Let’s start by saying you’re not alone. We all have or will struggle to understand how to differentiate ourselves in these immensely saturated markets. Even when you’re nestled into your niche, like the music industry, there are still 100,000 other people shouting the same shit to your potential customers or fans and eating your lunch.
So, you struggle to figure out how you’re different. How you can break through the noise and have people listen to what it is that you have to say? Here’s the thing; you’re not saying anything in the first place, and if you are, you’re not patient enough to notice if anyone is even giving a shit.
That sounds harsh, but doing the opposite will answer this differentiation question once and for all.
I want to break this down further because this is a lesson I’ve learned and continue to learn as I put out more content. Even though the amount of content I’m putting out is limited, at least I’m saying something and being patient to get the results.
This comes down to 3 things, and it’s easier than you think.
1. Find your point of difference (your voice)
I often get asked where to start and it’s such a vague question. “How do I know what to put out there to get noticed, and how do I show ‘them’ I’m different?”
Fair question, but let me ask you this; when you go to a party, do you stop before you enter the front door and ask “how will anyone in here know how I’m different? How will I even talk to anyone or hold a conversation if I don’t have a clear position in the room?” you might already start to see where I’m taking this.
You’re trying too hard to be different.
I’ll give you a tidbit of info here that’s often overlooked when people ask, “how do I differentiate myself?”. Let’s start with that last word, “myself”. You’re unique, no? Guess what, no one else is you, therefore by default you’re already different. So, what you’re really asking is, “how do I become someone else?”
Look, if you’re even half-decent at what you do then you probably a) have knowledge to share, and b) have an opinion about the industry. Most people in the music industry do, the rest is just up to you being you. If Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson started walking and talking like Arnold Schwarzenegger, you’d notice. But they both have winning formulas because they are unique, and they don’t act like anyone else.
I get it, though. The music industry, especially today, is full of artists who look and even sound the same. To be honest I can’t tell the difference between Smokepurpp and Lil Yachty’s music. If you don’t know who they are, listen to their music and you’ll understand what I mean.
In the end, the only people who manage to make an actual impact and have a sustainable career are the ones who do something truly authentic. Perfect example; Michael Jackson.
Get the point?
2. Put one foot in front of the other
Now that you’ve discovered yourself and you’re more confident than ever, you’re going to ask more questions; “what do I do next? How do I put out content or post my new found self-awareness?”
That part isn’t very complicated either, but it’s hard when you have nothing to base it off of. It’s like asking how to paint a beautiful portrait without ever having used a paintbrush. Sometimes you have to make shit to find out where to improve. And with that, I suggest you just try.
Some of the best lesson’s I’ve ever learned on my now 12-year journey of on and off entrepreneurship, is that the best way to learn, and more importantly get good at something, is to just do it. Don’t ask too many questions, don’t over analyze, just pick up the tool and go.
Like anything else there’s always an element of trial and error and somewhat of a creative process. But that process has to be established, then further defined as you progress. It’s an evolution towards greatness, and it never really end. The further you get, the more people will recognize you for you, and you’ll eventually become memorable.
To accomplish this, you literally need your fingers, a camera, and the ideas that are in your noggin. Press record, post, next.
If you couple tenacity with authenticity, you’ll become vastly different than 100% of the population.
3. Go where the attention is
This is awesome! You’ve managed to finally differentiate yourself and you’re gaining some much-needed confidence. Things are starting to gain momentum and the process is actually starting to become exciting. You wondered why you ever hesitated in the first place.
But wait, more questions!?
“Why are things slowing down?”, “Why am I not growing at the same rate?”
I read a quote a while ago (I don’t remember where it came from) that read; “If you’re not measuring, you’re guessing”, and this is true if you’re looking to effectively differente yourself. You need to leverage what’s happening in the real world and get outside of you own head.
Sometimes the real world slaps you in the face with harsh results, but it’s better than running a race in the wrong direction and wondering why you’re not winning.
The concept is simple; if what you’re doing is unique, people will gravitate towards it. Provided there’s actually an audience for it. If you’re making content on how to play the flute under water, it’s not really something people are looking to accomplish… That was a random example, I know.
Anyways, if people are gravitating towards it on digital platforms, you’ll have valuable data points to measure. There should be evidence as to where the attention is coming from. This is where you need to put your efforts – where the attention is, based on the data. This is leverage to further differentiate yourself and own that segment.
If it’s working, the proof is in the numbers.
Tip: stop trying to go viral and hack the system, it’s not a sustainable method of growth. Build a foundation of true fans that will actually support your journey as an artist or business. People actually love brands, but only when they connect authentically with their beliefs.
After all, it really comes down to consistency. The ability to continue dedicating yourself to putting yourself out there and getting creative. Be persistent but be aware of what works and what doesn’t.
It takes guts to put yourself out there, especially with all the keyboard warriors and internet trolls. But the alternative is to stay exactly where you are while the people who are willing to take the opinions of trolls with a grain of salt and move forward anyways gain differentiated value in the market.
After all, whether you’re a musician or a business owner, you’re already exposing your ideas to the world and allowing everyone to judge you on your thought processes. So why aren’t you backing up your big idea with content that allows you to differentiate yourself?
If you have a product, service, or creative output, the likelihood that it alone will be the deciding factor for success is pretty low. We all have an opportunity to leverage digital media to truly be ourselves, and by doing so we are authentically different.
Your biggest problem isn’t that you’re not different, it’s that you overthink and fail to act. Stop thinking, start doing.
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