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Just The Tip: Difference Isn’t About Being Different.

In: Just The Tip,

You know what I’m passionate about? Elephants.

Big, giant, hot chartreuse, polka dotted elephants. In the room. Online. Where there’s at least one Nigerian Prince sending out emails with the salutation, “Friend.”

(Oh wait, that was me.)

Right now, the elephant in the room I’m sitting in is the increasingly common practice of—how should I say it?—embellishing how to describe what you do // help with // are.

“Me? I’m the Chief Happiness Officer and I, well, I help people self-actualize.”

While there’s nothing wrong with trying to seem interesting // not sound plain // differentiate ourselves, there’s also nothing right about accidentally confusing the people you need to understand you in order to say YES to you.

What we’re missing here is a slice of clarity cake. Not to be confused with carrot cake. At least not today.

Yes, you may bring me happiness. (Officer? Sir? Offi-sirrrr?)

Yes, you may save me time and money. 

Yes, you may provide solutions.

Yes, you may have a quote unquote holistic approach.

But if I can’t connect the dots from the end result, back to my problem?

I’m going to give you a blank stare before polite-smiling and saying, “Pass.”

As products (and they’re all products of some kind) become less and less tangible, or something we can’t put our hands on (life coaching, branding, grief counseling, etc.), the more we need to describe them in ways that are human, or what I call G friendly:

Grandma friendly.

Would the mother of your mother, bearded or not, understand who you are and what you’re selling?

If not, then—surprise!—neither will anyone else.

Don’t forget: The people you are selling to aren’t in your industry. They don’t know your jargon, or why something like “photojournalistic” is even a selling point. It flies riiiiight over their heads—while you’re left scratching yours.

Stop trying selling to your competitors. YOUR COMPETITOR’S AREN’T BUYING FROM YOU. (Except for the desperate, scared ones spying on you, in which case, GOOD, make ’em sweat your game.)

I’m an accountant. I save people time and money…by sending all of their contractors 1099’s so they don’t have to worry about it themselves.

I’m a photographer. I create memories…by helping travelers get vacation photos by local photographers around the world. (What new company Flytographer is up to.)

I’m a creative brand strategist. I make people money…by helping them screw business as usual & break through the sea of sameness.

Don’t forget the by.

Because once you’ve got the by, you’re in a much better position to get the buy…if you know what I’m sayin’. (This is me. Elbowing you. Cigar hanging out of mouth. John Candy in Uncle Buck.)

Use those words, and that language, and then you’ve got yourself a starting point for saying something people will care about.

Because let’s be honest: If I had called this website, “Ashley Ambirge Brand Strategy,” would you be reading this right now?


And you wouldn’t have the opportunity to have nightmares about this terrifying image, either.

polka elephant 2

The difference doesn’t lie in calling yourself something different.

In fact, the difference doesn’t even lie in being different.

The difference lies in how different your customers feel—

even when what you do is exactly the same. 

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10 thoughts on "Just The Tip: Difference Isn’t About Being Different."

  1. Samantha Pollack says:

    Lots of experts have told me lately that everything I do (in business) has to be dumbed down to a 9th-grade level. and while I get the idea, it just doesn’t feel right to me. I was a giant nerd in 9th grade with pleated pants, braces and a mushroom haircut.

    My grandma, though, she had class.

    1. Ash Ambirge says:

      Definitely a difference between “dumbing down” and speaking in tangible, concrete language and even using interesting analogies that help make a message pop. Keep that in mind, my lovely @samanthapollack:disqus – hopefully that helps!