I Think Your [Work] Should Be a Bit More Cookie-Cutter…

If you are open to new opinions, you are going to hear this a lot. (If you are not open to new opinions you’re cutting off a source of new ideas for growing your business, so this is a lump you’ve got to take.)

It ain’t new, but the person who suggests it will inevitably think it’s novel and essential advice.

Having just written a post about The Mom Test, I think it’s a good time to take on the issue of cookie-cutter vs. Innovation again. If you’ve ever used The Mom Test you may have heard Mom make a request for the familiar already.

When Invited to Offer Their 2¢ Some Friends Are Going to Say It:

Why can’t this function a bit more like amazon’s site?”

You know, I read a book by so-and-so and I think if you could write more like that, you’d really have something.”

Don’t you think your food’s a little too avant-garde for this area?”

I like the logo of X [company]. What about a folksy little illustration like they have, right here?”

What Does Going Beyond Cookie-Cutter Get You?

ING stood out from the financial-industry pack with their revolutionary use of the color orange. (No, really—it caused quite a stir.)

Scott Ginsberg has made a career from “simply” wearing a nametag, 24/7, even when naysayers try to stop him

Apple… oh, well, you know Apple. When their Direction is clear, they don’t let anybody tell them No. Can you believe some friends don’t want you to be like Steve Jobs?

Hayao Miyazaki is revitalizing animated films by bringing… umm… traditional animation back to film

Kenneth Branagh has offered Shakespeare to mass audiences again and again—and filmgoers love it

Dig Deeper…

When you hear from an apparent naysayer, suggesting your work be more cookie-cutter, dig deeper. Make him or her back it up. Ask for clarification. “I don’t think I understand you. Tell me more,” is a great way to break the negativity and look for the real issue. “This should be more like someone else’s,” may be a put-down from someone not keen to see you thrive, or there may be a legitimate usability, function, or quality issue.

Have you done your research? Are you offering needed solutions the client didn’t know were possible, or have you gone too far out on the limb to chase your dream?

Vision? Check. Needs? Check. Flawless Execution? Check.

If you’ve done your homework, listened and heard the cookie-cutter discussion, and addressed any real issues underlying it, hold fast. Create, shape, direct, innovate. Be compelling, be engaging, be necessary in a new way. Be a leader. With your research and planning, follow your Vision with utter focus.

Will you always succeed? ‘Fraid not. You will revisit the idea of becoming more cookie-cutter. Some do this sulking in the middle of the night, with a little Ben and Jerry’s… Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. Resist! (The sulking, not the ice cream. There’s a couple of classic innovators, who know it doesn’t always work.)

You will measure results, track growth, and tweak your offerings.

Cookie-cutter is not an option. If your firm is like everyone else’s, then why should I choose you? If you want your business to grow and thrive, you’d better stand out—or you might as well sit down.

Has anyone ever told you that your space, your product, your service, or your website should be more cookie-cutter? Share your story here! What did you gain from digging deeper?

Grow and be well,

Kelly Erickson


P.S. This post has been sitting in my notes for a couple of months. Thanks to Caroline Middlebrook for lighting a fire under my tush to finish it, with an offhand remark.