Differentiate

By Christine Hollinden

Time, resources, and competition are among the top growing pains firms experience, especially firms that have grown quickly and want to continue on a path for increased growth. So what can you do to move from ordinary to extraordinary and achieve optimal success? Answer one question. Why should someone hire your firm? It sounds simple, but the ability to articulate your firm’s uniqueness is the difference between being hired or passed over for the competition.

Creating a clear differentiation in the eyes of your clients and prospects is key to alleviating growing pains. In professional service firms there are many competitors that “do” the same thing your firm does. In these crowded markets, it’s essential to highlight what makes your services, experience, and process different. So where can you begin?

  1. Focus. Stop being the firm that does everything for everyone. Focus on a specific target market, issue, or approach. Cater your services to the specific problems and challenges your ideal clients face. Have an answer for those problems. When you attempt to answer every demand asked by a client, you lose that competitive edge of differentiation. Be an expert firm. When you claim expertise in a specific field, prospects will seek out your knowledge. Firms with focus and true differentiation attract clients from all over. Become the go-to firm that fulfills a specific need. Catering to a clearly defined niche market means standing out from the crowd.

  2. Position. Once you have focused your firm and clearly defined your differentiation, write it down. A positioning statement is typically a two-sentence statement that communicates your organization’s distinction. Its purpose is to differentiate your brand by positioning it to be seen as have little to no substitutes. It should explain your services, target audience, and how you achieve results. Think of it as your 10-second elevator pitch. It should generate interest and begin a conversation.

  3. Apply. A well-defined positioning strategy must be applied to the marketing and business development process. This means all communications should be aligned with your positioning statement. Build core messaging around the statement. Know where your prospects are in the buying cycle, and apply the appropriate communication strategy. This method saves time and money, once again alleviating those growing pains.