#Authority2015: Why Different Is Better Than Better

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Sequels often fall short, but the second day of Authority Rainmaker brought a round of communication insights as equally as amazing as those from day one.

Day two featured industry luminaries—including Joe Pulizzi, Scott Stratten and Danny Sullivan—and punk music legend business DIY-er Henry Rollins who covered everything from content to email to search to testing to passion.

All of the insights, analysis and takeaways won’t fit in one blog post, but we will have a more thorough breakdown of day two on the blog shortly. For now, let’s focus on Sally Hogshead.

Sally began her morning presentation by sharing a shot of the wince-inducing yet popular liquor Jaegermeister with an attendee. Unlike most drinks, this shot contained a lesson for communicators: different is better than better.

Sally spent her morning keynote demonstrating that what makes us different is the best foot that we should put forward. Here are some of her insights.

Be your best self

Often we attempt to mimic traits of the most successful people because we want to have similar success, but that won’t always work.

“The thing about you that makes you different is why people love you and why they champion for you and befriend you,” Sally says.

We each have different strengths, weaknesses and abilities. Instead of trying to be someone else, we should aim to highlight our strengths and minimize our weaknesses.

Sally has even developed an assessment of the type of person you are, which you can access here. (Use the code Copyblogger.)

What would your friends, family, co-workers and boss who gave you the best performance review you’ve ever received say are your best assets? Understanding how the world sees you at your best shows what differentiates you.

“High performers have a specialty of some kind. They’re not trying to be all things to all people,” Sally says. “The greatest way to empower someone is to show them their highest value.”

Creativity is the ultimate technology

Creativity - Ultimate Technology - Sally Hogshead

To succeed in communication, you either need the biggest budget (so you can hammer your message) or to be the most fascinating. Since few businesses have the resources to spend the most, fascination is often a great way to go.

When you can give a brand the perfect words to describe itself, the brand becomes more loved, valuable and can charge more, Sally says.

Often, communicators attempt to create messaging or content that grabs a large audience and will sacrifice originality and tone to appeal to everyone. Sally suggests making your messaging a little polarizing.

Creating highly polarizing messaging will only turn off the people who already aren’t going to work with you and will inspire and attract the types of customers you consider your best clients.

“When you are completely authentic in your career, don’t try to be something you’re not,” Sally says. “Focus on what you’re already doing right, it makes it easy to have the right people work with you.”

Focus on brand authenticity

Businesses can get so caught up in competing with other businesses that they forget to focus on their own strengths.

Instead of working to outdo someone else at their own game, customize your message to the people you most want to work with and don’t worry about the rest.

“Competition is a brutal way to make a living,” Sally says. “Clients don’t hire you because you’re balanced, they hire you because you’re extraordinary in some way.”

Overcome threats to communication

3 Threats to Communication

As Sally sees it, communicators have to overcome three threats to communication: distraction, competition and commoditization.


The average attention span has shortened from 20 minutes to 9 seconds. When communicating, it can help to think of your audience as a goldfish, Sally says.


People who sort of care don’t change the world, and sort of creative content doesn’t drive results. Use your fascination advantage (what differentiates you) to add distinct value with your communication.


If you position yourself as a commodity, you can charge a lower price attracting more customers. However, if you position yourself as a specialist, you can charge a higher price. The question is what’s your specialty.

Create an anthem

“If you can take your competitor’s copy and put it with your brand, you haven’t differentiated yourself enough,” Sally says.

How is your product or service different? What does it do best? These may seem like simple questions, but they can be difficult to answer.

Sally created a simple formula to help. Finish this sentence with an adjective that describes how you’re different and a noun that describes what you do best: My distinct value is my ability to deliver (adjective) (noun).

For example, Rolex may use the adjective “high-performance” and the noun “luxury.” Brooks Brothers, on the other hand, might use “traditional” as the adjective and “classics” as the noun.

Determining your noun and adjective will help differentiate your brand from the marketplace in your communication.

 Want to show whats you different? Start with content. Click here to get our free white paper filled with outside-the-box content ideas!

About Brian Conlin

Brian Conlin is a content marketing manager for Cision. A former journalist, he enjoys researching and developing accessible content. When not writing, you will find him watching baseball and college basketball, sampling craft beer and enjoying Baltimore. Find him on Twitter @BrianConlin13.

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