'To be irreplaceable, one must always be different.' Coco Chanel.

It's a powerful statement. And it's true. But its simplicity masks the typically daunting challenge of being different. Just how do you achieve it and stand out from the crowd?

If you're more of a 'me too' type of business today, what's it going to cost to change? And how do you know who to trust in guiding you through any necessary transformation to get to 'different', so that you can start realising the benefits of being ‘irreplaceable’?

There's plenty of free advice in the traditional and digital media on this topic. The attached article by Rebekah Radice is one good example of what you can very easily find and it's sensible stuff. 

Essentially, Radice strongly advocates using social media to create differentiation for your business and it’s a strategy that has worked extremely well for us in our business. So unsurprisingly, I highly recommend it too; even though only a few years ago, I was most definitely in the ‘sceptical and no thank you!’ camp.

Radice outlines 4 key actions that you should take and if you do them well, a near state of brand-differentiation-nirvana should follow at the end of it. These actions essentially comprise:

1. Defining your special skills, focusing on the right detail to draw in your target customers and create a deeper, more meaningful connection with them.

2. Sharing your brand and other stories though the production and publication of great content.

3. Not being a carbon copy ‘in an online world where copycats exist more than ever before, it’s essential that you create your own persona.’

4. 'Begin where others end' - my personal favourite. Radice warns that today, you can’t just expect to show up and post content to succeed with social media. You must ‘commit to being consistent and strategic in your social media efforts’.

She concludes by asserting that ‘there’s no longer a question as to the validity of social media.’

I want to focus on that final statement especially.

This time last year, the entities from which our brand new business was created, and our investor parents, did not use social media for marketing or sales purposes. 

We were far from exceptional. It just wasn’t ‘the done thing’, across the insurance or the legal sector. Staff didn’t access or use social media accounts on their desktops or company equipment and any infrequent tweeting that was done was formal, strictly limited to promotion of business events or conferences. Blogging for business purposes was a distinctly alien notion.

Fast forward 12 months and many of our staff comfortably and confidently use social media, we've received client instructions and forged exciting collaboration and distribution partnerships (over Twitter). 

Plus the blogs written by many of our employees in teams across the business now appear to be the opening topic of conversations at most networking events, pitches and business lunches that we attend. 

And we only seriously started any of this activity within the last 4 months.

So you can probably see why the power of social media and great content to build the right connections in a ridiculously short space of time is something about which we're fast becoming evangelical. Social media has been a brilliant strand of our multi-faceted marketing strategy.

And it's safe to say that for us, it has probably been the most successful element in terms of leads generation. 

It's fun, it's relevant, it's easy, it's cost-effective and most of all, it's where our customers and partners are at, in an environment where they're open to considering possibilities and opportunities.

In case you're where we were at this time last year, we thought it would be helpful to share our thought process with you.

So, the attached infographic examines why we embarked on this activity in the first place and how we managed to persuade our investor parents to take a calculated risk on a strategy that was very new to them and which none of either our or their peer groups and rivals were successfully using at the time.

Today, neither we nor they have a single regret. For as Einstein himself once said:

'The one who follows the crowd will usually get no further than the crowd. The one who walks alone is likely to find himself in places no one has ever been.'

Which do you choose to be? Pedestrian or pioneer?

Stand out and be special.

Our infographic could well help you too. 

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