Are you “band-camping” your customers to death? 

There’s a problem with people pushing information-based products and services online and it’s this: lack of uniqueness. Everything looks the same: “Get your best life. Get your best body. Take your business to the next level. 10x your business.”  What does that even mean?

Business owners are too focused on what everyone else is doing and trying to copycat their way to the top. Most everything is too generic, high-level, vague, non-specific and, in a word, B-O-R-I-N-G.  The result is too much repetition and inauthenticity in the marketplace, and ultimately failure.

In fact, most online marketers remind me of that annoying “Chatty Cathy” character, played by Alyson Hannigan, in the movie American Pie that everyone tunes out: “And, one time, at band camp…and, one time, at band camp…and, one time, at band camp.”

Don’t “band camp” your customers to death! Your audience will soon become desensitized to mechanical, heard-it-all-before messages and won’t even listen, much less respond.

They aren’t looking for droll small talk. They’re looking for tangible talk: direct answers, specific tools and concrete solutions. Stop straining your neck to look over your shoulder at what everyone else is doing. Instead, try a less painful way to identify your one big idea.

Here’s an easier approach, and a surefire way to your hidden profit stream: look at what everyone else in the marketplace is doing and identify a gap or flaw in their offer. Their failure to meet a vital customer need is your window of opportunity.

By looking deeply into the marketplace and critiquing the copywriting I saw (lots of band-camping going on there!), I was able to quickly and profitably build a business for myself. People have something to say; they just need professional help in crafting a unique message to the world. They have a one-of-a-kind voice and message. That’s where I step in.

You don’t necessarily need to dream up the next big undiscovered thing; you can also improve upon an existing idea. Maybe you’ve identified a way to make a product or service faster, cheaper or include a much needed customer feature. It’s okay to derive inspiration from a concept or solution that has been done before. However, you need to put your personal touch on it.

Start by studying your industry and its key players. You can’t discover flaws and propose credible solutions without analyzing what’s wrong with existing products and services in your niche.

Listening is also a helpful way to uncover hidden gems of market opportunity. You will only identify gaps by listening to the market and responding to it. Dig deep into an industry, and be very aware of the voice of the customer. Find where your passion intersects with a deep-seated void, and you’ll hit your sweet spot.

To bring something into the world that the marketplace actually wants and needs, and to tap into your own hidden money stream, dig into these sources for inspiration:

  • Amazon: customer reviews provide endless inspiration for what is lacking from current product offerings. Type in your product area in the search box and hit enter. Click on a few of the results from the list to read customer comments. What you want to look for are not the positive reviews, but the one, two and three-star reviews. Those will provide you with specific answers on what’s lacking and what customers want.
  • Yelp: ideal for service-oriented businesses. What are the main customer complaints, wishes and wants that the current service providers are either under-serving or ignoring altogether?
  • Ask the social marketplace: if you already have a Facebook page, ask your followers questions about what they’re struggling with around a specific product or service. For my niche, I ask what problems that business owners struggle with when it comes to website copywriting, email and social media marketing.
  • Follow the top five blogs in your niche. Scroll through the reader comments, searching for points of disagreement, questions and ideas for improvement.

Listening to the marketplace will also help you avoid the trap of being overly general in your offer. Even if you’ve identified your what you’d like to offer, you want to make sure that it’s super-specific. Remember, the saying Jack of all trades, master of none“? It’s used in reference to a person who is competent in many skills, but no particular one. You can’t be all the things to all people. The more specific you can get, the better chance you have of carving out a profitable, unique position in your niche.

It’s okay to first identify a solution topic that is big and broad. But, you’ll need to take that topic and tighten it up. Measurable, objective and specific will always win over generic, vague and ambiguous.

Try it. You’ll be pumped up when you realize there’s actually ample room in the marketplace for bigger, better, bolder solutions — without “band camp-ing” your way to success. You’ll scream “hallelujah” when you realize it hasn’t “all been done before.” Your sacred contribution awaits.