The connection value of being unusual

When you are unusual, you have to work harder to connect. That’s why building a captive audience takes hard work, time, and patience. You can do something amazing and connect, temporarily, with people who follow trends, but if you’re looking for long-term business health, you need the other people, the ones who jump less, the people who value your difference.

When you are unusual, you have to show people how and why you are relevant. You have to illustrate your credibility by exhibiting integrity. You have to be visible and valuable.

The cool thing is, when you are unusual, you inherently stand out. You have a head start. To succeed, you have to start from that position and articulate your difference to those most likely to notice. The trick is in keeping your focus along the way. It’s the trick because keeping your focus while trying to appeal to a large audience is incredibly hard work.

What often happens is the unusual aspects of a brand succumb to desire for quicker sales, losing focus. The result is a watered down version of the original, a more usual iteration with less appeal.

This is why big business can outperform small business. Big business has the resources to endure slower sales when necessary (though they never like it). Small business, on the other hand, may fold if sales are slow.

People often think not standing out for their difference is safer, but the reality is the opposite.

When we’re talking about business, being more vanilla—more usual—is more dangerous. True, vanilla has broad appeal, but it also has far more competition, which means it’s much harder and more expensive to build a new brand that can compete. It’s also difficult to command a premium price.

Being unusual, you have less competition and greater ability to command a premium price. Sure, it’s riskier, but if you keep your focus, being unusual has far greater long-term prospects for setting trends and succeeding by connecting with people who value your difference.

Kelly Hobkirk - teaching marketers how to harness strategy, goals, reality, and purpose to connect and do better work.


Kelly Hobkirk has been helping companies succeed in creative ways for nearly 25 years. His work has been featured in Time Magazine, and books by Rockport and Rotovision. Get exclusive articles when you sign up for his monthly newsletter.

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