Business Strategies Aren’t One Size Fits All

Image of MannequinWhen was the last time you spent a fistful of money on clothes at the mall?

Prices are ridiculous there nowadays but I went anyway. See, I had a couple gift certificates for the local mall from last Christmas, and my recent birthday, so I decided to combine them and go on a spree.

I’m a guy but I’d like to think I have some fashion sense. But when you’re in a store do you ever study the mannequins all dressed up in something snazzy?

You get all charged up and when you try on that exact ensemble have you just looked like a mess? Sometimes I try to mimic their outfits and I look like I’m trying too hard to be something I’m not.

It doesn’t work for me.

Tools for THEIR business…

…May not work for yours. Let me explain. Just as clothes and shoes fit everyone differently (ah..isn’t being unique the spice of life?), business strategies, tools, and practices have different effects in all markets.

Advertising on Facebook may work great for “them” but not you.

Having a Facebook Page may convert Likes into opt-ins and sales like crazy for “them” but it falls flat for you.

That killer copy or sales page that works for so-and-so was an epic fail as a template for your product.

What gives?

  • Each product, service, and seller environment is different
  • Target audiences differ and where they shop and how/why they buy differ
  • Selling in a voice not your own can alienate your audience and diminish trust and sales
  • When you mimic another business you bend and warp your content and imagery to match an image you didn’t create. Your authenticity takes a hit here.

Tools for your business

It isn’t about abandoning all the business ideas you have to chase the guru advice of someone else.

It isn’t about ignoring those who have had success in similar markets with similar products.

It’s about striking a balance between your genuine voice and processes and exercising discretion when importing small (but proven) elements from others’ strategies into your business.

What works for you

Finally, what works for you won’t necessarily work for others. Quality business strategies are rarely one size fits all. There have been plenty of times I’ve tried using a page layout, similar wording online or tried an offline venture to earn some side money that didn’t pan out.

When it didn’t work out, I brushed off and kept moving.

The things you do try: test, test, test.  Count on trial and error rather than miracle formulas or cut and paste instructions that “look good” when and where you saw them.

Just remember my lousy experience trying to model after mannequins ;)

Have you tried something another successful business owner was doing only to have lackluster results? Ever try to copy a sales letter, pricing or advertisement that you swore should have worked but didn’t?

Photo: horiavarlan

22 Responses to Business Strategies Aren’t One Size Fits All
  1. Aaron Andrews
    June 15, 2011 | 9:46 pm

    Thanks Jon, I really needed this. I think a lot of us overlook authenticity when taking on projects for the fact that we are focusing so much on succeeding. I know I have done it a couple times with websites I created in the past (I no longer have them). I think when we do what works for us, it’s easier to fall in love with what you are creating because it comes straight from you.

    Thanks again!

    • Jon
      June 15, 2011 | 9:53 pm

      Hi Aaron and welcome…

      When it comes straight from you it will be unique. Sure it’s competitive out there. Sure there is a lot of noise and prescriptive advice coming from every direction. But you have to stay as true to yourself as possible. You may develop new passions along the way and find processes that align well with you. Outright copying “what works” isn’t the ticket.

      Thank you for sharing.

  2. A. Leigh Edwards
    June 16, 2011 | 7:40 am


    “What works for you…” is definitely the name of the game. I believe when learning, you must ‘model’ -vs- copy something that catches your interest first in an effort to tweet your processes down to the science of ‘knowing’ what actually works best for you.

    • Jon
      June 20, 2011 | 9:00 pm

      “You must ‘model’ -vs- copy” PERFECT! Yes, you said it better than I did, thank you.

  3. Adrienne
    June 16, 2011 | 1:28 pm

    Yes, yes and yes again. I love the shopping example Jon because I’m the same way. Okay, nicely put… I’m shaped differently so the clothes on everyone else looks horrible on me. Plain and simple.

    There have been many times I’ve tried doing what I was taught and it just never worked for me. Here I am over here scratching my head wondering why. It worked for them, why not me?

    I wish there was some type of course for the different personality types. You know, if you are like this than this works best, etc. Wish business worked that way.

    Ah, what a great reminder that I’m not crazy. I’m not the only person this has ever happened to. Thanks so much for that refresher course.

    Hope you are enjoying your day! Oh, and I owe you an email! Stay tuned…


    • Jon
      June 20, 2011 | 9:07 pm

      Haha! Okay, I knew I wouldn’t be alone with the shopping example. I need to have my own mannequin sculpted so I have a more accurate picture of what the outfit will look like :)

      You aren’t alone wishing there was that big bow, gift-wrapped course tailor-made for you and I to knock our next venture out of the park. -sigh- Back to reality, let’s roll up our sleeves and git-r-done.

  4. Martin Dale
    June 16, 2011 | 7:49 pm

    What comes to me loud and clear in this message, is the necessity of finding and using our unique voice in business. Trying to be someone else, rarely works. It sounds hype-y, and aggressive.

    However, when operate from the basis of who we really are, (our voice), it is much more attractive to clients and potential business partners. It helps us stand out from the crowd, in an already crowded industry.

    Great topic,
    Martin Dale

    • Jon
      June 20, 2011 | 9:09 pm

      Right on, Martin. Copy cats only last so long out there before they’re found out or drown out. Be creative and by being yourself you’re automatically one-of-a-kind. Why water that down?

      Great to have you here, Martin.

  5. marquita herald
    June 16, 2011 | 8:14 pm

    Hi Jon,
    Have to tell you your article was truly refreshing! I’ve read article after article by people telling readers that if they don’t do this or do that they are “failing miserable” or “throwing business away” and it just makes me crazy. Thanks for the read read!

    • Jon
      June 20, 2011 | 9:10 pm

      You’re quite welcome :) A little bit of sincerity goes a long way, wouldn’t you agree?

  6. Oliver Tausend
    June 17, 2011 | 7:56 am

    Hi Jon,

    I definitely can resonate with your shopping example, lol. And your observation is as true as your conclusion: There’s no such thing as one size fits all. There are certainly some guidelines that fit for all, but we have do adjust them to our individual situation and needs. That’s why: No need to follow any guru and buy their one-size-fits all programmes.

    Thanks for sharing your insights.

    Take care


    • Jon
      June 20, 2011 | 9:14 pm

      Hi Oliver,

      Heheh I’m glad another man has expressed the same issues with shopping.

      Yes – there are guidelines that fit for all and with a little adjustment they work great. Great input, thanks.

  7. Stacy
    June 17, 2011 | 10:29 am

    Hi Jon,

    This is very true, what works for one person’s business isn’t going to work for everyone’s business. Trying to fit into someone else’s clothes is a great example of this! We really need to figure out what works for us, for our business, for our target market.


    • Jon
      June 20, 2011 | 9:15 pm


      It’s a fun journey though, I like the challenges and hope you appreciate them as well.

  8. Tosin
    June 17, 2011 | 12:40 pm

    Hey Jon,

    You hit it on the head with this!

    Unfortunately not many people are willing to tell people that due to the fear of losing business but like you said what worked for you may not work for them for different reasons.

    I guess it has to do with integrity of heart.

    Thanks for this, JOn!

    • Jon
      June 20, 2011 | 9:17 pm

      While I understand they have to earn a profit, it shouldn’t be at the expense of others. We’ll keep our integrity in check, deal?

  9. Sarah Russell
    June 17, 2011 | 1:28 pm

    Hahaha – I’ve totally done that with store mannequins… How can they be that much more stylish than me?!?!

    But really, the bigger issue here is actually figuring out what works for your business. It is *so* much easier to just implement, by rote, what some guru or blog tells you to do. Actually digging down into your stats and understanding user behaviors? Way more complicated and time consuming!

    Of course, this is just another one of those situations where taking the easy way out usually doesn’t pay off in the end. Putting in the time to understand your business might be more work, but it’s worth it at the end of the day.

    • Jon
      June 20, 2011 | 9:20 pm

      It’s a sad day in America when the mannequin outshines me. Not cool, mannequin. Not cool.

      You used the four-letter word “work.” That’s just it, copy and paste is easy. Doing the research (which is free in most cases) to analyze what you’re doing right/wrong and what your visitors are doing just takes a time investment.

  10. Hi Jon,

    Sounds like fishing to me. There are certain ways that are kind of universal that catch fish, but when they don’t work, you have to improvise, trying different lures, scents, colors, baits,etc. Whatever catches fish is good as far as I’m concerned.


    • Jon
      June 20, 2011 | 9:22 pm

      Fantastic analogy, Lou. I’m not a fisherman but I can definitely see where you’re coming from with that one. Thanks for your spin on this concept!

  11. Extreme John
    June 18, 2011 | 10:38 pm

    Impressive logic Jon. When I have just read the headline, I already got your point and I’m impressed with how you exemplified your experience with the mannequin. Just like what the Lean Launchpad course that I have come across a while ago teaches, we have to make hypothesis with our business strategies and test this hypothesis. If the hypothesis fails, it’s a good thing than already doing the strategy and failing at the end.

    • Jon
      June 20, 2011 | 9:24 pm

      Test, test, test…right? It sounds like you’ve retained and applied what you’ve learned from the course. That’s a big credit to you because it seems we’re quick to buy up programs but slow to implement :)

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