Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Standing Out In The Crowd

Differentiation holds a lot of importance in the business world. What sets you apart from the pack is often what gets the attention of others. That differentiation should also be a strength of yours - one that is not easily duplicated by the competition, and thus can be used as an advantage. The same holds true for the individual as a job applicant, salesperson, and any other situation relying on a personal brand image.

I was thinking of this issue today and was reminded of an experience with a salesman of sorts which I will never forget. Several years ago (most likely before I even took to marketing as a career path) I was at a Cincinnati Reds baseball game with my family. We were enjoying the game, when along comes one of the beer vendors. He marched up and down the aisles like the rest of them. But, instead of just shouting out what he was selling to the fans, he came up with a clever way of differentiating himself...he sang.

While the rest of the vendors just faded into the background and became nothing more than a small addition to the noise and atmosphere, this guy was impossible to ignore. He stood at the foot of the aisle, and looking up at everyone with a beer in each hand he belted out popular songs which he changed slightly to include the fact that he was selling beer. I wish I could remember them all today, perhaps my dad will if I ask him. But, one was to Rod Stewart's "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?" He sang, "If you want my body, and ya think I'm sexy, come on baby buy a beer!!"

It went on like this for the entire game. A different tune each time. Because people noticed him, and were enjoying the show he was putting on, they bought beer. Most people probably wanted a beer anyway. But, they weren't buying from the other guys as much. I heard a woman behind me mentioning to her friend that she wanted a beer just as a vendor was about to pass by the row. She wanted to wait for the singing guy though. He was fun.

Fifteen minutes or so passed, and he showed up again singing another song as loud as he could while dancing around. I looked around and saw more hands go up in the air with cash in them than I had when any other vendor came through. It took him another fifteen minutes or more just to serve everybody! The woman behind me bought two. This guy was taking sales away from the other vendors and also creating a desire for his product just by being creative and fun. It didn't matter that he was a beer vendor at the baseball stadium. He was a salesman and he made sales. He probably got some tips too.

I never had an experience like this one at a stadium ever again. I never saw that vendor again. But, I'm pretty confident that his willingness to think outside of the box and make himself a success no matter what he was doing took him places in life. And, I use this experience for inspiration in branding myself.