Sep 262011
 
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be bold

Be Bold.  Rise Above The Noise.

As an entrepreneur, it is important to be bold.  We live in a world where there is so much “noise” of all sorts, that if you’re not willing to be bold, it’s likely that you will get “lost in the shuffle”.  Think about it; how many TV ads, radio ads, emails, billboards, print ads, and other marketing messages do you receive in a day?  What percentage do you think you pay attention to?

The bold are not always loved, but typically they are respected and in a lot better position to be remembered and ultimately, to be successful.  Particularly as a relatively new venture, but also true for more mature businesses, one of the biggest challenges you will face is making yourself and your company stand out from the rest of the pack.  Without being bold and trumpeting your strengths and differentiating factors, it is unlikely that you will stand out and succeed.

I realize that this concept of being bold will not appeal to everyone.  In fact, a lot of the time, I’d rather “fly under the radar” as well.  Unfortunately though, as an entrepreneur, you typically need to find a way to be noticed, in order to be successful.  This is not to say that you should be obnoxious, but it is to say that you will probably have to do some things that you’re not entirely comfortable with, in order to become known.  Use your imagination.  The wilder, the better.  Stay within the law, of course, but with those guidelines, the sky is the limit.

Take for example mega successful billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson – he used to do all sorts of death defying daredevil stunts to promote his early and very successful company, Virgin Records.  I’m not advocating necessarily that you risk your life, but the more different and exciting that you and your company can be (within reason, given the industry you’re in, of course), the more known and successful you are likely to become.  Be creative in your boldness.

If it makes your stomach turn just thinking that you need to be bold, try looking at it a bit differently.  Don’t think of it necessarily as the peacock, strutting its beautiful, loudly colored feathers in an effort to be noticed.  Rather, think of it as “finding your voice”.  I hear this phrase used quite a bit in the online, blogging and social media space, and being more of an auditory person, it has a visceral appeal for me.  In essence, it says that you don’t necessarily need to make yourself stand out by being “loud and obnoxious”.  Instead, you can do so by finding “your voice,” or unique and distinctive way that you communicate with your target market and other constituencies.

As long as the “voice” that you choose resonates with your constituencies, you can establish yourself as someone (or some company and brand) adding value with a unique perspective and approach, which makes you someone worth listening to.  I think Apple, one of the most recognized brands in the world, with one of the most loyal groups of followers and customers, does a great job of getting its “voice” across to its markets.  It does such a clever job of doing so, in the way its products are designed and in all of its communications, that the target market actually believes that it’s “their voice”.  And as you know, most people love the sound of their own voice.

So, if you’re sitting there thinking, “I don’t want to be bold and obnoxious,” well, you really don’t need to be in order to establish your “voice” in the marketplace.  You must, however, be unique and most importantly, be adding value, from the perspective of your target market and other key constituencies.  Remember, if you don’t find a way to rise above the “noise,” no one will ever know about the great products, services and solutions you provide.

I look forward to your thoughts and questions.  Please leave a comment (“response”) below or in the upper right corner of this post.

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

 

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  • Excellent Post Paul ! Bold for the sake of being bold means nothing if you don’t bring value. Yes, people judge you by the cover initially but at the end they should like your personality and what you can do to help them succeed.

  • Sherrie Koretke

    Well Paul, I have my theories on boldness. Not everyone is going to embrace the idea of it. It’s naturally built in to some people. On the other hand, there has to be some way you can bring out entrepreneurial boldness. If not yourself, a partner, a team or a spouse.
    Sherrie

  • I hear you, Sherrie. Boldness as it is traditionally portrayed is definitely not for everyone. As I said in the article though, to be “bold,” or at least to “rise above the noise,” you don’t necessarily need to be loud and obnoxious. The key is to find a unique “voice” that adds value and that your constituencies like to hear. I’m familiar with your site and your writing and it seems to me that you’ve been successful in achieving this! As with a lot of people who offer substantive ideas and information on the web, you’ve also managed to do it without taking that loud “traditional boldness” route. 🙂

  • Thanks, Anne. I agree — there has to be substance behind the boldness, otherwise any initial allure quickly fades! It’s important to be bold, but if you don’t bring value, boldness typically will not get you too far. There are exceptions, of course!

  • Kate Hall

    Paul
    I take note of your comments and quite frankly…..I like them and agree with you. It takes courage and confidence to be bold and have ones voice heard. This may take time to register but the process of doing it is part of the development and ‘the brand’ creation. Being consistent with the way that you broadcast your voice seems to be all important and I don’t mean saying the same thing all the time but saying it in a way that the audience hear the person behind the voice.

  • Thanks, Kate. It seems like we’re very much on the same page! The are many ways to go about “being bold” and having one’s voice heard. How you do it has everything to do with your personality and also with the “voice” that your target constituencies are willing and ready to hear. Which “voice” makes sense can vary widely, depending on you and your markets. There is no one “right way”. It’s whatever works and can be sustained! Thanks for stopping by and for your comment. Well said!

  • James St. John

    Paul, It takes a certain amount of boldness to recognize your “unique voice” and put yourself out there. That is why I always begin the “marketing conversation” with new clients, focusing on what makes them unique. Let’s face it, there are hundreds of people peddling the same products and services we are. In order to break through the “noise” we must have something new, fresh and smart (sounds like I commercial I saw recently) that sets us apart, adds value and warrants the attention of our target market. (Now that I’ve restated what I hear you saying).
    What’s interesting to me about Apple is that they did three things from the very beginning: 1) They found their unique voice and stuck to it, even when the IBM compatibles were kicking their tails in sales. 2) They understood (and continue to practice) that competing on price was not to their advantage. They sell their uniqueness and their value, also developing superior products IMHO 3) They are bold in their approach to new technologies, fresh in their design and smart in their marketing appeal. They continue to be different…rather than a “clone.” 🙂

  • Paul, you are on FIYA, brotha!

    So, what I gather here is that folks need to remember what Seth Godin strongly urges us to do: be remarkable. Playing it safe may work for many but how sustainable is it?

    To me, it’s about taking a stand and perhaps being “crazy”. It doesn’t mean stirring controversy or making enemies, though that may happen if you stick by your convictions and principles. Be authentic.

    When you truly do something different, you’ll find you have much more avid fans though you may “limit your audience”. I rather have a few super-excited supporters than tons of luke-warm or casual “listeners”. How about you?

    I’d say the reward out-weighs the risk. Good trade-off potential here… Trading massive numbers for people that really care.

    I’ll reiterate that this all depends on your goals. We’ve seen some folks flip web sites and blogs alike once they get massive numbers. Huge followings and tons of site traffic is also attractive to advertisers, because they still don’t think in terms of relevance, authority, or engagement. It’s a numbers game for many marketers out there still.

    That said, I’ll repeat this: I’ll take the trade-off by being a little risky and crazy. Why not? 8)

  • Very well said, James. I think Apple is a great example of being “bold” in a way that works. It’s amazing how well you can do when you truly create something unique! It’s tough to do for obvious reasons, but when you “pull it off,” the sky’s the limit. We should note too, that most of Apple’s products, at this stage of the game, are not completely unique. Most of them have been knocked off countless times by countless companies. However, there is no other Apple.

    I also like your point that you start the conversation with clients with “what makes you unique?” … It’s the right place to start in my opinion. If the answer is “nothing” or nothing that really matters to customers, then it will be a steep hill to climb to avoid the dangers of commoditization! Paul

  • I like your style, Yomar! I agree that it pays to be a bit crazy. It may not always pay financially (but sometimes it does), however, I’ve never been much in favor of doing what the masses do. I like the way you put it, very concisely: be authentic. There is only one you and there is only one “your company,” whatever it may be. Why do everything so similarly and unremarkably that, de facto, you just become one of many? Homogenized. Commoditized. Marginalized. Doesn’t sound too great! I agree with your being willing to trade off massive numbers to find a smaller number of truly engaged, fanatical fans. With time, it’s possible to have both, however in the short term, quality and quantity together are not possible for most people. I’ll take quality any day, if the trade-off is required! Keep on doing what you do, Yomar. It seems to me that you’re doing a great job of standing out from the pack, and you’re doing it the “right way,” from my perspective, at least. 🙂

  • Hi Paul,
    The best do not always make it to the top not because of lack of talent but because of lack of buzz. Look at some of the top blogs out there. The best and or most popular blogs are not the best that there is in my opinion but each one found unique ways to generate a lot of buzz about themselves.

    Great post.

  • Agreed, Justin. The key is to find a way to rise above the noise. History has already proven many times over that it’s not necessarily the best offerings (products/services) that end up “winning”. Rather it’s those companies that can promote their offerings best that usually end up on top. Thanks for stopping by. Paul

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  • Jen Olney

    Great work, Paul. Finding your voice – it’s being you and in every way, communicate your truth. We each have an different perspective to bring to the marketplace. What’s key is that each person have a niche in the marketplace and develop their own community, clients that sing their praises and carry their tune as well. What I find is that you are true to your core values, speak in your “real” voice and don’t sugar coat your message, you find that you will carve out your own place and make a notch in the universe.

  • Thanks, Jen. Yes, I have found the same thing: you must find “your voice” and you must be true to it. It allows you to establish a real connection with your clients, your readers, and your other constituencies. In order to rise above the noise, you need to be bold and different, but that does NOT mean that you have to be obnoxious. The word “bold” scares some people, as for some it has negative connotations, such as egotistical, flashy, loud, ostentatious, obtrusive, etc. However, in this context, it simply means that you need to be yourself, consistently, and not be shy about it. Paul