Just the word ‘business’ can sound serious and dull. It sounds like board rooms painted a grim shade of magnolia and long meetings and sweaty handshakes. But that’s not you. You’re a new breed of business owner: the kind who wants to shake things up. And we are 100% with you on that.
Standing out is all about enthusiasm, imagination, and finding new ways to meet old ends. Here are five off-beat ideas to give your business an edge.
1. Reach out to perfect strangers
One of the reasons people hate networking so much is that the conventional process can be stale and boring. Go to a networking event or a conference, stand around with your free glass of wine giving everyone the spiel, a bundle of business cards in your pocket. There’s endless advice out there on how to say the right thing and how to follow up effectively, but John Muscarello advocates a slightly different approach: diving in head first. He contacted people he wanted to get to know directly, via Twitter, and asked them if they wanted to get a drink and chat. He had never met them, they were perfect strangers, and yet what came out of it was a meet up with over 70 people.
By cutting to the chase and just reaching out to people with your intentions laid bare, you can bypass a whole lot of the awkward shall-I-mention-business-yet shuffle and just get straight to it. It might feel like a bold and slightly scary thing to do, but people will be impressed by your confidence and see you as someone they definitely want to know.
2. Graffiti marketing
Graffiti marketing is kind of an old school technique that has seen a revival in recent times. There have been some really effective, powerful, and fun examples, and the good news is that it’s doable on a budget, because imagination costs nothing! As long as you're not scrawling on someone else's property without permission, the world is your oyster. Very eye-catching and eco-friendly is moss graffiti. You could also use chalk to do some simple and fun ‘follow me’ messages in the vicinity of your business. The Scottish Poetry Library recently found a way to write messages on the ground that only appear when it rains. The most important thing is to be creative!
3. Show off
Apparently, when the CEO of Faber-Castell is trying to prove how tough their pencils are to prospective clients, he throws them off the top of the building. When you’re pitching your product or service, it helps to get a bit showy, in the right way. Coming up with an unusual way to demonstrate, explain, or describe the benefits of what you’re offering might surprise people, but it will be memorable. Know your audience, of course, but mostly people appreciate a sense of humour as long as it’s paired with professionalism and knowledge.
4. Put the ball in the their court
Letting customers choose their own price with a ‘pay what you like’ initiative is a risk for sure, but history has shown us that this particular variety of boldness often pays off. On the whole, when presented with the option of paying anything they want, people will go with the suggested donation anyway, but just the act of trusting them to do so will make an impression. In fact, past examples have shown that people often pay more than what is suggested, which could make up for any shameless chancers you attract.
5. Tell your story well
We’ve talked before about story-led selling, but this is more about telling your story for its own sake, as a point of interest for your customers that will generate more of a buzz around your business. Sugru has a great example of this, and it’s easy to replicate. In all likelihood, there were funny happenings and bumps in the road while you were starting your business, and presenting a characterful, entertaining narrative of that journey can really endear people to you and your brand.
The best way to be innovative with your business practices is just to look at how things are ‘normally’ done and then ask yourself “But how can I do it better for my business?” There’s a world of possibility out there if you’re willing to be creative.