Position Your Brand as a Specific Solution

Position Your Brand as a Specific Solution

It was yet another day in the middle of a heat wave in Shanghai. Temperatures hovered around 100 with a heat index of 115-120… but staying inside, in my air conditioned home office, was getting too boring day after day. I needed a change of scenery. So off to my favorite coffee shop I went.

Position Your Brand as a Specific Solution

As soon as I stepped out of the building and into the outdoors, I was hit by a wave of heat. It was almost a physical barrier to get through, step after step. I scanned the shared bike’s QR code to rent it for the ride over to the next district, and realized I’d left my headphones on my desk. I knew if I went back inside the air conditioning I would not come out again. So I decided to pick up a cheap pair once I got close to my favorite coffee spot and workspace (if you don’t know which one I’m talking about, then I’m guessing you probably don’t follow me on Instagram!).

Fifteen minutes or so later I was searching for any kind of little shop that would sell cheap earbuds. I finally found them in a convenience store… and on the way to the cashier I saw something that would solve a problem I had – a very hot walk from the convenience store to the coffee shop. You see, I could rent a bike again and bike the distance, but I’d still be in the sun most of the way anyway, so I might as well just walk… especially because that was more convenient at this point anyway.

I picked up this shiny little umbrella and inspected it. The label featured a sun rather than a rain cloud. I recognized the shiny material… I’d seen these umbrellas dotting the sidewalk before. Silly me, I’d thought they were regular ol’ umbrellas, just repurposed to block the sun. But no. This umbrella was specially designed to block hot UV rays. So I got it.

I popped that sucker open as soon as I hit the wall of heat outside. And it did keep me several degrees cooler by blocking the sun’s hot rays. Even though it quickly broke (it was very cheap), I still keep it on my backpack if in case I have to walk a bit the rest of the summer. And I will probably buy a new, higher quality one at some point.

Here’s the lesson in all of this:

I was burning slap up with nothing but more heat in my future for the next eight minutes or so. My problem was that my best transportation option from where I was to where I wanted to go was… walking. And yet I knew I was going to feel miserable doing it. I saw something designed exactly to solve the problem I had… it was a specific solution.

– It wasn’t an app telling me I should input my location and hire a car to take me down the road to a place what was within walking distance.

– It wasn’t a fan that I could hold in front of my face as I walked in hopes of staying a half degree more comfortable but not addressing the actual problem of the sun.

– It wasn’t a cold drink promising extra hydration from my time out in the sun.

Instead, it was a product I had not considered buying before, but that clearly explained it was, indeed, the specific solution to my problem.

It spoke to me. It said, “I know you have to walk in the sun. I’m not going to pretend you can avoid it. But look! I can block the hot sunbeams from bearing down on your head so that your walk will be a bit more comfortable. Oh, and if you keep using me, I can help prevent sun damage from all this walking outside…. just saying!”

I don’t care if it blocks rain too or not. It’d be great if it did, but I haven’t bothered trying. I don’t know if a regular umbrella keeps me a few degrees cooler just like this special umbrella does. I haven’t bothered trying that either. Because I have this one that clearly told me it blocks those UV rays. So why go with anything else?

When you have a deep understanding of your customer’s problem and how you can fix it for them, you can be that shiny UV umbrella on a day in the middle of a heat wave too. You can position your brand to be the specific solution your customer (or the cause you’re supporting) desperately needs – and when you do that, they’ll know your brand is perfect for them as soon as they set eyes on it.

Five Business Lessons from My Thailand Vacation

Five Business Lessons from My Thailand Vacation

Sometimes you just gotta get away to somewhere beautiful with delicious food and laid-back vibes. This is exactly what Koh Samui, Thailand was – four days in island paradise. I sat on the beach a bit, explored the island by motorbike a lot, and ate tons of Thai food. And by the time I boarded the plane back to Shanghai, I realized that not only had I vacationed like a total boss, but I’d also learned a few business lessons along the way.

Five Business Lessons from My Thailand Vacation

Set the stage.

From the moment you get off the plane in Koh Samui you’re getting into vacation mode. Instead of deplaning into a nondescript terminal or, worse, a smelly bus, Koh Samui knows how to do it right. Exiting the plane first thing in the morning, I was thrilled to be greeted by one of those open-air zoo train thingies. With the fresh air blowing through my hair, I rode that little train straight to the open-air airport, which I could not have loved more. As we waited to board our departing flight four days later, this same open-air design helped us hang onto those vacation vibes just a little longer.

How can you set the stage for a potential customer?

Create an experience via social media by giving your business a personality and voice alongside strong imagery. Send potential clients a Welcome Kit that gives them a detailed look at what it’s like to work with you. Make a strong connection with your ideal customer by including the information they so badly need on your website.

Five Business Lessons from My Thailand Vacation

If bargaining is the norm, then bargaining is the norm.

One of my favorite activities in Thailand is eating and shopping at the night market. Sadly (or maybe luckily!) Shanghai doesn’t have one. So you better believe I was all in for the two night market opportunities Koh Samui presented me. The rule of thumb for shopping at a night market in Thailand is to bargain over the price. When I find something I like, I visit a few different booths selling that item and bargain with them over it. That helps me figure out what the going rate is… and so I eventually buy the thing from someone.

As business owners, though, it’s such a drain when customers want to bargain with you. It’s not like you can completely avoid it, but you can make sure to position yourself so that it’s less likely they’ll devalue what you bring to the table. It also helps to have a unique factor that keeps your offerings from being viewed as commodities like the shoes and jewelry at the night market.

Tell people what you have to sell.

We arrived in Koh Samui first thing in the morning so breakfast was on my mind like crazy. Breakfast is my favorite meal, y’all. So I was really unhappy to find that we were up waaaay earlier than pretty much everyone else on the island. But then, lo and behold, two women had a fried chicken stand set up on the side of the road. It was so delicious and apparently we were the first non-Thai people to stop by… they even snapped a picture of us. As we were turning to leave, one lady made sure to tell me about the massage place they ran right behind their stand. When I was ready for my Thai massage later that day, guess where I went? Back to that same spot!

Sure, we were buying fried chicken and sticky rice. But they had something else they could offer us later that day, and they made sure to tell us about it. You should do the same, whether in conversation with a current or potential customer, or in something like a Goodbye Kit. Don’t assume that everyone has scoured every word of your website – make sure they know how they can buy from you! Oh, and don’t assume they don’t want what you’re offering. Just tell them about it and let them make their own decisions – don’t decide for them.

Five Business Lessons from My Thailand Vacation

Create exactly what they need.

I try to pack lightly because really, who wants to carry a bunch of luggage around? Not me! But Koh Samui was warm and I sort of ran out of stuff to wear. Luckily, there were laundry shops everywhere. I simply took my dirty clothes to one of them, dropped them off, and picked them up that night. Problem solved.

Once you identify what solutions your target customer needs to solve their problems, create that. Communicate the offering clearly so that they understand exactly what they’re getting, how much it costs, and when they can expect it. If you’re exactly what’s needed in the moment they need it, why would they go anywhere else?

Five Business Lessons from My Thailand Vacation

Differentiation changes the game.

There are many ways to get out on the water in Koh Samui. Heck, you can even get above the waves on one of those crazy water rocket things. Want to see beautiful islands and undersea life? You’ve got a few options… in fact, it might seem like the market is completely saturated with options. We asked our Airbnb host which island tour and snorkeling trip we should do… and he shared two companies with us. We chose the premium one – it was double the price as the other experience, but it was guaranteed not to disappoint. Crazily enough, it felt like a no-brainer.

Do you find yourself tripped up by the fact that you’re offering the same deliverables as someone else? Well… these boats were too. On both trips, we would see the islands and go snorkeling. The differentiation was in the experience of getting those deliverables. If you create a premium experience with unique or extra value, you can charge more for the same deliverables.

Have you ever gone on vacation and learned something about business? Tell me about it over on Facebook or Instagram!

Five Business Lessons from My Thailand Vacation