Be Unique

Be Unique

A client told me this story just the other day, and it really brought home again to me the importance of being unique. Take note, I say unique, not different. He was travelling in Beijing on business, and peered into a tea shop. Now, tea shops can be found on just about every other street in China. So, peering into a specialised tea shop in Beijing, you would expect to see racks of teabags behind a glass counter. They didn’t have any of that.

Instead, there were three people drinking tea under the glow of a warm yellow light. They were chatting around an irregularly shaped wooden table that looked like it had been taken straight from the set of The Hobbit. The table had teapots and cups of different shapes and sizes. Off to the side was a wooden shelf with teapots of different styles.

Noticing my client, they invited him to sit down with them for a cup of tea, which he gladly did. The two men and woman at the table seemed like ordinary folk from the neighbourhood enjoying tea and a chat. My client didn’t receive a sales pitch at all, he simply received a cup of Oolong tea. He remembers that it seemed quite different to other tea he has had and that it felt smooth and relaxing.

So, he started asking about the array of teapots and cups on the table. The man showed how he used them. Pointing to the tiny cracks on the sides of the cups he said, “Only good china shows such cracks as it ages over the years. You don’t see these on low quality ones.” My client felt like he was in a scene from an old martial arts movie, receiving aged old wisdom from a sensei.

He spent all of 20 minutes there, and sure enough, left with a couple bags of Oolong tea. As he left, the owner presented him with a leaf-shaped business card on the bottom of which was a QR code. The QR code is like the password to Aladdin’s cave. Scan it with your phone, and you get taken to their online store on the WeChat platform to be greeted with a message that says “Welcome! We have been waiting for you for so long.” To this day when I brew tea, I get taken back to my time in that shop.

Even seemingly mundane industries or niches can be made interesting if you are willing to find something unique you can bring to the table.

HOW TO APPLY THIS TO YOUR BUSINESS

Begin by looking at what your audience is after, and focus on what they want, need, and like. Then, look at yourself. What about your work and your personality will connect with your audience? Once you’ve identified those qualities, lean into them, making them into a unique style that conveys who you are. Use that style like a wrapper around everything you do, consistently signalling to your audience that uniqueness that makes you a one-of-a-kind authority.

Does anyone else have any cool ideas on how to showcase unique qualities in your business?


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