It’s hard to stand out from your competition. Today’s hyper-connected, always on lifestyle means consumers are walking that fine line between educating themselves and information overload.

Just consider the landscape:

  • Internet search has become so pervasive that the name of the search market leader has become a verb. That’s on par with using the Kleenex brand name for all facial tissues, or using Coke as a label for all soft drinks. Go ahead, Google it. You’ll see what I am talking about.
  • Social media, a concept that was birthed in a college dorm room, now rivals email and search as people’s primary online activity. The number of social media channels seems to grow almost daily. And while many of them are intertwined by allowing users to share across platforms, they all boast unique features. That means a one-size fits all strategy rarely works for social media marketing.
  • The traditional media channel has grown wider, too. Previously, we had three major television networks, a few high-powered radio stations, Life magazine, and the local newspaper. Now there is a TV network, a satellite radio station and a magazine to cater to almost any demographic, special interest or hobby. Choosing this route to promote your business can seem like a variation on the “Where’s Waldo?” game – only you’re looking for customers.

So how do you set yourself apart and get noticed on such a cluttered landscape?

The Rewards of Risk Taking

You “risk being brilliant,” according to Corey Michael Blake, President of Round Table Companies and a member of the Young Entrepreneur Council.  In a post at, he challenges marketers to identify three elements before taking that risk:

  • The right message to amplify:  What makes your company stand out from the crowd?  Three suggestions: core values, knowledge base, mission.
  • The right platform to amplify the message: Give your staff the freedom to be creative and consider all options, from fashion shows to comic books.
  • The right partner to create the message: Find the most qualified people and put them to work.

When all three elements work together, the end product won’t just be “brilliant,” it will be a creative triumph that reinforces your brand and wins customer loyalty.

Unfortunately, many companies want to jump on whatever method seems “hot” at the moment, and currently, that’s social media.  But their message can quickly become muddled if they don’t have clear goals.

A Single Marketing Message Won’t Fit All Customers

Remember the different messages may require different platforms.  Your customers aren’t all the same, so you can’t create a single marketing campaign that will appeal to everyone.  One benefit of today’s fragmented media market is that you have multiple opportunities to micro-target campaigns to various groups of customers.

Many companies still struggle with social media as a platform. That’s not really a surprise with all the questions at stake. Is it a customer service channel or a marketing channel? Or is it both? If it is both, is it one channel or two? And do those answers vary based on which social media platform you use?

That’s why it helps to start by clarifying your message. As you do, stay focused on what elevates you above the competition. Use stories, photos and videos that explain why you are the customer’s right choice. This is where your biggest fans can become your strongest partners in amplifying your message. Once you identify your message and the best way to deliver it, social media becomes just another vehicle to deliver it.

Don’t neglect the more traditional channels in pursuit of social media success, either. People still watch TV, listen to radios and read newspapers. Also, most people still choose to call a company before deciding to do business. The same guidelines you apply to social media also apply to your advertising and on-hold messages.

In the end, remember that platforms will come and go. What’s hot today soon will be obsolete. Technology will continue to accelerate, bringing more and more data with it. Left unchecked, the tidal wave of technology and data can leave you drowning in indecision. Justine Arthur offers one simple key to staying afloat through it all: “It’s about the customer.”