First a confession. I have been meaning to read We Are All Weird by Seth Godin for a few months now. It has been sitting in my queue for a while, right next to the Jonathan Fields book everyone’s been talking about that’s all about turning fear into brilliance or something really useful like that. So there’s a little sneak peek into some insightful reading I might be sharing soon – that is, if I can stop reading The Magicians by Lev Grossman. Talking fantasyland creatures and young adult angst, hooray!
Sometimes the fiction just won’t let you go. You scroll down your titles to read something really topical by a non-traditional marketing guru like Seth Godin, and you almost click it, and then ack! You click Game of Thrones instead. Talking ravens, hooray! ‘Cause I’m a weirdo, right? Turns out Seth Godin thinks I am, too. Apparently it’s the way of the world now.
We Are All Weird.
So how did I finally decide to read We Are All Weird first? Um, the cover art. It’s this gnome-like bearded guy in a pointy hat. In fact, I got all excited to dig through my prop drawer (see, weird) to find the perfect accessory for my own weird picture. I always wanted an excuse to wear those kooky eyes glasses! Weird’s also a quick read, a manifesto really, so you have more time to dig through your prop drawer (or start a prop drawer! hooray!)
But honestly, I had only gotten like a couple chapters in and I already started being obnoxious by telling everyone about this idea of the weird!
In a nutshell, Godin’s point, which is as pointy as the fantastically freaky hat on his book’s cover, is that mass appeal is just not cutting the mustard anymore. In fact, the full title of his book is We Are All Weird The Myth of Mass and The End of Compliance. It sounds pretty hard core. And I wouldn’t say that I’ve been driving in my car with a megaphone shouting out “it’s the end of mass media! mass reach! mass messaging! the era of Mad Men is over!” But I have been getting slightly more obnoxious in client meetings about it lately, but we’ll call it “experty” vs. “obnoxious.
What’s Your Buffalo On The Table?
For example if you’re a local independent grocer that sells fair-trade goods, organic food, spices, tea, and all sorts of stuff you can’t get at the big box store that’s great. But if you’re also the only store around supporting dozens of local farmers and have the most amazing seasonal local produce and buffalo fillets from a pasture just a country drive away? Then forget talking about the organic, the fair trade, the tea and the reclaimed and refurbished kitchen sink. Lead with true local. Lead with that buffalo on the freaking table!
People who love eating that special buffalo, who love to buy an “ugly pear” that isn’t picked for beauty but for taste, who love that their food is from farmers down the road – those people are intentional. They have preference. Make them feel special for being weird, and they will be your raving fans. But beware, weird changes into normal. And organic, well that’s just become normal in a pretty package.
Okay, I may have almost jumped up on the client’s table with a megaphone at this point (and we’ll be sharing more about this buffalo-lovin’ client of ours down the road) but what you can take away from this, is that if you’re trying to be everything to everyone it’s just not going to help you stand out at all. Whether you’re trying to define your personal brand, your startup business vision, or if you’re a more established business who’s become too normal (i.e. dull).
Wear That Dang Pointy Hat. (Cause It Matches The Kooky Glasses So Well.)
Not being dull is a duh. You know this. But it’s so easy to lose sight of your, well, your pointy point. So go pull out your weirdo glasses, read Mr. Godin’s manifesto, and resharpen that point of yours is one way to rediscover your weirdness.
This may sound like another duh. But make a list. The ten weirdest things about you or your business. If you’re the kind of artistpreneur or small business startup we usually hang out with (because you’re our weird peeps) this may not be too hard. But you might be surprised. We are so programmed to “sell” ourselves as normal, that you might have to really force yourself to write down the real stuff. Which also happens to be the stuff your dream customer or reader loves (remember, not what all your customers or readers love) what your weird peeps love.
Gee, That Internet Sure Is A Swell Invention!
And chin up weird person, you don’t have to present this picture of glossy perfection, and you don’t have to do it the old fashioned way either, in fact, as Godin reassures us (to some people this is scary, but to us it is reassuring as a warm fuzzy blanket) “it's easier than ever to reach particular pockets of weird people with stuff they're obsessed with."
What makes your passion, your personal brand or your small business most weird? If it helps you wrap your brain around it you could replace “weird” with “special” but that’s (yawn) not the point!