobody wanted to HEAR what I had to say. (Who is this crazy woman – what does she mean food has energetic vibrations. Huh?)

    Now I see, via your post, that I can turn this to my advantage and stand up proud and say this is what I see.

    Even if many people don’t yet.

    So thank you!
    Much joy,
    KL

  23. @Mike – Oh yeah, I have a real problem, not quite addiction, I keep buying too many books, many more than I have time to read :)

    @Alexander – And it is a continual process of tweakage :)

    @Kara-Leah – Kundalini Awakening? – cool! Must have been a huge experience but cool. I have spoken to people who have had spiritual experiences, as yet I am still struggling to get anywhere with that stuff. Baby steps I guess. Being first can be frightening, but somebody has to lead, eh? :)

  24. @Mike – Oh yeah, I have a real problem, not quite addiction, I keep buying too many books, many more than I have time to read :)

    @Alexander – And it is a continual process of tweakage :)

    @Kara-Leah – Kundalini Awakening? – cool! Must have been a huge experience but cool. I have spoken to people who have had spiritual experiences, as yet I am still struggling to get anywhere with that stuff. Baby steps I guess. Being first can be frightening, but somebody has to lead, eh? :)

  25. Hey Chris,

    It was a huge experience, but it shifted everything I had read about spirituality dramatically in my experience.

    Suddenly I realised it wasn’t all intellectual, and I perceived that which truly is.

    Better Blog Branding has turned into such an awesome series. From my perspective, a cohesive solid brand can reflect a cohesive, solid sense of Self. We are who we are, and the brand of our blog just mirrors that.

    But paradoxically, we can also shape our brand blog and in doing so focus more specific aspects of who we are…

    One works from the inside out.

    The other from the outside in.

    Each equally valid – a dose of both often working best!

    Much joy,
    KL

  26. Hey Chris,

    It was a huge experience, but it shifted everything I had read about spirituality dramatically in my experience.

    Suddenly I realised it wasn’t all intellectual, and I perceived that which truly is.

    Better Blog Branding has turned into such an awesome series. From my perspective, a cohesive solid brand can reflect a cohesive, solid sense of Self. We are who we are, and the brand of our blog just mirrors that.

    But paradoxically, we can also shape our brand blog and in doing so focus more specific aspects of who we are…

    One works from the inside out.

    The other from the outside in.

    Each equally valid – a dose of both often working best!

    Much joy,
    KL

  27. Indeed, in life and in business we first have to embrace who we are :)

  28. Indeed, in life and in business we first have to embrace who we are :)

  29. It’s called Top Of Mind Awareness…. and it functions like a ladder…. most people only remember the first three “rungs” and the rest are forgotten.

    When Head and Shoulders was introduced, there was no “ladder” for dandruff shampoo. They created their own TOMA category and then dominated it.

    You’ve done the same with “authority blogging”. Great job!

  30. It’s called Top Of Mind Awareness…. and it functions like a ladder…. most people only remember the first three “rungs” and the rest are forgotten.

    When Head and Shoulders was introduced, there was no “ladder” for dandruff shampoo. They created their own TOMA category and then dominated it.

    You’ve done the same with “authority blogging”. Great job!

  31. excellent article – thanks – it was helpful to read at a relevant time for me.

    i hear some Al Ries – 22 Immutable Laws of Branding influence – yes, no?

    cheers,

    chris614

  32. excellent article – thanks – it was helpful to read at a relevant time for me.

    i hear some Al Ries – 22 Immutable Laws of Branding influence – yes, no?

    cheers,

    chris614