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4 Things That DO Make You Different

by Bill Cates

How many times has a client asked you, “What makes you different?” or “How are you different from other advisors?”

At the risk of busting the credibility I’ve built over the last 30 years; I’d wager that most advisors don’t hear this nearly as often as all the “marketing gurus” tell you that you need to know that answer.

What most of your prospects and clients are asking (usually to themselves) is, “Are you right for me?”

Don’t get me wrong, I think certain differentiators truly can make a difference in your prospects’ and clients’ decision to work with you. Stay with me for a few minutes.

In my last Blog, 5 Things That Don’t Make You Different, I discussed that many advisors are using platitudes (what everyone else is saying) as differentiators. If you haven’t read that Blog yet, make sure you do.  

4 Broad Categories of Differentiation

Keep in mind that these are not mutually exclusive. Perhaps you can apply more than one of these categories to your business.

1. You Focus on a Target Market

When you focus on a target market, your value is often perceived immediately because of the questions you ask and the concepts you choose to discuss. When you focus on a specific market, you can demonstrate immediate empathy for their challenges and opportunities, often bringing solutions that a generalist just can’t offer. I’ve written about the benefits of targeting a narrow market many times in the past and will continue to do so.

2. Your Expertise or Specialization

People like to work with experts and specialists. Expertise can come from formal education, certifications, and years of experience. Don’t be timid about emphasizing your expertise and how you specialize.

“My compliance folks won’t let me say I’m an ‘expert.” This can be true. Most compliance departments won’t let you call yourself an Expert or Specialist – at least not without special training and/or certification. However, many will let you say that you have Expertise or that you Specialize in a certain area.  But don’t take my word for it. Check with them.

3. Your Comprehensive Process for Discovering and Revealing Problems As Well as Opportunities

Employing a comprehensive approach to discussing your prospects’ and clients’ problems can be a great source of value, BUT ONLY if your process truly is comprehensive and/or holistic. For example, your discovery process might reveal problems and opportunities that were previously hidden to the prospect. Your discovery process can bring value quickly in a new relationship by getting prospects to think in ways they haven’t before.

4. Your Process for Adding Continual Value to Clients

One of your points of differentiation may stem from how you continually bring value to your clients. While some of these points might be included in your core offering, others may be value-added items that surprise and delight clients, such as client-appreciation events.

Communicating your client service promise to prospects can often be the tipping point that turns that person into a client.

Name Your Process

Does your process have a name? One way to create immediate differentiation is to name your process.  If you created the process, then only you have it. Instant differentiation. If you use a process developed by someone else, that’s fine. While it may not be unique (it’s hard to be truly unique), certainly not just anyone can offer that process.

A Few Final Thoughts

Are there other ways to stand out from others? Of course! Can you have more than one point of differentiation? You bet!

Just be sure to communicate your points of differentiation in a way that is meaningful to others, that demonstrates real value; that brings it to a clear and relevant benefit.

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