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.
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.
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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.
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?
- What are your competitors doing?
- What can you do differently
- How can you demonstrate your differences?
- 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 …
Table of contents for series: Better Blog Branding
- Better Blog Branding: What’s In a Name?
- Better Blog Branding: 10 Ways To Destroy Your Brand
- Better Blog Branding: Domain Exclusivity
- Better Blog Branding: Is Your Brand Breaking Promises?
- Better Blog Branding: Crafting Your Positioning Statement
- Better Blog Branding: How to Stand Out By Being First
- Better Blog Branding: Your Blogs Hidden Messages
- Better Blog Branding: Your Successful Brand
- Blog Branding and Positioning: Changing the Rules of the Blogging Game
- Naming Your Blog: How to Create Catchy Blog Names
- What Are You Saying Between the Lines?