March-ing to the Beat of Your Own Drummer

Familiar things are comfortable things. We wear the same, worn t-shirt. We eat at the same restaurants. We choose movies and books that are similar to the ones we’ve enjoyed in the past. With the ‘same’ and ‘similar’ we know what we’re getting, so there’s less of a chance of wasting our money on food that’s too spicy or a movie that’s too scary.

When a customer visits your online store for the first time, sameness will make them feel at home. They intuitively know to click on the store to shop or image for more detail. They know what a bracelet is and they can imagine how it feels if you tell them it’s made of glass. This is a good thing. Right?

But imagine if you visited an online store and the pictures were all upside down. Instead of bracelets, they were selling Whoziwazzis in shades of sluberack and ziptoad. Would you run from the madness or stay and click around?

There are those who wouldn’t stand for such nonsense. They’d click away instantly and head for the safety of At Amazon, you know what you’re getting when you shop for a book, a DVD or a pair of shoes. But I think that most of you, creative souls that you are, would stay and play the game.

I’d bet that a few of you, would even order a Whoziwazzis in light sluberack, just to see what it is and what it does.

Now, let’s turn the tables. You’re a creative, adventurous soul; are you showing that side of yourself in your online store? Are you selling handmade, strawberry soap or strawberry slivers, hand-carved by fruit elves? Is that wooden bowl just a wooden bowl? Or did it come from a tree that shaded a future President in his youth?

Try this: pick one item in your store and write the most outlandish, fanciful description you can think of. Make up a new name for the color and the materials. Give it a crazy history or magical attribute. Don’t let reason and commonality slow you down. Go wild. If that’s too hard, ask yourself, how would Dr. Seuss describe this thing? How would Tolkien describe this thing? Get out of your own head and let it flow.

This isn’t for real (unless you want it to be), it’s just an exercise to show you how much room there is between safe and crazy. Ultimately, what you’re looking for is a spot somewhere in the middle or more to the right if you’re a very adventurous sort. Take what you’ve written and then dial it back a notch or two, or three until you find a level of you’re comfortable with. If that’s just a hair above safe, then that’s good enough – for now. Keep pushing. Keep dreaming. When you’re ready, add that dash of crazy to your online store.

 It may seem like the world rewards those who fall predictably in line, but the people who succeed beyond our wildest dreams, are those who not only march to the beat of their own drummer, they also create their own drum.


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