I recently submitted a proposal and included some examples of my work. As both a business owner and consultant, I have created website content, brochures, promotional material, bios, course workbooks, reports and blogs. When a prospective client asks for examples, I have a variety of B2B and B2C material, which I match to the current project. As I was pulling this proposal together, I debated about whether I should include a link to a client’s website. I had created most of the original content and thought it would be a great reference. As I was deciding, I reviewed the site to ensure I was sending the right message.
I am so glad I did. Because the site I wanted to reference no longer exists. Oh sure – the business is still there, and the website address is the same. The content I created is still part of the site. It was the only part that looked familiar. The rest of the experience was just – different.
Why was it different? Why is this important? If it isn’t my business, why do I care? Because the client changed my work? Because I may have chosen a different layout or added different images? Because I would never expect someone to scroll through pages and pages of words to get to vital information?
None of these reasons matter. They are merely my opinions and every business owner should do what they believe is best for their business. The reason I will no longer include it as a sample of my work is that while the words are there, the site has lost the feel I created. It no longer stands out – it blends into the landscape. The new site looks and feels like every other company in its space. And blending or “playing it safe” does not represent my brand.
When I started my own business, I looked at what my competition was doing and asked the question, how do I convince my target audience to buy from me rather than them? I had to show these people what made my business stand out from the competition. So, instead of focusing on the features of my products and services, I opted to focus on the benefits – in this case, the fun and social experience that clients enjoyed. I used colors and graphics that were different from these other businesses in my space. As a result, I appealed to an even larger group of consumers. In other words, I was an original. This strategy paid off, and the business thrived.
You are an original. So, why would you position your business – or your life – around a “me too” strategy that copies another? Sure, there’s safety in conformity, but you will be limited in what you can do as well. And who wants that?
Stand up, stand out and embrace your originality. When you’re enjoying success beyond your wildest dreams, you’ll be glad you took the risk.