Last night I did a seminar for a small group of small/medium size law firm principles.
It was quite an enlightening experience for me because I realized that one of the biggest gaps holding back many SMEs in any professional service firm is “The Differentiation Gap.”
We can define “The Differentiation Gap” as the space between how the SME principle or executive views their products and services and how the market sees them.
One of the big issues that many rainmakers and executives bring to me on a regular basis is the fact that they find themselves all too often strangled by price sensitivity from their customers and prospects.
My response is pretty consistent because I’m often reassured by the conversation that the challenge for most of these organizations is that their markets don’t perceive enough value from what they are offering.
In other words, their is a gap between the value you create and the amount of space you have put between you and your competitors.
To maximize revenue, to grow your business, and to achieve the success you desire, requires rethinking how you are positioning your organization in the market to help eliminate “The Differentiation Gap” and create an environment where your branding is consistent with the unique value that you create.
Here’s a few ideas that can help you:
Ensure Your Marketing and Sales Efforts Focus on Results:
I lead with outcomes when I talk with prospects.
Because in almost every instance the person you are talking with might have an idea of what they want as an activity in their head, but they definitely have a point of pain that you should be uncovering to identify the real issues at play there.
This means that you have to pay attention to the outcomes because they allow you to reframe your conversation in terms of results which will help remove you from the world of commodity status.
Think about it like this: if you are trying to improve your sales would you rather talk to the person that goes on and on about “sales training” or would you rather talk with the person that helps create strategies that “improve closing rates by 15%”?
Spend Time Thinking Through Your Competencies and Impact Through the Eyes of Your Clients:
One of the great traps of marketing is when we allow our marketing materials to focus on what we care about.
When I was first starting out as a consultant, I picked up Alan Weiss’s book, Million Dollar Consulting, and the most eye opening passage and one that struck like a lightbulb going on when I read it concerned “no one wants an unethical consultant.”
Alan’s point being that your marketing shouldn’t be focusing on things that should just be the bar for entry. You should be focusing on things that truly differentiate you from everyone else.
The secret is that for all of us, the bar to do that is so incredibly low that it is laughable.
All you really have to do to make a huge jump forward in your marketing and sales is to focus on the prospect or the market with your attention and not yourself.
That will require you to spend a little bit of time thinking through the work you do from the POV of the people you help.
How do you impact them?
How do your competencies improve their businesses?
Become a Trusted Resource:
One of the big factors in closing “The Differentiation Gap” is by becoming a point of singular attention.
In every industry we know that there is one resource that if you don’t know who they are, you are a rookie or an amateur.
In sports business, that’s Troy Kirby.
In marketing, that’s Seth Godin.
No matter what industry you are in, these people’s opinions and ideas carry a certain heft.
Which means that when the conversation comes to working with Seth Godin or working with someone in marketing, if you can work with Seth…its a no-brainer.
The same goes for Troy, Anthony, or Jeffrey.
The point here is not that you have to make yourself into a global thought leader, but you do need to make yourself a trusted resource in your community, your market, or your area of focus.
You do that through a number of different ways.
A non-exhaustive list includes: speaking, writing, past client performance and testimonials.
The big thing is that you want people to associate you with success in your chosen area of focus.
The truth is that there is a real gap between perception and reality for many businesses. And, one thing that is likely to determine your success or failure going forward is to close the gap between how you view yourself and how the world sees your work. So that you can work to create a market where you aren’t one of many, but one of one.