It’s a question you’ve probably pondered more than once.

Maybe you’ve created a unique logo and website – but doesn’t everyone say that?

Maybe you make a bold promise about your results – like all your competitors do.

You might pride yourself on your passion and commitment to your clients – which sounds awfully familiar in your industry.

If being different is the same thing everyone is trying to do, how do you actually be different?

Here are four principles to get you standing out from the crowd.

1. You can’t be different in a crowded market, it’s just too noisy; but you can be special in the mind of an individual.

Inside the mind of an individual, you could be seen as special, innovative or great value compared to anything else they’ve seen. In your mind, your best friend is different to everyone else’s best friend. If I ask you why, you might not be able to give me a meaty answer.

 Being different isn’t about how you show up in your market; it’s about how you show up in the mind of an individual.

2. Very few businesses or people seem special or different at first glance. 

Research says it takes 7 hours of attention for a person to really see you as special or unique and to form a bond. They could read your book, your blog, watch your videos online or read your tweets. They could attend a live event or listen to a podcast you’ve created.

Right now today, do you have a total of 7 hours of content available for me to find?

If you don’t have enough digital content, you get stuck trying to build a bond through face-to-face meetings.

3. Don’t send conflicting messages.

If people get a conflicting message about who you are or what you do, the clock resets and the person needs another 7 hours of consistent and coherent information before they will bond with you.

For example, if a person is watching hours of videos on YouTube where you are talking about your career as a dentist and then they start reading a blog about your opinions on fashion (without any explanation) they will get confused and it will “reset the clock”.

This doesn’t mean you can’t change what you do; it means you have to share the story with people about why you changed and what you took from your old profession into your new one. You need the narrative to make sense or people will struggle to connect with you.

4.If you get it right, your business grows and becomes more profitable.

If your message is laser sharp, if your content is valuable, if you are seen as credible, and you are crystal clear then you’re in the game. More people will see you as different. You will bond with more people. You’ll be trusted by more people. You will get more customers, make more money, and spend less time chasing clients. You’ll find yourself oversubscribed and choosing who you work with.

Your content will support your sales process so sales meetings will seem effortless. Your content will attract a higher-quality client who’s better educated about your offering, so looking after clients will be easier. Your business will require less energy from you.