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How can you ensure that people remember your company? How can you prevent your products and innovations from spiraling into a black hole? What can you do to be the 1 out of 10 businesses that become successful?
These are all tough questions with no easily discernible answer. However, we can learn a lot from Einstein and how he joined the immortal ranks of Aristotle, Galileo, and Isaac Newton.
Einstein was a genius. Some claim he was one of the smartest people who have ever lived. But his intelligence did not make him an international celebrity. For example, can you tell me a different physicist who won the Nobel prize?
Einstein was also innovative. He created the micro and macro description of the world (quantum physics and relativity respectively). But his innovation in science did not make people know his name. For example, can you tell me who created Penicillin or the Polio vaccination?
So then, what makes Einstein different? Why does everyone know about Einstein and E=mc2? Is it possible for your company to stand out like Einstein?
Smash Your Company
Let me take you back to the early 1900s. A Coca-Cola executive approached a designer and asked him to create a glass bottle that would be easily identified as a Coca-Cola bottle — even if you smashed the bottle into 100 pieces. This idea went down in history as the “Smash Your Brand” test.
Now, lets apply this to Einstein. Can you smash Einstein into 100 pieces and identify him as Einstein? What if I were to show you a picture of wild crazy gray hair that is standing on edge? I’m willing to bet you would be reminded of Einstein.
From a physics perspective, Einstein’s work is obviously Einstein’s work. Scientists can identify Einstein’s ideas just by looking at the scope of the ideas. This is similar to how many people can identify Van Gogh’s art just by looking at it.
Whatever business you are in you need to make sure you can smash it. You need to make sure people will recognize what you do by focusing on seemingly insignificant details like your hair style. Or, in Chris Pearson’s case, a nifty options panel for a wordpress theme.
Differentiate Your Company
What happens when you want to break into an elitist genre of old dogs and proclaimed experts? You will battle resistance, but it isn’t impossible to overcome it.
When Einstein started out in his career, he consistently encountered resistance. As Walter Isaacson pointed out in “Einstein,” Einstein was unable to get a job in academia or admitted into a doctoral program. However, it didn’t stop him. He worked on his theories while he worked at a patent office and his dedication and uniqueness paid off.
Now if his theories were similar to what was being discussed in academia, he would have probably stayed in that patent office for the rest of his life. After all, who would notice a no-name unqualified scientist in some silly patent office?
So, if you are thinking about starting a blog about blogging, think again. It’s been done and Darren Rowse already owns it. However, if you plan to add a unique spin or twist to the genre, do it to your heart’s content. Michael Martine of Remarkablogger is doing this perfectly. He’s not as big as Darren, but he offers much easier and practical advice than other blogs.
Or, if you’re looking to break into a a snobbish niche with snobbish followers, you should take a look at what Gary Vaynerchuk did to the wine industry. He focused on describing wine to regular people. He would say things like, “this wine has some of that raspberry slim jim action going on” instead of “esters,” “vintage,” and other words I can’t define. Oh, and he last I heard, Gary did over $50 million in sales.
The Success Factors Prescription
You have been introduced to the Success Factors Spotlight in “Why You Should Put All Your Eggs in One Basket.” Now you can see the “Success Factors Prescription,” which is where you can learn how to implement what we talked about into your company.
So, how do you differentiate your company? How can you help your company stand out?
- Make People Feel Great: Many companies claim that their customers are their biggest asset. However, when we call Bank of America’s help line, it takes us more than 30 minutes to talk to a representative. So, make sure you say what you mean and focus on making people feel great. Maybe you should give them a restaurant mint?
- Same Niche, Different Angle: You don’t need to come up with a unique idea. You need to find an idea and improve it slightly. For example, Facebook crushed Myspace by targeting college students. They made a slight change and emphasized it. So, if you enter a crowded niche, make sure you make your differences your main marketing tactics.
- Keep Moving Forward: Einstein’s famous quote “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving” applies to business. If you want to maintain or develop your competitive advantage, you need to continuosly improve upon what you have. If you don’t, you’re likely to fall over and crash into the concrete.
- Do Something Quirky: In college I remember a kid we called shades. Nobody knew him, but he always wore sunglasses and a vest 365 days a year. I still remember him to this day because of his quirkiness and I realized you can do this in business. For example, one of Sam Walton’s store managers created the largest display of laundry detergent. It garnered a ton of attention and sales.
- Be Trustworthy: We live in a world where different is no longer different. We have thousands of products and companies to choose from. So, if you want to stand out, make sure you are the most trustworthy person on earth. Don’t do anything you would be ashamed of and people will respect you for it.
What Did I Miss?
Do you have anything to add to this list? Do you have any other great ways to differentiate yourself in the marketplace? Why don’t you write a follow-up blog post or leave a comment?