Fear of standing out. Of looking different. Of being laughed at.
That, I believe, is the source of most of the bland, uninspired websites and videos and other tactics we see.
Several years ago I was working with a small law firm. The newer, younger attorneys wanted to step up the firm’s marketing efforts — meaning, they wanted to start marketing the firm. At that point, they didn’t even have a website.
They had a good reputation among their clients, yes, but most of that came about through relationships with the senior, founding partners. And they were naturally concerned that when those guys retired, the firm would be left without a platform to stand on.
The young guys were really excited. They felt that the firm had something truly unique to say about service and attention that would stand out in the marketplace. They wanted a bold new approach — a unique identity that would carry them forward after the founders had moved on.
So I went about interviewing the partners and their clients and put together a message platform and worked on a website and marketing materials and they loved it. At first. Then the senior guys got nervous. They wondered if it was too much. They even wondered why they needed a website at all.
So they chipped away at the copy, softening the edges and loading it up with the same tired old empty buzzwords everybody uses, like “solution-oriented” and “quality service” and “personal attention.” It all came to a head when, frustrated at, I suppose, the pace of regress they were making, one of the top guys suggested I go to their competitors’ websites and lift language from there.
It was clear that the relationship wasn’t working and we agreed to part ways. One of very, very few client engagements that did not work out successfully.
In the end, they were not ready. Instead of standing out, they wanted to fit in. They sought the comfort of looking and acting like everyone else. They didn’t want to be the pink shirt in the crowd.