Business is a copycat game.
When something works even moderate well for one business ten more follow the leader.
It happens all the time in the NFL. If one franchise has success the rest of the league pays attention and tries to copy it. Say that the franchise hired the youngest coach in the history of the league and the next year made the playoffs. Two-thirds of the league the next year will hire young coaches.
What does this mean for you?
Certainly you want to pay attention to what everybody else is doing. If something is working you want to figure out why.
But you also want to be the leader on the unseen things. You want to find the creative ways to get ahead.
Here are some things that your competition probably isn’t doing that could set you apart.
1. Influencer Marketing
The first time I really realized the power of influencer marketing was when a friend joined a new startup. They were in the fashion industry. They reached out to fashion influencers on social media and looked for ways to work together.
- Free products
- Paid promotions
- Guest content
They tried all kinds of stuff and over time it really worked and grew their business. They’ve come to just about perfect the concept of influencer marketing and they’re still improving. They’re way ahead of the game it seems in the era of social media and fashion. At least in terms of startups and starting with nothing. They’re not a big name fashion brand.
If you’re looking to grow you need to go where the attention is. Influencers have the attention. Some want money. Some just want free product. Connect. Find ways to work together. Let them do their thing.
2. Podcast Guesting
Podcasting is really taking off. From 8% of Americans to 17% in the last decade. And there is a lot of room for growth. And it will grow. A big reason? People can listen to something and do something else. You can’t do that with video and text.
Identify the top 100 podcasts in your industry. Listen to episodes. Learn what they’re about. Then make your pitch to be a guest. You’ll probably hear back from 3-5.
But that’s not bad.
Go on those. Be yourself. Give them everything they want. Then use each successful episode to pitch yourself to the others again.
3. Charity Sponsorships
I had another friend whose dad owned a local business. He was looking to grow, but he was also looking to give back to the community that had given him so much.
So he started partnering with charities. He owned a restaurant. He started letting charities host events there for cheap or even for free.
The result was that money was raised for charities, but more people also discovered his business. Even folks that had lived in the community.
Business grew over time.
That’s a win-win.
4. Social Media Blitz (Nonstop Engagement)
Sometimes it’s amazing how simple things are.
Want success on social media?
All it really takes is being social.
I know that sounds dumb, but it’s the truth.
When you share a piece of content on social media what are you looking for? Comments, likes and reshares?
That’s what everyone is looking for.
Knowing that…go out to social media and starting engaging. Comment on the posts of others. Respond. Like. Reshare.
Give, give and give some more.
Really look to add to the conversation. Make people feel really good about the content that they’re sharing.
This takes more work than you think, but so many don’t do it. Especially businesses. 99% of businesses just promote themselves (Check our our sales page…ugh).
Commit to doing this everyday. Start with about 100 engagements a day. Do it from your phone at night before you fall asleep or first thing when you wake up.
5. Podcast Hosting
You’ll have to jump on this one quick because as we saw earlier it’s really picking up speed. But there is still big opportunity in audio. More people are listening to podcasts.
Think about this…you’re driving to work. You don’t watch music videos. You listen to the radio. You don’t watch business videos. You listen to business podcasts.
You’re going for a run. You’re not watching. You’re listening.
There are no tricks. Just start recording and publishing. Start by answering the questions your target audience is asking. It’s a basic, but effective strategy.
6. Big Content
Search for a general term that’s big for your industry. You sell web design services. Let’s search for “landing pages“.
Once you scroll past the ads (like most people do) you see things like:
- Landing page examples
- What is a landing page?
- Landing pages 101
- Landing page guide
All types of big content.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to create the biggest and best piece of content on this topic. Both in answers to all the questions and in design.
Do that and you will rank well for this important term.
7. Branded Content
Branded Content is where I think all content is going. Brands make money, but they need attention. Content has the attention.
You can do this by tried and true content marketing. Creating content that your audience is interested in. That doesn’t mean sales content. Nobody is paying attention when you share your homepage or services page on social media.
But if you share entertaining videos or educational blog posts you’re giving your audience something they want.
This isn’t new, but it’s still underutilized.
If you don’t want to create the content then look for a partner or for an influencer you can use as a sponsor.
Listen to any popular podcast and you’ll often hear sponsors like Blue Apron, SquareSpace and others. They’re not creating the content, but they’re paying for the attention.
It’s branded content or content “brought to you by…”.
8. Local Event Sponsorship (Give your time, product, service)
This one is similar to the charity example above. But it’s a big one that’s overlooked in the local markets. Maybe your city has an initiative to raise money for a new park. Every business in town will be hit up.
Let’s say you’re a design firm. Offer your free services to the cause. Then go to all the events and mingle with all the business leaders in attendance.
9. Local Media Guesting (Helpful Content, not sales content)
I see this one from time to time when I catch the local news.
A local yoga instructor goes on every week for a health segment. They share tips on yoga poses, healthy eating and a lot more.
Huge exposure in our area. Great content for the news station.
Another person from the human society in town goes on once a week to showcase a dog or cat. Great exposure.
Businesses of all kinds can do this.
10. Partnerships, Collaborations
Rappers and pop artists have really gone big in this area over the last 10-15 years. Probably even longer. I’m a country music fan and I’m kind of surprised we haven’t seen more of it in that genre.
Anyway, it’s about collaborating with other artists to create a killer song. You combine the audiences and help each other reach new levels of popularity.
It’s just like podcast guesting. You go where the people are and get their attention.
Charlie Puth. He pretty much entered a contest and won the opportunity to write and sing the chorus of the biggest song of 2015.
But it’s not just music. This works in all areas of business. A small business consultant partnering on a video series with a larger consultancy.
Some of these might be familiar. Others may be brand new. The reality is that they’re all very underutilized. They’re underutilized even though they work. Most take quite a bit of effort, but that is an opportunity. If you’re looking for an opportunity in your field then this is a great list to start with.