As a small business person and "solo-preneur" there is a lot of time spent on marketing, and the more one tends to resemble others, the harder it is to get noticed. I have found that it is easy for people to categorize (it makes life easy), and once you are seen as a commodity it is hard as hell to claw you way out.
The meetings industry struggles with this issue of conformity vs unique in planning and organizing conferences. There is much talk about wanting fresh meeting formats, audience-focused learning experiences, interactive speakers, etc.... but too often you see each meeting being a cookie cutter product patterned off the last event.
It is hard to stand out as it involves talking risks. In any industry trying new things means the possibility of failure. People are always watching and judging. Nobody wants to flop, so they make their product similar to other offerings. But the "same-old/same-old" is never a breakout success.
Those who speak at meetings find the same issues. While brainstorming career ideas with a new speaker I found that all his concepts were just Tony Robbins Lite. His "clever" ideas sounded like they came from a manual called "Motivational Speaker 101" (if there was such a thing). I kept asking him why HE was unique and what HE brought to his topic that nobody else could provide. It was hard for him to discover a voice that was truly his own.
It made me wonder if I do enough to be unique. I am a basic guy who spent much of my youth wanting to fit with the "in-crowd" (I never did, exactly). It is a hard to stop the effort to be like others and forge your own way in the world. Switching directions is difficult, but worth it. Having left the corporate world four years ago to work for myself I have discovered there is no one way to craft a successful life. There were (and still are) many people who told me I could not make it as a solo-entrepreneur with a business of speaking, training, and consulting. I have continued to move forward and lay out a career that is not like everyone else. I continue to seek ways to provide my clients with an experience they cannot get from anyone else (and that is rewarding and impactful!).
Those who are special stand out from the crowd and are remembered by others. This does not necessarily mean being weird or on the fringe, it just means having offerings that cannot be obtained when a prospect selects another option. To go with a different choice means they have to consciously forgo what you bring. This does not mean that some will not make another selection, as many people will always go with the safest option. If you are different then you are not safe! But when you are picked, you will be cherished.
What makes you unique? Are you embracing it or hiding it away from the world? Let others view the whole YOU and give them the opportunity to choose what is special!
Have A Great Day