My last corporate job was at Deloitte. Did we think the other global consultancies were our competitors? Absolutely! And it was true.

The smaller firms with lower overhead who could undercut our pricing were also our competitors.

As a small business owner, you may be tempted to adopt this mindset. While it’s good to know who else is playing in your target market, I want to point out that you may be ignoring your REAL competition.

Your real competition is 9 seconds.

I’ve also seen 7 or 8 seconds referenced, but this range is the average person’s attention span these days. The same attention span as a goldfish, says marketing expert Sally Hogshead.

So, as you’re agonizing over tiny changes to your website or marketing copy or background photo on your Facebook business page, what you really ought to be worrying about is being boring.

Boring is forgettable.

Boring doesn’t get referrals.

Boring doesn’t inspire someone to click on the Buy Now button.

Standing out above the noise so that a prospective buyer actually takes notice of your information is what you need to concentrate on.

Does that mean you have to be brash and bold? Only if it’s in brand for your business. Being loud and snarky with in-your-face content works really well for some entrepreneurs.

Quiet and classy can work, too, if that would appeal to your prospect.

Carol manages to do both, be classy and still serve up some snarky straight talk. Here’s a great example of a recent video she posted on LinkedIn about how to say no to things you don’t want to do.

I tend to be “appropriately irreverent” and poke fun at uncomfortable things. People laugh, get good information, and remember me. I’m a big goofball. But, I am also very compassionate. That’s my brand.

Everything you put into the world about you and your business needs to be evaluated before it’s released. You should ask yourself two questions:

1. Would the reader care about this? (They’re asking themselves, “Why should I care?” when they look at your stuff.)

2. Is it boring? (If you’re bored writing it, they’ll be bored reading it. And, if it’s really boring, they won’t see it at all.)

Learn everything you can about your ideal clients or customers. Learn what they love, what they fear, what they want, what they’re stressed out about – everything.

Use this understanding to develop messaging and content that cuts though the noise and stands out to your people. Do this and your business will grow.

Remember, you don’t need to try to appeal to everyone – just your people.

But whatever you do, please don’t be boring.