How You Can Stand Out from the Crowd

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shutterstock_253442647Job-seekers and career professionals often search for a way to stand out from the crowd. Well, have you considered selling bamboo sheets on Amazon?

That probably sounds crazy. I hope it does, at least a little bit. But it’s a real-world example from a student I met just this week while guest speaking at a university class.

Of the 60 students I met, he’s the one I remember.

While we’re all trying to stand out and show a unique initiative to our boss or our peers, the bamboo sheets reminded me that the solution is often a simple one. That is, sell something that interests you online.

It does not have to be a full-time business. This isn’t a startup you are going to go raise money for on Angel List. The marketplaces that exist today keep making it easier for all of us to sell a product. eBay, Etsy, and Amazon are all dead simple platforms that only require you to have a product to sell. Design it, name it, and price it. Take some pictures and setup your store online.

This also isn’t a career change. It doesn’t have to be more than a passing hobby. Simply pick a product, and figure out how to sell it. In doing so, you immediately gain a unique story and experience to stick alongside your name.

Again, selling a random product probably seems far from a strategy to improve your personal brand. It only seems worthwhile to me because I’ve met (and hired) numerous people over the years that’ve done it. To me, it sounds unique and shows a certain initiative that I appreciate as an entrepreneur.

This kid sells bamboo sheets? I immediately know he had to come up with a product, source it, store it, price it, market it, sell it, fulfill it and deal with customer service. That’s a lot to handle. It’s impressive, and it’s certainly unique in a crowded room full of students, or job candidates.

Selling your own product also shows you have hustle and can get things done. That’s the type of person we all want to work with, or hire. You’re a problem solver. You’ve dealt with the challenges of running a business, albeit a small one.

Your personal brand aside, it’s hard to argue the experience of selling a product is anything but worthwhile. I sold t-shirts in college. My partner sold trucker hats on eBay. I know we both learned a lot about the basics of incorporating a business, keeping proper financial records, paying taxes, and managing cash flow from our mini-businesses. More importantly, they became part of our resume and our story as entrepreneurs.

Of course, there’s also always the chance to strike gold. Ask Ryan Mulvany, who co-owns a company called Quiverr. I’ve met Ryan and it’s fascinating how he’s turned simple products into full-fledged brands by selling through Amazon. Amazon’s feedback loop via customer reviews and their visible data on top-selling products have produced a breeding ground for serious business to be done right on top of Amazon’s marketplace. While manufacturing your own skateboard line used to require you to build your own website and market it, Amazon and the other platforms already have the customers standing by.

The young student I met is simply having fun. Ryan has built a real business, but essentially started in the same place. Both of them are now in a more powerful position as professionals because of the experience they’ve gained.

It may not be the traditional way to beef up your resume or impress your boss, but I suppose that’s the point right? Slugging along to an MBA, or working extra hours may help you stand out. Turning bamboo sheets into a business that pays your rent and then some? Now that’s unique.


Personal Branding Blog – Stand Out In Your Career

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Standing Out From The Crowd

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It’s no secret that people these days are having email marketing thrown at them from all over the place. It’s also no secret that email marketing does work. But it can always work better. With so much consumer email being sent it’s very important to stand out from the crowd. In this post, I’ll go through some of the techniques you can use to do just that, with some examples of companies already doing it.

Be bold, be adventerous

Emails generally fall into very predictable and re-usable patterns, which isn’t a bad thing at all. In fact, in terms of maximising email profitability it’s very good. But just because an email design falls into a tabular based design doesn’t mean it can’t be adventurous and stand out from the crowd. This recent email from Apple, which was pointed out to me on Twitter by Mark Robbins, follows a very common design pattern of a large hero section, followed by a two column section. However, they’ve used a contrasting color palette, increased line-spacing, emotive background imagery and beautiful fonts to make it look amazing. It definitely stands out compared to a regular product launch email.

Really sell your product

A lot of emails that land in my inbox are simply a grid of products with a price and a call-to-action. A recent email I received from GHD goes above and beyond this. First off, it has a fantastic animated GIF demonstrating the before and after of using their product.

ghd

After that, it has a step-by-step guide on using their product, all from within one email. Very clever! And again, it stands out from the usual email in your inbox.

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Animation is your friend

Animation can be used in a lot of different ways in email but I really enjoy the way TK Maxx, a British retailer, used this combination of bold colors and animation to draw attention in their email.

colours

It’s especially nice because as you go further down the email, they continue the design style and the bold colour options:

colours2

Create a sense of urgency

Creating timely content and then encouraging people to act on the time factor of it is no small task, but I think Snow+Rock do this perfectly in their latest series of emails. They offer ‘Deals of the Day’ – deals that last only until midnight that night and include a neat little spinning animations to encourage people to purchase:

countdown

Reebok also recently did something similar, sticking a nice flashing animated banner at the top of their email that simply said “Last Chance,” again, creating that sense of urgency inspiring customers to purchase.

countdown2

Keep your content relevant

No-one wants to be receiving Christmas emails in July. This may sound like common sense, but a lot of companies have an email calendar of promotions that they stick to fairly rigidly. One of the largest sporting events of the year was Wimbledon, and The Hotel Collection latched onto the mood perfectly with this beautiful and well-timed hero image in their email.

thc

Inspire your readers

This tip is especially important if your sending from a travel based company. Your subscribers may not be looking at that time for a holiday. It’s your job to inspire them to buy one anyway. I absolutely love receiving travel emails, and I love this grid of destinations mixed with beautiful imagery from Thomson.

inspire

It really inspires you to just pack it all up and book a holiday, don’t you think?

Summary

There’s lots of different things you can do stand out in the email crowd, a lot I haven’t even covered in this post. I’d love to hear what you think of the examples I’ve included in this post. Or if you have any other examples of people standing out in the inbox, please do share them in the comments!

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