How Do You Differentiate Yourself?

This weekend as I was doing my usual skimming through various personal finance blogs on the internet a thought popped into my head: “How do I differentiate my blog from the others? How can I make my blog stand out?” Those simple questions brought me back to my graduate school days where I learned about business strategy, marketing, accounting and much more. I plugged in my old portable hard drive and started looking through some of my old class notes (my husband went golfing this Sunday, so I had some free time on my hands). That’s when I came across my notes on the book “What’s Your Purple Goldfish” by Stan Phelps and Drew McLellan (great book, highly recommend it!)

I know what many of you are thinking and no, this is not a children’s book! This book is about marketing a company’s products or services. While I read the book, I was also fortunate enough to meet the author himself in graduate school and learn not only about where he got the idea to write the book, but also how effective the technique he discusses in his book actually is. The key term and concept that Stand and Drew discuss in the book is something called marketing lagniappe (pronounced lan yap). Rather than providing a summary of the book I will cut to the chase. According to Phelps and McLellan, lagniappe is defined as the merchant giving a little something extra at the time of purchase. The book goes through a number of different examples across a wide range of industries and provides the results generated from marketing lagniappe.

Flipping through my notes got me thinking about the businesses in my area. Are any of them following this type of marketing to get or retain customers? A number of businesses came to mind once I started to thinking about all the local ones in my area. For example, there is a local car garage in my town that offers a free car wash with an oil change. The price for the oil change is in line with its chain competitors, with the added bonus of picking your car up nice and clean! I had never thought of it before, but there it was right in front of my eyes.  Once I thought of one, I couldn’t stop thinking about them. The bagel shop down the road offers a free coffee and a bagel after 10 purchases at the store. The barber offers men a free shave with a haircut. The examples didn’t stop there. Have you ever been to Ikea? If so, you know they provide food and childcare for all their shoppers. These are all things that I overlooked before until I stopped and took a minute to think about it. Each of these businesses or companies is doing something a little extra to differentiate themselves from the competition and each is winning in their market.

I realized that us bloggers are doing the same thing. Many of us are offering advice on retirement, savings, investing, achieving FIRE, etc. to our readers. Each of our thoughts, opinions and spin on certain strategies and tips makes us unique and help us differentiate ourselves, though. Some bloggers also offer free templates to use for things like budgeting, saving or even investing. When I started my blog a few months ago, my goal was to help younger people become better with money. To be completely honest, I didn’t know where I would fit in with so many amazing personal finance bloggers out there. I won’t attempt to name them here, but if I follow you on Twitter, Instagram or comment on your posts you know who you are!

So how am I am going to differentiate myself? I thought of a few ways. One is to help people (if they are interested) with mutual bank investments. After posting my returns on my most recent mutual investment, a number of people have reached out asking how it works and how they can get started. If you subscribe to my newsletters, you know that I have been and will be sending a new mutual bank to readers every month.  I know this isn’t for everyone, so I want to do something more. Another way to diversify is to make my blog more interactive. I don’t know exactly how I am going to do that yet, but a few thoughts did pop into my head. My thinking is that if you are coming to my site to read about a topic or article, and you don’t feel like leaving a comment, maybe I can get your thoughts or feedback or interact in a different way. Again, still haven’t quite figured out a plan, but I’m hoping something comes to me in time.

What do you think, does marketing lagniappe work? If so, do you have any examples of it at work? And as Stan Phelps would say, “what’s your purple goldfish”?

15 thoughts on “How Do You Differentiate Yourself?

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  1. I have to admit that I haven’t quite found my niche yet but I enjoy writing and it’s been fun for me 🙂

    I do need to reread through your bank investment posts. I remember telling a friend about that and we discussed looking further into it. But I unfortunately haven’t done anything 🙁 Thanks for the reminder 🙂

    1. I don’t have a niche quite yet either, but I’m enjoying myself also and really that’s what matters most! Haha glad it struck a cord even if you don’t remember. Thankfully the internet never forgets so you can always go back 😜

  2. That is the question isn’t it? With the FI community getting so big in the past few years with new blogs popping up every day, it is hard to find a way to differentiate yourself. Everyone has different goals too with their blogs. Guess as long as you are having fun with it, that’s all that counts.

    1. I agree! There are some niche blogs, which is great, but I love the idea of general finance with lots of different concepts and I feel like it makes it that much harder to stand out!

  3. I’m painfully honest – until this month my tagline was ‘oversharing about feelings and finances’. I’ve tweaked it to ‘real talk about money and life’, but honesty and transparency, getting into things that we’re often too scared to bring up, seems to be the thing people know me for.

    1. I love that! I’m definitely going to have to keep checking out your blog. I’m all about the honesty and transparency. I think it’s refreshing to be so open and talk about things that scare people!

      1. I like having my name out there because it adds to the transparency in my opinion, for my blog that is. Obviously everyone has a different strategy for their own, which is great.

        1. Oh, I was multi-tasking when I wrote that, so I think what I meant got misconstrued. I meant that NZ Muse’s branding is so strong, she could remove her name from a blog post and everyone would still know she wrote it.

          And I agree with you that adding a real name to your blog/comments helps to put a face/personality to it, unless you’re anon.

  4. I just opened my Twitter account and MAN there are so many other FI bloggers out there – had no idea. I don’t really know what my niche is and with so many out there it would be hard to be distinctive. I’m not worried about it though. Right now I like writing to help others but honestly it helps me learn too in writing things out. It would be nice to offer something extra and it does help people become more interested. I love getting free samples of things anyway. Recently I was at Smoothie King and got big free samples of their new Peanut Butter and Chocolate smoothie 🙂

    1. I’m also a big sucker for free or discounted things myself! I feel the same. I’m not entirely sure what my niche is yet, but I’m enjoying the journey and learning so much!

  5. I always feel torn. I really, really want to write my thoughts about blogging, but then I think, my target audience is actually the non-blogger. So that guides what I write about.

    Ways I differentiate:
    -I remember brainstorming names and I made sure to NOT to have a money-themed name.
    -As I mentioned before, it seems like most people’s audience is other bloggers. Mine isn’t. So sometimes I feel like I’m off on my own little island, with no real template for what to do!

    I also feel like I’ve been doing things much more slowly than others, in terms of marketing. Maybe I’m a terrible marketer. I’m only focusing on one social media network at a time. I don’t like Facebook in real life, so I’m not doing it. And for Pinterest I’m probably only going to pin stuff I like. I don’t have any free downloads or anything yet. I want to make sure I offer a lot of free value to readers first. I’d rather have 100 awesome, real fans, than 10,000 unengaged fans. But yeah, it’s hard to see other’s people’s numbers and successes and not compare.

  6. I think your name is one of your biggest stand-out points, Luxe (because this is your first name in my head lol). Having a name that doesn’t have some sort of financial theme gives you a lot more flexibility in what you write, which is very nice.

    As you know, I struggle with what to post on my blog’s Instagram for that reason. I feel like everything has to be money related and I don’t know how to turn all that into pictures, necessarily. However, as I mentioned in my other reply above, my strategy is to be more personable by putting my name and picture out there, so I’m thinking my Instagram can be more insight into my life.

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