Do you run with the herd in your marketing strategy?

Do you run with the herd in your marketing strategy?

Do you do what your competitors do? Or do you look for opportunities, innovations, and differentiation?

Picture this. I’m sitting in the parking lot after a performance at the Denver Coliseum. It is gridlock; everywhere. It takes 10 minutes to back out of the parking spot. Of course my husband turns in the direction of the exit and begins to wait in line. Everyone is lined up trying to get out the way we came in. Thousands of cars are in line. The line is at least a mile long. And it is gridlock. No one is moving.

What do you do?

99.99% of the population waits in line and tries to be patient. “Well, there’s nothing I can do,” you say. Everyone else is waiting. You sit and wait and make the best of it.

I am antsy. I picture a map of the area in my head. “Honey, we can go west”, I command. My husband just looks at me like I’m insane. We still have to wait in gridlock just to get out of the parking lot and at the current flow rate; it will take at least 15 minutes to get out.

So what do you do?

99.99% of the population waits in line and tries to be patient. “Well, there’s nothing I can do,” you say. Everyone else is waiting. You sit and wait and make the best of it.

I am antsy. I shout at my husband. Look, there has to be more than one way out of this parking lot. Fire code would demand it. Can you cut straight across that lane of traffic and drive the opposite way of everyone else?

After being married to me for 10 years, he has gotten used this type of dialog. Not that he doesn’t get angry at the backseat driver. But this is not an unusual dialog.

“And where to you propose I go” he asks.

Well, look. See there! Somewhere over there has to be an exit. You see. There are 5 cars that have taken that path and they haven’t come back.

So I order him to cut across perpendicular to the line and once he makes it to the clearing, to drive the opposite way of traffic, and see where it gets us.

So what do you do?

99.99% of the population yells at the moron in the passenger seat, then proceeds to wait in line and tries to be patient. “Well, we don’t even know if there’s going to be an exit that way,” you say. Everyone else is waiting to take the guaranteed path. You sit and wait and make the best of it.

My husband knows better. He cuts to the next lane. But someone behind us cuts us off. We have to wait 5 more minutes until they move forward one car length. But the next car in line won’t let us cut across in front of them. They need to protect their place in line. So we wait another 5 minutes.

So where are you?

99.99% of the population is in line and preserving their place from the people they perceive are trying to take their place.

Finally, we catch a break and cut through the traffic to the wide open parking lot on the other side. We turn away from the traffic and start driving. Where are we going? We don’t know. We drive behind the Coliseum, past the buses, past the loading docks, and finally, to the wide open exit. There are no cars in sight. We turn onto the freeway on-ramp. Still, there are no other cars. We bicker a bit as to whether we are on the right road. But my husband stays the course. We run into slight congestion at the merger of two freeways, and then we are home free.

So where are you?

We are home in our beds before the other guys even hit the street. But, you know, they did preserve their place in line.

So where are you with your business? Are you running with the herds? Or are you taking the road less traveled?

It can be scary paving your own path or following the one less popular. It can also be lonely. It is common to question yourself and have doubts. It takes strength to stay the course. It takes strength and faith to follow the road less traveled. But it also has the highest payoff, the greatest reward.

So where are you?

Are you innovating? Are you differentiating yourself? Are you looking for new opportunities?

As we look to the New Year, new plans, new challenges and new adventures, I challenge you to run away from the herd and take the path less traveled.

About Debra Zimmer

After 25 years of growing entrepreneurial businesses at companies such as Microsoft, where she attracted 700,000 members into an online community in 18 months and then grew a second one to 250,000 members in 10 months, Debra Zimmer then struck out on her own to grow an online retail store to 6-figures of income and put it on AUTOPILOT for 3 years. With an engineering degree and an MBA from Columbia Business School, Debra is the undisputed expert in helping experts, entrepreneurs and executives to focus their brilliance and magnify their impact using social media and internet marketing tactics.

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