I was at a business exhibition last week. There were around 1,400 stands there, for various companies.
The interesting thing about this is that it allows you to see – on a fairly broad scale – who’s doing stuff that makes them stand out, and exactly what it is that they’re doing.
The bad thing is… it allows you to see how many companies are doing the same thing as each other, while thinking they’re doing something unique.
I cannot tell you how many stands had;
– Free pens to give away, with their company name on.
– A ‘win a prize’ table, with a goldfish bowl into which you drop your business card (yeah, I know, ‘data collection’… but still).
– A few staff dressed in bright t-shirts (orange, pink, or green) to ‘grab attention’.
– Messaging which stated ‘we’re a bit different / our approach is different’.
– Products described as giving ‘miraculous results’.
I see this all the time, outside of exhibitions. If a client asks me to write brand new content for their website, the first thing I do is visit the websites of five of their competitors.
Why? To see what – across the board – they’re all saying as industry cliches, so that I can avoid them or at least position my client as being different from the chasing pack (or state how they’re different).
But let’s forget about me. As a business, before you go to write your own content / come up with an advertising campaign / take an exhibition stand, it’d take you five minutes to have a quick glance at what everyone else (in your industry) is saying.
Once you’ve noted the cliches, you can look to avoid them and at least say something original, as opposed to something which induces a roll of the eyes.
Five minutes – that’s all it takes… but it’ll be five minutes well spent.