I was on the bus the other day, but it was no ordinary bus. The driver, who was certainly not your typical Brisbane city bus driver, had dubbed his bus the “happy bus”.
To help ensure the happy bus maintained the appropriate vibe, he made an announcement as we left the city station.
He explained how if you were having a bad day that you had to leave your grumpiness back at the bus stop. The driver told us we had two conditions to meet: we must have a relaxing trip and rest assured that he would get us safely to our stops.
Needless to say, this bus driver was one happy fellow and definitely not what you would normally experience on a Brisbane city bus ride.
Although initially shocked and a bit apprehensive that we had a whack-job for a bus driver, by the end of his show, I was chuckling and clapping like everyone else on the bus. It was especially funny when he revealed that no, he is not on any special medication.
As I departed the bus I realized that within the space of five minutes this bus driver had demonstrated two very important marketing principles.
Those are two of the most important ingredients in internet marketing. How to stand out from the crowd, capture attention and do it in a way that makes people like you, trust you, remember you and if possible, desire an ongoing relationship with you.
Of course the bus driver wasn’t selling anything to me and I wasn’t about to subscribe to his newsletter (at least I don’t think he has one), but he certainly did stand out from the crowd.
That last point really made me think, by being different, by putting himself out there and making an effort to have an emotional impact on his passengers, this bus driver gave us a unique experience.
One of the key criteria that every person who builds a platform around their personality has, is something that makes them different, or something they do or have done that is unique.
Contrast is key.
If there is a common practice or method for doing something in your industry and you follow that path, you may earn some results, but you won’t establish leadership or enjoy the fruits of greater exposure.
For many people in my industry, the leaders and most successful people, their point of contrast is almost always some kind of previous success story – or several. Usually they have had prior business success, and they have leveraged that to start a successful blog based on their personal brand.
Examples that spring to mind are Darren Rowse, who got his start in blogging with a photography/church blog, David Risley who first tasted success with a computer tech site and Pat Flynn who began with an architecture exam training site.
Sometimes it’s not just about business success, it might be living an unusual lifestyle or achieving unusual success in other aspects of life. Tim Ferriss and his 4-hour exploits, Chris Guillebeau and his world travels or Adam Baker and his quest to get out of debt by selling everything he owned, are such examples.
Whatever the example may be, there is something unique, something that no one else has done that sets them apart.
If you are now thinking what it is that makes you unique that might be the basis for your own platform, I can offer you some advice. You don’t have to be completely different in what you have achieved or are setting out to achieve. What you need is a unique spin or voice.
Here are some suggestions –
Figuring out your uniqueness may take time. What you are presently working on may eventually turn into your story. Sometimes you need to live a little before sharing with other people what you are doing.
The other criteria necessary beyond having a story to share, is a willingness to share it.
The Happy Bus Driver is probably not the only guy feeling happy or with an outgoing personality, but he’s the only driver who decided to start sharing the happiness by shouting at his passengers.
That takes guts. That takes a desire to impact other people with what you say and do. Not everyone has the motivation to do that nor do they want the scrutiny that comes along with standing in the limelight.
One of the outcomes from being an information publisher or any person who shares ideas online, is that you are putting a piece of yourself out there for others to see. It’s inevitable that you will be judged and because you are presenting yourself publicly, others will feel it’s okay to judge you publicly as well.
This is especially true on the web, where people feel safe to ridicule each other because they are sitting at home in front of their computer. People wouldn’t use the kind of language or attack each other in the same manner if they were standing face-to-face with an actual human being.
Most people don’t want the attention, the scrutiny and the judgements that come with building a profile online. The more well known you get, the more opinions you will be subjected to. It takes a unique strength of character, courage of conviction, or perhaps a huge ego or partial insanity to want to influence others with your ideas.
The final piece of the puzzle is the most important ingredient.
You can be willing to share your ideas and have a unique story to share, but if you don’t elicit any emotion from the people you share it with, they will quickly forget about you.
Personally I prefer positive emotions, where my audience comes to like me and how I make them feel, and that’s one of the reasons they come back to my work.
I should point out that any emotion is addictive and if you are looking for audience you don’t have to be likable, in fact sometimes you can be more famous because people hate you or you polarize opinion.
I of course do not recommend you shoot for this angle, but it is important that you understand controversy and bad news sells, usually better than a good story. That’s why our news programs are full of death, tragedy, loss and liars. We love to know about bad things, even if they make us feel awful.
I personally believe we need a mass consciousness shift so we don’t reward bad news with so much attention and instead reward positivity and kindness. Whether or not this is possible is up for debate, and certainly beyond the scope of this article.
Just be aware that there is an angle you can take, one that might not elicit the best emotions, but will grab attention. It’s the angle were you attack others, criticize and make fun of things. It’s a tightrope walk because you open yourself up for the same criticism coming back at you, plus potential legal ramifications and even physical violence if you upset the wrong people, so be careful.
The important point to make is that emotions are what keep us interested in things. If you can make people laugh, or connect with you because of a shared point of view or experience, or enlighten through your insight, or help people gain something in their life, they will place value on you and your work. This will bring people back for more.
This is a more subtle aspect of marketing. The best advice I can give you is much like what you first hear when you get advice on dating – be yourself.
Authenticity is key, so being yourself allows you to be natural and play to your strengths. If you are naturally sarcastic, be sarcastic. If you are naturally sensitive, express your sensitivity.
No matter what you are like, there are others out there like you who will resonate with what you say and how you say it. Not every one will of course, but you would be foolish to try and elicit a response from everyone. Just like you niche your market, you should niche your voice online as well.
As a slightly unorthodox bus driver was able to demonstrate, by being different, willing to stand out from a crowd by expressing his unique personality, you can get attention and make an impact on people.
You can never be sure how things will play out, but if you focus on expressing a voice, which is uniquely yours, play to your strengths and share your stories using a public platform, people will pay attention. Some will remember you and come back for more.
The fact that the internet today is dominated by social tools like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, is a reflection that on some level we all want social recognition.
We may not all want to be famous, and many of us are happy to stay out of the limelight completely, but I believe every one of us wants to make an impact on other people. We all want to feel important, even if it’s just to one other person or a small group of people we have only ever interacted with online.
Here’s to having an impact.
Photo courtesy of conner395