Q: How do you stay focused on sharing your own vision, without being overly influenced by what others are doing? And how do you stand out in a crowd and communicate why your vision differs from any of the other options?
A: I think you’ve asked and answered your own question! The best way to stand out in a crowd is to do exactly what you suggest – focus on your own vision. I think where your sense of overwhelm stems from is the amount of all manner of influences and stimulants, visual and otherwise, we are constantly bombarded with. Combine that with the pressure of the need to be original. I encourage you to first of all let go of the idea of originality as something that is mystical, or pressures you. Shocking, huh! The thing is, everything has been done before, and at the core, the human experience has changed very little. We take influences from everywhere, and that’s perfectly fine. In fact, I encourage you to embrace all the things that speak to you and inspire you: see, read, watch, borrow, play. Where so called originality lies, is in taking those different influences and arranging them in a way that rings most through to your soul. One tip though, I urge you to do your creative gathering in other fields than your own, focusing too narrowly on what your industry peers are doing has a tendency of closing down your creative ideas, instead of helping to spark new ones.
When it comes to standing out in a crowd and attracting clients who understand and appreciate what you do, below are the top three guidelines I’ve found crucial.
1. Know who you are talking to.
Communicating your point of view starts from knowing who you are communicating to. Figure out who your client is, and talk directly to them. Bare your soul, either by directly sharing the experiences that led you here, or through stories and analogy. Make your ideal clients understand what drives you. Let them picture what an experience with you would feel like and show them the value of what you do and the way you see and arrange the world. The only way to be unique is to stay honest to yourself and to what makes you tick, not just with your art but all the aspects of your business.
2. Believe in your own vision.
There’s a place for humility, but when it comes to your ideas or your craft, stand behind it proudly. No-one will be excited about what you do, if you’re not excited by it. We have an ego for a reason, and in this context the job of the ego is to show others why what you do is special. No-one else is going to do it for you. Having an ego doesn’t have to take away from your kindness.
3. Stop thinking of what you do as a commodity.
If you try to compete with competence, there’s nothing to stop others becoming more competent. Rely on your creativity and your unique point of view, on coming up with ways to do things differently based on who you are. Can you structure your services in a way no-one else does? Can you offer an experience unique to you? Can you create a marketing campaign in a way that it feels like art rather than marketing? You have the advantage of already knowing how to apply your creativity when it comes to your craft, learn to apply your creativity to the way you run and market your business. Be a constant learner, a constant innovator. We all have the same tools at our disposal, what matters is how we use them.