Article: Joseph Jobst

The Small Business Library

February 21, 2000

Ten Powerful Differentiation Strategies

Make Your Professional Practice or Business Stand Out From the Crowd

You offer a great product or service, right? :-)
Chances are, you are not alone... not unique... not the only one offering the products and services you offer.

So how do you stand out -- differentiate yourself from others?

    Pick a well-defined niche of clients or issues you are good with AND that you have opportunities to reach.
    A niche you can't reach... can't pay you. List out all the various target groups you might like to reach and then rank them first in order of your desire to work with them and then (going across) in order of how easy it would be for you to reach them.

    If you aren't the only one, at least be the BEST at it -- and known for being the best. This strategy requires not only competence but also lots of public relations. You have to create "buzz" about yourself. You have to get on talk shows, be quoted in the media, write articles, etc.. Referral/word of mouth marketing will also help here as clients and customers talk about you.

    If you're clever, your name will help you stand out. You can name your firm or business itself in a way that stands out, or a service you provide, like "The 30-Day Financial Recovery Program" which INSTANTLY tells people what they'll get and how long it will take.

    Aligning yourself with a well-defined target group is a great idea. It helps to build instant trust.
    Let's say you've gone from being an accountant to consulting with accounting firms on some aspect of the business. You can describe yourself as "From an accountant who's been there, done that, and knows exactly what to do now."

    Or, if you offer a business opportunity, it would be great to reach the people who do the kind of JOB that you do every day, and show them how it fits what they already know to do.

    Establish as many partnerships as you possibly can. The internet makes that easy.
    For example, I'm networking with about 20 netrepreneurs - design artists, copywriters, lawyers, IT professionals, offshore consultants, journalists, media buyers and planners, translators, computing engineers, etc.
    But do it the right way - it must be a win-win situation for both partners!

    You can stand out by HOW you deliver your products or professional services. If you deliver consultation over the phone, or just-in-time desktop computer training, or personal home visits as my masseur does (so much more convenient, especially AFTER the massage when I'm ready to go straight to bed and often do!), those are things you ought to emphasize.

    In the U.S., the "Book-of-the-Month Club" made continuity programs famous. People would usually get 4 books for $1.00, then they would receive a book a month for a certain price. What was nice about this is that you sell people ONCE, then they keep paying you every month. This is residual income without a MLM format (which you may or may not like). Access to a members-only website is a great way to do this strategy online.

    Of course, you've got to have lots of value on that site. The Warriors, Cookie Cutters, WorldProfitCenter, and many others are making lots of money with this concept (the inventors/owners, NOT their affiliates!).

    Think of what you sell as "problem solving." Your product or service solves a problem people have. Too many Internet marketers are trying to sell either only ONE thing or a HODGE-PODGE of other folk's things.

    Here's a better idea. Offer EVERYTHING your prospects need to solve the problem you solve. If it's internet marketing, then offer books, links, resources, software, everything dealing with net marketing. If it's building a business, then offer not just the latest "hot" book, but consulting, teleclasses, directory of specialists, legal forms, templates -- everything entrepreneurs need to build their business.

    Sell your strengths and buy your weaknesses!  What you can't offer yourself you can get others to offer (for a percentage of their fees) - see JointVenture.

    One key strategy is to offer clients or customers very innovative approaches to solving their problems.
    In this strategy, you would be known as offering people the very latest approaches to reaching their goals, and can position yourself against the competition by saying something like, "We don't give you the same tired old answers. We give you the absolute latest and best approaches to.... based on our continuing research and experimentation....etc., etc...."

    This one's tried and true, but only when price really matters. Frankly, I'd suggest using this one LAST, because it's hard to make significant income with very low-priced items.

So What Do I Pick?

Hhmmmh, big question. Here are 3 quick guidelines.

  1. Which strategies felt like the EASIEST to do?
    Take the path of least resistance. Do anything that will be both effective and easy to do. Do the harder stuff -- if ever -- once you have a steady, high income.

  2. Which strategies felt like YOU --
    the person you are trying to express in your profession or business.
    I put a high value on personal integrity, on being true to your real Self, not merely chasing dollars and clients.

  3. Which strategies do your CLIENTS or CUSTOMERS WANT?
    If they could design their perfect product or service in your area of specialty, would they want?  Write THEIR wish list. Then see which of those you want to do and feel you can do.