We are living in a very different world than we were a few years ago. We are now inundated with so much content and advertising, across so many media streams, that we’ve started to become resistant. We are opting out of email newsletters, unsubscribing to magazines and newspapers, unfollowing on Twitter, de-friending on Facebook, and putting emails in a spam folder. Name brands, such as Lady Gaga and Coca Cola will be sought out by fans and their messages will continue to spread, since they are differentiated, have high brand equity, and an extremely large foundation of fans.Lady Gaga has over nine million Facebook fans, while Coca Cola has almost six million Facebook fans.
For the average person or company, it has become much more challenging to cultivate a fan base and become well-known, despite the global population of social network users, and the amount of communities one can join. It is true that if you started building your online identity years ago, and kept with it, then you have a major competitive advantage now because people already know who you are, what you do, and are familiar with your logo or your face.
Noise is hurting our ears and our eyes
If you’re reading this, then I bet you’re following thousands of people on Twitter, you skim a hundred blog posts per day or week, and you watch twenty advertisements per day, sometimes without even noticing. We aren’t built to intake the amount of information provided to us, and with the sheer volume, that is increasing by second, we’re becoming smarter about what we read and what we ignore.
These statistics show how much time we use, and possibly waste, in the online world:
- 90 trillion emails sent on the internet in 2009 (Hubspot)
- 500 billion minutes per month people spend on Facebook (Facebook)
- 14.6 billion YouTube videos watched in May (comScore).
- 2 billion tweets per month on Twitter (Mashable).
- 200 million blog posts have been published on WordPress.com blogs (Mashable).
We are starting to build a strong resistance against companies and people that we’ve never heard before. We are also questioning blog authors, social network users, and other online personalities that don’t already have social proof and influence. Trust, credibility, history (how long you’ve been around) and a strong relationship (if you’ve previously interacted with a brand and enjoyed the experience), are now the most important factors when someone decides to read your content or do business with you.
You can build an online business for a very low cost because there are no real barriers to entry. All you need is a host, a domain name, some HTML skills, and a creative idea. The real cost is your time, or so it might appear. The benefit to having no barriers to entry is that talented people, who aren’t millionaires, can be successful online (and can potentially become millionaires). It gives everyone a chance to make a difference, whether they succeed or fail. The negative aspect of having no barriers to entry is that EVERYONE becomes your competitor, whether they are in the same industry as you or not. People are fighting for attention, and attention is harder to obtain than ever before.
The changing competitive landscape
- Two years ago, it was safe to say that you didn’t need money to break through the noise, establish your brand, and turn your passion into a business.
- Today, we’re living in a very different environment and the rules are starting to change fast.
How to lower resistance in the most competitive market in history
You aren’t going to be able to compete by publishing two posts in a week anymore. That simply doesn’t cut it in a world where there are million of status messages and posts being published every second. So, how on earth do you stand out?
- Become a talent scout. You can’t scale yourself or your time, therefore, it’s a wise idea that you find other people that share the same passion as you. By pairing with others that are looking for a platform to share their voice, you can expand, grow, and break through the noise. Conduct a search through Google blog search, Technorati.com, Twellow.com, and other search engines in order to find people that you can partner with in some fashion.
- Invest money in web design. I would never recommend that someone starts a WordPress.com, Typepad.com, Blogger.com or any other blog that you don’t completely own. I advised people to use these services years ago, but now it’s a major disadvantage if you do. You can’t completely customize any of these services. The day’s of just having a place to store content are over. You need to step up your game! By investing in a custom design for your site, including a logo, you have a shot at breaking through the resistance. Otherwise, you are still just another blogger. People trust others that invest money in their brands.
- Hire a personal branding expert. It’s extremely valuable to have a third party help you in your branding endeavors, especially for those with no marketing backgrounds. I’m being really bias here, but you should really considering paying for online branding support. People, such as myself (and my company Millennial Branding, LLC) know how to analyze your current situation, help you figure out what makes you special, then position you in your market, and finally provide you with marketing support to increase your visibility.
- One-to-one relationships instead of one-to-many. Just like a job seeker shouldn’t blindly apply to one hundred job openings for the sake of it, you shouldn’t go spam everyone and add to the noise. Instead, become as specific as you can with who your audience is and work as hard as you can to form relationships with influencers in that market. This way, you save time, energy, and will achieve greater results in less time.
- Long-term instead of short-term thinking: A brand isn’t built overnight. As I stated before, you want to find a topic that you can write about for years, instead of months. This way, people knows that you’re serious and will potentially commit to reading your work. It takes a long time for people to recognize you as a serious online participant.
- Get an industry influencer to sponsor you. What we’re going to see more of over the years is brand association, partnerships, and sponsorships. New bloggers are going to be seeking mentorship and promotional support from the veterans in different markets. This way, people that aren’t well-known can become well-known faster, and have a shot of breaking through the resistance.
- Become more exclusive. When you create scarcity, you create demand. If you can prove the value of what you have to offer, then you can charge for it. For instance, I read an article about how someone created a premium network for chefs. Chefs are hard to reach, so the value of the network is worth people paying for it. If you can find a niche that’s hard to target, such as college students, then this exclusivity actually breaks through the noise because people will seek you out.
Brand matters more than ever
Branding will always become more important because a brand creates a sense of trust, loyalty, and overall experience that’s hard to replicate. Those who are already established in their fields will become even more successful over the coming years because it’s easier to build upon a foundation, rather than from scratch. Those who aren’t established will need to become established using the above seven strategies I’m offering.
Brands have leverage, control, and prestige. They lower resistance by providing evidence of previous successes, and a commitment to maintaining quality and service.
What are your recommendations for standing out and lowering resistance?