A few months ago I was at a Seattle Mariners game, in Seattle. I was visiting a friend who was getting married that weekend and we were meeting at the Silver Cloud Inn before the game (a hotel directly across from the stadium). The usual ticket scalpers were lining the stadium walls – either asking for tickets or holding them in their hands to show they indeed had tickets available if you didn’t have one.
There must have been at least 25-30 ticket scalpers. Imagine the competition. Before we left, I ran upstairs to grab my jacket and as I waited for the elevator a man rushed passed me into the business center located just a few steps away from the elevators and the main entrance to the hotel. Curious, I followed the man into the business center and sat down to fake a little “online lookup.”
I noticed this man had pulled up Craigslist and started to create an ad. Sitting next to him, a pair of Seattle Mariners baseball tickets.
The point of this story? In business, often times we do the same things our competitors are doing, we use the same resources, at the same time, in the same place. One by one we all line up next to each other for potential customers to determine what makes each one of us different or who has the kindest smile (best logo) and looks the friendliest (cheeky marketing speak).
It’s important to recognize that we can still use the same resources and advertise using the same channels, after all that is where are customers are. But it doesn’t mean we can’t look at how to market ourselves and our message differently than the rest.
In this case, it seems obvious that you could sell the tickets on Craigslist to folks who are planning to attend the game but can’t find tickets (days, or even weeks before the game). It also seems obvious that you would stand right in front of the stadium because customers know they will be able to purchase tickets from…a ticket scalper. But, this man changed the game a bit – he used the same resource at a different time and utilized the resources around him. Whether he sold the tickets or not, he was still utilizing the resources that were available to him – and at no cost to him. Craigslist = Free. Hotel Business Center = Free.
1. There are plenty of free Social Media tools out there like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and YouTube. If every one of your competitors has access to the same tools and resources you do, how are you differentiating yourself? How can you utilize those tools differently – be it seasonal, deviating from a normal process, or other? Think strategy.
2. If you have created a Facebook page or Twitter account for your business are you just running with the herd? Have you just jumped on the bandwagon because every one else has? How can you use these resources and other resources outside of these to actually improve your bottom line? Avoid the “me too” scenario or seek help from an outside consultant to introduce ideas on how to use these tools to your advantage.
3. Don’t forget the resources/tools that have worked in the past or the ones you haven’t really fine tuned that are working. Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.
4. Don’t be so quick to jump on the next shiny object that sparkles. Make sure you have a clear understanding and strategy in place before investing the time and labor costs associated with the upkeep, management, and maintenance.