Photo credit: nickwheeleroz / / CC BY-NC-SA About a year ago, I was at an AMA lunch with a few folks from Engauge. Like any luncheon, I had the opportunity to meet a lot of other marketing folks here in the Atlanta area. Unfortunately, I don't remember names well and couldn't tell you the name of the person who asked me the following question. However, despite how short our conversation probably was, I do vividly remember him starting out our conversation - not by asking me what clients I worked with or who I worked for - but asking me

What are you doing that's different?

I had never been asked that question. More importantly, I wasn't sure how to answer that question. Sure, I was working on ______ campaign on Facebook at that time or trying to grow ______'s digital presence....but who in the room wasn't? Fortunately I was still kind of riding a Board of Man wave and could pull that out as conversation filler until they called us in to eat.

If I had been a bit quicker on my feet, I'm sure I could've pulled a client example into the conversation that was different. We were doing some cool never-been-done-before types of thinking while I was there. The answer to that had just left me at the time.

Don't Be A "Me Too"

On the same note, a couple of days ago I was hanging out with a friend at the Nook and we were talking about innovation and creating companies. The conversation spawned from watching drink orders come through the bar. We saw the Nook's famous bloody mary with the overload of garnishes (steak, bacon, toast, egg, and a meat straw plus others). We noticed how the Nook was just a bar but they did have crazy concoctions for drinks, whether it be the bloody mary or their fishbowl-sized margaritas.

There was a business lesson in that. My buddy said he never wanted to be a "me too." He wanted to do his own thing - or at least have something very distinct about whatever he was working on. Something unique.

Trendsetting versus Following

Some trends get popular because they're a good idea. They present a way of doing things that is more efficient, more effective or easier for everyone to scale. Then there are trends that are popular because they're popular. Companies want to jump on those trends because "everyone else is doing it" instead of asking the root question: "why should we do _____ or build _______?"

Brand differentiation should go beyond what color your logo is. There should be something about your product or service that stands out. What is that one thing that you do differently? That one unique mark about what you do that people would rather pay you for than someone else?

How would you answer?

If someone asked you "what are you doing that's different?" would you answer them?

Would you be able to?