Stand Out, or Step Aside

“If they ask about my biggest weakness, would nachos be an appropriate answer?”

This was the beginning of a conversation on Facebook a few weeks ago, with the question posed by a friend who is interviewing for a new position. As someone who has interviewed hundreds of people over the course of my career, this one made me pause. I responded, “in my world, that would land you the job.” I explained that when everyone says the same thing, responses tend to all run together, making it hard to distinguish one candidate from the next.

Allow me to clarify that this isn’t a blog about interview tips, or how to land a job at Kolbeco. This is a call for you to stand out, be yourself, and have the confidence to tell your own story.  For us, that means your marketing, and broadcasting an authentic, beautiful story about your brand. If you don’t, your story will run into the next, making your business unmemorable and indistinguishable from the competition.

Discover Your Story

From the day of our founding in 2000, we’ve always held a firm belief that every business has an interesting story. It’s our job to find it. Nothing is boring. There are human beings, stories of the journey, and true passion that combine to make a successful business. We talk a lot about finding your “why.” Maybe I’ll start calling it finding your “nacho.” Regardless, we’re challenging you to really think about your business.

  • Why do you love doing it?
  • What wakes you up in the morning and keeps you up at night?
  • What makes what you do different?
  • How are you impacting others?
  • How would you like to be remembered?
  • What is your nacho?

Lauren with NachosEmbrace Your Story

Your story is yours, and yours alone. Be proud of it. Wear it like a badge of honor and live it in all of your encounters. Don’t be afraid to tell others what you’re most passionate about, even if it’s contrarian or unconventional. It’s OK to flip your industry on its head and say something different, or even strive to make an impact on the world around you through your business. Think about these scenarios:

  1. Avis – We Try Harder: this car rental company didn’t have a history of being on top, and they gladly embraced their position as underdog. They didn’t try to tell someone else’s story. Instead, they loudly proclaimed “We Try Harder” in a campaign that ran for decades.
  2. Patagonia – Don’t Buy This Jacket: the outdoor gear company has a history and set of values that include environmental stewardship, protection of national parklands and monuments, as well as a strong commitment to quality. In a Black Friday ad several years ago, they bucked conventional marketing wisdom by encouraging their audience to NOT buy new this season. Recycle, repair, and keep wearing what you’ve already got.
  3. Chick-Fil-A – Values-Based Operations: As we all know, Chick-Fil-A is closed on Sundays, allowing their families quality time to spend together, and broadcasting the message that Sunday is a day for family. But it doesn’t end there. The chain’s community involvement, outspoken (and sometimes controversial) positions on social issues tell a story about who they are, and they’re OK that the story isn’t for everyone.

These folks have all found their nachos, and they have no fear or hesitation about saying it.

Tell It Like It Is

One of our values at Kolbeco is to live to our mission and values, regardless of what it looks like to others. We believe in being a catalyst for confidence and shine. We communicate in a specific way and show up in a way that’s uniquely Kolbeco. Our clients do the same.

Our friends at Krilogy, for example, believe so strongly in their story of “The Art of Accomplishment” that you can stop any of their nearly 45 employees on the street, ask them what Krilogy is about, and they’ll tell you about what accomplishment means, their commitment to teamwork, their client-first, firm second philosophy, and their culture that brings it all to life.

The team at Hair Saloon have focused their entire operation on honoring the tradition of the corner barbershop, creating a place “Where Men Feel Comfortable®” and serving men in an environment of respect. This story is evident not only in the experience, but in all of the imagery, language, and communications.

The Antennas Direct story is all about liberating people from bad relationships with cable and satellite companies. Company founder, Richard Schneider, never saw other antenna companies as the competition. Pay TV service was the competition, and the legions of subscribers who held a strong dislike for them served as the audience as they began dumping cable and satellite in droves and watching television over-the-air for free with antennas.

Each of these examples has experienced tremendous growth because they’re not afraid to be who they are, and tell their story like it is. There are many choices of financial firms, places to get a haircut, and options for watching TV. Yet there’s something that resonates about these stories. They too, have found their nachos.

I encourage everyone in marketing, and as a human being, to think about what makes your story different. What’s your passion? What do you have to say that’s uniquely you, and how do you live that each day? Finding that nacho, fine Italian sports car, or grassy knoll will help you rise above the noise and connect with others in a meaningful way.