For the last few years, my wife and I and a few of our friends have attended a Fall party at Denver’s flagship REI store called Pray For Snow. Think retro 80s party where everyone is ushering in the winter with enthusiasm and brightly colored ski outfits. All of the major outdoor brands hand out free gear and our hopes each year are to win one of the snowboard or ski packages in the raffle.
We have attended 4 years in a row and I’m still waiting for my number to be called. One year I did get called onto the stage — not as a raffle winner but for another reason: my outfit.
In addition to the raffles and free gear, Pray for Snow also puts on a combined fashion show dance contest to determine the “best-dressed.” Twenty people are chosen to go on stage in front of a few thousand people and dance for an awesome prize.
That night, I was approached by a staff member who said, “You look so terrible, it’s great! Want to be in the dance contest?”
I enthusiastically (and reluctantly) said “yes” because I couldn’t remember the last time I danced in front of 2,000 strangers in brightly colored ski gear.
A few minutes later I stood on the side stage watching the other contestants give their best dance moves in efforts to win the prize. I remember thinking, How will I show people I deserve the grand prize? How will I separate myself from the guy in the banana suit or the people doing the worm in the neon-colored ski onesies? How will I stand out?
With all these questions racing through my mind, you know what I didn’t consider doing? Copying the other contestants.
When you are trying to grow a business, you are in a similar position. You’re probably not on an actual stage, although someday you probably will be, you are positioned in front of people while other businesses surround you. Your goal? To stand out.
Many times we try to copy our competition. We look at their flyers and create similar ones. We look at their products and find the same supplier. We try and replicate, but expect people to think we are different.
Along the way, you can begin to lose sight of the one thing that makes you unique.
It isn’t your product. You might have a unique product right now, but someone will create a knock-off version or come along and create something very similar.
It isn’t your price. You might be the lowest or the highest in the market, but again, that’s matchable. Someone will come along and beat your price by a few dollars or they will double your price. Your price may be unique for a moment but it won’t be for long.
What is it the one thing that makes your business unique? The one thing nobody can duplicate, underprice, or argue with? Your story.
Nobody has the same story you do.
Nobody has the years of experience you carefully and uniquely crafted together all leading up to the moment you started your business. Nobody has your specific reasons or answers for why you started your business and how you want to make an impact.
When you are on the stage looking out at the crowd and wondering how to stand out from those around you, the solution is to do what only you can do. Share what makes you unique. Share your “why” and share your story and trust that the people who align with your values and your story are the ones who will want to share your story.
When I was on the stage that day in my “so terrible it’s great” ski outfit, I went onto the icy runway (it had ironically been snowing at Pray For Snow that year), and I broke out my best moves, different from all the rest. Slipping on the ice made my moves that much more unique and memorable too.
As you look out at the crowd of people you are called to serve and you stand next to your competition as they talk about their new features, products, and prices…start with your story.
Change the narrative and share something with your audience that nobody could possibly duplicate. Start by sharing your unique story.