Appreciating the Peculiar: Standing Out in the Marketing Industry

Self-proclaimed “professional weirdo” and Head of Creative at Our Marketing Guys LTD, Simon Jacobs, shares his tips for standing out in the business and marketing industry.

After working in marketing consultancy, Jacobs realised marketing was more about “coming up with new ideas, coming from a place of being weird”, and so he began to run workshops and discussions on using “weird” to achieve success—by motivating companies to push past their normalised ideas into unknown territory.

So, firstly, why is it important to be weird and stand out in business?

Businesses are competitive.  “Standing out is massive” because, as Jacobs reminds us, “if you look at any industry that is commoditised, the only way you can stand out is by being different”. The business industry is dominated by the ka-ching of coins dropping into pockets. So how can we be different in an industry where every business you look at shares similar qualities?

You don’t necessarily have to be perceived as “weird”; you just have to be different from all the other businesses out there. You need to offer an alternative to the boring expectations. Instead of fighting pounds with pounds, you can fight pounds with customer service; with humour; with experimental content; with other desirable characteristics of business.

Standing out in the industry will also ensure that you connect with people “you want to work with”. When you put out a certain vibe, only those who understand it will receive it positively. Therefore, you will have the opportunity to work with more like-minded people who understand your intentions and business purpose. 

Ok, so standing out means people will notice me more? But is there anything else?

Are you struggling to locate your inner weirdo?

No need to fear! Simon has a variety of tips in bringing out the “professional weirdo” in your company.

1. Authenticity

  • The first rule of thumb? Don’t fake it. “Professional weirdo” Simon knows a thing or two about witnessing propaganda perceptions.
  • Don’t be the company that does “weird things deliberately to stand out”.
  • It has to be authentic. It has to be honest. If you “put on a persona”, rather than display your true self, you will make people uncomfortable and ultimately miss out on your business aim.

How do you do this, you wonder? “Do something that’s normal to you and weird to others.”

Simon's Linkedin Picture.

For Simon, that’s using an image of his tongue as his LinkedIn picture. He received a lot of feedback from people saying he “looks like an idiot” and from others saying he was a “genius” for using this method to stand out and make himself known. Work with the people who think you’re a genius. Work with the people who appreciate your peculiarity. Work with the people who appreciate your honesty. “LinkedIn is great for disrupting the normal appearance of things”, as the site encourages a repetitive and familiar structure for profiles. Take advantage of the generic and make it weird.

2. Know yourself

  • What makes you work? What makes you stop?
  • Simon knows “how to bring [his] creativity out”. It is “fuelled from a wide range of stimuli”, namely drawing.
  • He believes “everyone is inherently creative”, but you need to be educated on how to find it.
  • Discovering your interests (like drawing, painting, playing music and doing interior design) is a good way to unlock where your creativity stems from.
  • Locate your creativity.

Humans will naturally learn how to be more creative as time goes on and more scientific developments are created. When robots eventually take over, Simon says, “humans will come in for the creative approach”.

3. Engage

  • The effect of social media in marketing is astronomical, particularly for engaging with the “youth market”.
  • Facebook, WhatsApp, YouTube, LinkedIn and Instagram are vital media accessories you should become acquainted with. You can use these while going up against established markets.
  • Work with start-ups and student businesses.
  • Connect with people who aren’t soaring at the top.
  • The CMO at Uni2 “operated inside clubs” and “partnered with resident businesses” to achieve this.
  • Jacobs also created a Facebook page, where he currently has 1,200 followers. This provides a supportive following for when he goes to pitch marketing ideas – “1200 people agree with my idea”. Having this as a foundation will really help you gain some credibility as a “professional weirdo”. Companies need to know your shocking ideas can be agreeable in business.

“However, you can be too weird”, so...

4. Know your limits

  • If your way of being different isn’t genuine, it will result in an “unholy disgusting element to marketing”.
  • “If it’s not genuine for you, you’ll turn people off.”
  • Know your audience and know what they find distasteful.

Start off small. Standing out in the industry “doesn’t have to be massive, doesn’t have to be revolutionary, just has to slightly nudge your corner of the world.”

Still don’t have any ideas?

Simon Jacobs recommends striding into work with a different colour tie. A tie that stands out. A tie that will make people notice you above the colour palette of grey, white and black. “Being remembered is half the battle.” Once people remember you, they will talk about you – and that will attract more traffic to your business.

Be weird. Be peculiar. Be different.

Published: 
Friday, May 18, 2018