A lesson from the birds – have something to shout about, and shout loudly.

The Indian peacock has beautiful blue-green plumage in its train with a series of eyes that look magnificent when the train is fanned open. Many of the brilliant colours are due to an optical interference phenomenon known as ‘Bragg reflection’, which is based on the nanostructures of the barbules of the feathers.

As we all know, the peacock flares out its feathers when it is trying to attract the attention of the peahen. It also performs a dance that involves strutting and quaking and emitting a very loud high pitched cry.

You might think I have started writing for a nature magazine instead of the finest IT mag in the land but I haven’t completely lost my mind. It was during the recent 17 days of election limbo that I started to think of peacocks – and it wasn’t just for the strutting and high-pitched cry.

The peacock fans its feathers in an impressive display because it believes its show will be better than all of its counterparts. It wants to show off its attributes, as that is its best chance of being chosen by the finest female.

And it isn’t just peacocks that do it – all across the animal kingdom we see examples of animals showing their potential mates something impressive in the hope of winning their affections.

We don’t see the peacocks hiding in holes in the ground and keeping their beautiful feathers hidden.

After all the votes were counted in the recent federal election and the polls finally declared, the final two party preferred vote showed a difference of only 0.2 percent. I initially found that incredible. Of the 14,088,260 Australians enrolled to vote, there was only a tiny margin between the two major parties (we won’t mention the 5.55 percent of informal votes thanks to Mr Latham).

Then I started to think about it a little more and it made perfect sense. The two parties basically looked the same.

We didn’t really know what differences there were as both parties kept their heads down and rolled out safe messages that had a large smell of ‘metoo-ism’ about them. If you looked solely at what they were both offering to do, you would see they looked similar. So in hindsight it was actually no surprise at all that the votes that we cast were almost perfectly split down the middle. We were all voting for the same outcomes, just under two different names.

Statisticians would tell us that if you lined up enough people and asked them to enter a room and choose a marble from either the left jar or the right jar – and both jars were full of orange marbles – you would end up with a 50/50 split. That is what this election was all about. The closest we had to any difference at all, and the single component that I believe won the election for the ALP, was the NBN – and it pleased my little techno-heart to see technology as such an important issue at the Federal level.

Apart from the NBN, there was no peacock in this election shouting loud and clear and brandishing its plumage. There is an important lesson in business in this.

In business, stand for something. You won’t appeal to 100 percent of the marketplace, but what is important is that you appeal very strongly to your segment of the marketplace. When you try to appeal to everyone you inevitably will be offering something so bland and unenticing that you might vaguely appeal to half of the marketplace.

There will be no loyalty, as your offering will probably be the same as 10 other businesses are selling. And if you have multiple businesses offer the same product then the only differentiator is price. If you can offer something unique in the marketplace then you can almost name your price.

Not only do you need to make sure that you have a great set of feathers but you need to show them off. I have seen business award ceremonies where they hand out a gong for the ‘quiet achiever’.

If you are in business and you win one of these awards, immediately go back to your business and tar and feather the award and ceremoniously execute it by hanging it in your staff room.

If you have superior products and services, the last thing you want to do is be quiet about them. Go out and tell the world – like the peacock shows off its feathers. If you don’t have superior products and services then change your offering.

Tell me how you fan your feathers at md@smallbusinessrules.com.

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