How To Stand Out In A World Of Infinite Choice


Image Credit:  Today Is A Good Day

We’re surrounded by horizons of information that stretch seemingly forever.  I won’t go into statistics, you’re well aware of the countless numbers of blogs, websites, online stores, social networks, publications, companies and individuals vying for our attention every second we’re conscious.  For all intensive purposes, the web is made up of infinite choice and infinite content.

So you either blend in or stand out.  In a world of essentially infinite content, being anywhere in between isn’t very desirable, and in many cases might as well be invisible.

Humans and machines as content filters

Web services, search engines and savvy users filter the infinite down to what they have deemed the sharpest pieces.  Save for a few that manage to game the system, in time the best resources of information will rise to the top and claim their place as owner of a niche.  Corporations and individuals are on equal footing when it comes to getting through the filter, and we see examples of both daily.

Getting through the filters of the web (human or automated) successfully is a matter of standing out.  You can only game a system for so long before it turns against you, and that is never a smart or sustainable strategy.  Also, while it is not gaming the system, web advertising is really a band-aid, and not a great one at that.  Your product should shine enough on it’s own that the need for advertising is minimal.

I’m not saying advertising can’t help you, especially if you’re just starting out, however realize that in a world of infinite choice, with filters that get sharper each day, paying for anything more than superficial levels of attention becomes increasingly difficult.

Trying to gain the focus of people for your blog, your business, or yourself can seem like an impossible task, but it is possible to win the game of infinite choice for those with perseverance.

Here’s some tips for standing out against staggering numbers:

Don’t be afraid to let your true personality shine

You see again and again the successes of the information economy are made up of people/services/businesses that have personality and cultivate culture.  When the majority is made up of faceless, neutral or watered down content, strong personality is a breath of fresh air.

Michael Arrington at TechCrunch never holds back and isn’t afraid to let his true feelings come out, and that is a big reason for his site’s popularity.

Always show pure passion and dedication

Passion is a secret of the social web.  Those with passion also tend to be dedicated to the point of obsession.  Seth Godin writes some sage words on being irrationally committed, and he’s right on all accounts:

Parents or other adults who are irrationally committed to a kid’s well being make a huge (perhaps the biggest) difference in that young person’s life.

Entrepreneurs who are irrationally committed to their business are far more likely to get through the Dip.

Salespeople and service providers and marketers who are irrationally committed to customer service can completely transform an ordinary experience and make it remarkable.

Is being irrational irrational? Of course it is. That’s why it often works.

If you’re looking for the sensible, predictable, long-term strategy, this probably isn’t it. Except when it is.

Transparency and honesty are vital

In a low trust world, real honesty and transparency go a long way to set you apart.  You can’t fake this, eventually everyone’s true colors come out.  Use authenticity as a way to set you apart as a more positive choice.  The filter of the web is smart, and getting smarter each day – being inauthentic is not a sustainable strategy.

Steve Rubel is a popular blogger and the engine behind Edelman digital.  He sometimes throws clients into the mix, but he is honest about it which is important to maintaing his reputation (I also always disclose client mentions as well).  The point is if he ever cloaked his mentions and was discovered, he would probably lose a great deal of his carefully built reputation, which is difficult, sometimes impossible to regain.

Solve both complex and simple problems

If you can truly help others solve real problems – whether those are problems they are conscious of or not, you will set yourself apart from the masses.  Not just complex problems either, offer solutions for simple problems that may be obvious to you but you still see others struggling with.

Sometimes many of us struggle with complexities when all it takes is a good dose of simplicity to clear things up in an instant.  We tend to look to people, business and organizations who can show us a simple, elegant and refined path.

One of my favorite articles from Daniel Scocco who writes Daily Blog Tips is his post entitles “hold tight, it will only get easier“.  Simple, strong advice, but it’s absolutely true.

Be compelling

Yes, much of what gets quick attention on the web is gimmicky, novel, or controversial.  There’s nothing inherently wrong with that.  But, if you want real staying power and want to stand out long term, what you’re doing needs to be compelling.

Want to read an incredibly compelling blog?  Go check out Violent Acres (I suggest starting in the popular post section).  She’s got consistent wit and style and is always interesting – no question why she’s popular.

Never say impossible, be confident and unafraid

The best blogs on the web are written by those with confidence.  The best websites were created by designers that were unafraid to take chances and create what they knew would stand out.  Much of what consistently breaks through the content filter is put forth by confident people, organizations and businesses.

Maki at DoshDosh inspires me not only due to his articulate writing, but also because of his confidence and poise.  It defines his style, and is a key to his success.

Steve Jobs is unafraid and refuses to accept that anything is impossible.  I am sure people have told him his ideas were too far-fetched, and that probably gave him even more motivation to achieve them.

Go against the status quo

This is a bit of a cliche I know, but it’s true.  People who challenge the status quo and offer a more appealing alternative can reshape/redefine a niche and break through the clutter.

Frank McKinney (full disclosure, he’s a client) is building the world’s largest green mansion (named Acqua Liana) in Manalapan Florida at a time when everyone else is halting their projects.  Frank consistently challenges the status quo and is a great example of someone who stands out in an incredibly crowded market.

He’s building it on “spec” which means without a buyer in mind (check out a video of the project).  Cost?  $29 million…

I’ll bet he finds a buyer too.

Conclusion

Blending in and being just like others is no longer an option for business or individuals.  Amazingly it used to be, as is apparent when you look at how normalized much of the world is today.  Our society previously praised mediocrity and went so far as to put it on a pedestal.

But the world has changed.

Being like others is no longer a desirable trait, and neither is having a business or running an organization that is just like everything else.  The world has moved in a completely different direction.

If you desire to beat impossible numbers and stand out in a world of infinite choice (it is possible), you must be the absolute sharpest option.

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