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The 7 Pink Goldfish: Standing Out in a Sea of Sameness

The 7 Pink Goldfish:  Standing Out in a Sea of Sameness

Image by Coyle Studios via AMA Baltimore

In an earlier post, we introduced you to Stan Phelps, customer experience and engagement expert. Recently, he spoke to StarChapter about understanding and embracing what makes one organization different from another and how organizations can and should use these differences to stand out and grow.

Phelps says there are two keys to being different:

  1. Embrace your “weirdness.” Instead of hiding your differences or limitations, be ok with sharing them.
  2. Avoid being normal. Instead of trying to be like everyone else, attract growth by standing out using your differences.

In research with 300 companies, Phelps and his co-author Dave Randall discovered seven primary ways organizations stand out; they call these the “7 Types of Pink Goldfish,” and they use the acronym F.L.A.W.S.O.M. (There is no E.) If you’re looking for ways to make people fall back in love with your organization, or if you’re trying to attract new members, try implementing one or all seven.

Flaunting:  Phelps says this is the cornerstone of standing out. How can you flaunt your positives or even your weaknesses? Do you let guests attend three free events? Take payment electronically? Share that. Or, is your budget tight, and instead of hiring paid speakers, your members are your speakers? Put that out there and attract those looking to share their message with your membership.

Lopsiding:  Don’t hide what makes your organization unique. Take the Nebraska Tourism Board, which developed a campaign with some of the slightly odd things to do in Nebraska, including floating down a river in a livestock tank. Their ad “In Nebraska we only believe that boring people get bored, so we invented our own fun,” brought in visitors looking for a different kind of adventure. Is your membership small? That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Show how the size of your organization makes it feel like a family who looks out for and supports each other.

Antagonizing:  As important as it is to understand your target market, it’s just as important to know who you’re not interested in. Gently “poking” this group can engage your target and attract them to what you offer. Tell those interested in keeping things status quo, like attending the same boring educational seminars and the same “business card-in-one-hand, glass-of-wine-in-the-other” networking events that there’s need for them to join your organization.

Withholding:  This is the opposite of lopsiding. Here, you’re purposely taking away the things other organizations see as normal. Think about Black Friday. As a retailer, how do you compete? Open earlier, offer better sales? Or, should you be like REI and close on Black Friday, which includes shutting down their website, so associates can be with their families. What if you provided all the tools and benefits your members could want, like networking, education, and vendor discounts, and never held a single in person meeting or event, giving back to members some of the time they so desperately need.

Swerving:  Phelps avoided defining swerving, which made us want to learn more. This technique is used in sales and encompasses the idea of not providing all the details needed to make a decision. What can you leave out of a conversation to draw people in and get them to contact you? You could talk about the value members get for coming to meetings or referring others but mention them in generalities and ask that people contact you for details.

Opposing:  Sometimes the opposite of a good thing can be another good thing. Much information is shared, and a lot is learned when members and guests come together at structured meetings and conferences. Consider an “unconference.”  Set a date and place, and have a flexible, almost agendaless agenda. Let attendees determine the topics and occurrences and watch great things happen organically.

Micro Weirding:  What are some fast, little things you can do to show how unique and different your organization is? Think about the events you hold. What can you do at your next meeting, which will be remembered, talked about, and shared? Have a micro-volunteering program that allows people to engage with the organization on their time schedule? Talk that up.

These are all strong ways to create a sense of urgency, drive members to get more involved, and attract those considering joining your organization. In the near future we’ll be sharing more information from Phelps on creating your own pink goldfish.


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