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3 Keys To Your Successful Value Proposition

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“How often do you change your value statement . . . AKA . . . your ‘Elevator Pitch’?”

I ask that of people I meet with in workshops and in passing conversations.  Those who say they “rarely change” fall into 1 of 2 camps:

  1. they’ve not given the subject a lot of thought, or
  2. they’ve found something that works and they’re not going to ‘fix what ain’t broken’

But most of the time I hear, “I’m always changing it — when I find one I like, I’ll let you know!”.

The Search for a Good Elevator Pitch Never Ends

While I’m all for having a short, targeted statement that resonates with someone who may find the value proposition you offer is of interest, it’s just a the ‘first move’ in a larger game of marketing ‘chess’.

It may help you capture the attention of a potential prospect, but it’s not going to close a sale. In fact, there’s a long way between your ‘opening gambit’ and the ‘checkmate’ move that ends the game!

What you may want to give as much (if not more!) thought to is what is your value proposition?  That’s not necessarily something that fits the one-size-fits-all approach, nor is it something that you can give out as quickly and easily as an elevator pitch.

Your Value Proposition Is Not Your Elevator Pitch

If your elevator pitch is useful in ‘opening the game’ — like a good serve in tennis or a solid drive off the tee, your value proposition is what sustains the game to a decisive conclusion.

Your value proposition is the ultimate basis for a qualified prospect making a decision to do business with you.  Or, not.  The latter being true if you’re not a good fit for one another.

How Your Value Proposition and Elevator Pitch Differ

An effective elevator pitch must answer two questions:

  1. “Are you relevant . . . to me?”
  2. “What benefit will I enjoy . . . as a result of working with you?”

The relevance issue . . .
is easily addressed by defining or communicating WHO . . . is your ideal client.  One of my clients likes to say, “I work with business owners who are 55 years old or older . . .”.  That’s pretty clear and, I can tell you from her feedback, it’s pretty effective in quickly engaging the attention and interest (or, curiosity) of people who are over 55 and own a closely-held business.

The benefit issue . . .
is easily addressed by pointing out, in a very tangible way, what someone stands to gain (or, avoid losing) as a result of using the problem-solving expertise, products and/or services of the person who’s answering the questions, “What DO you do?”  Another client describes the beneficial difference he makes in a client’s life this way: “I help my clients achieve their 5 year plan goals in 3 years or less”.  Again, a measurable outcome he offers as a meaningful benefit that attracts the attention and  engages the interest of someone he’s just met.

If your elevator pitch is a one-size-fits-all statement of WHO and WHY, your value proposition is more of a custom-tailored response that perfectly addresses the questions:

  1. “Why You?” and
  2. “Why Not?”

Why YOU? . . .
The fancy-schmancy marketing term this suggests is ‘positioning’ or ‘differentiating’.

It goes to the issue that, all other things being equal, what makes you the preferred provider of the beneficial solution to the problem that you used your elevator pitch to capture my attention back when we first met?

If you’re no different — or, better — than other providers of the solution I may (now) be interested in . . . any competitor with a clear and compelling reason to chose them over you could . . . beat you out at the box-office.  So you’d best find out why you’re not only different but better than the alternatives.

Why NOT? . . .
In sales, there’s an old adage that says, “A decision to do nothing, is still a decision”.  I’d argue it’s the default decision that each of us must assume when talking with a prospective client.  They’ve been doing something before we showed up and they may feel that’s good enough UNLESS . . . they learn of a compelling reason to do something different.

This raises the issue of ‘risk’.  No one likes to make a mistake.  So they make a decision to do no thing that will change their situation — for the better or, the worse.  It’s a big reason behind why people don’t take actions that could, potentially, benefit them.

You probably hear of many people who didn’t jump back into the stock market after the big crash in 2008 out of fear of getting ______’ed again.  But they lost out on the recovery, too.

You’ll need to manage the risk of action vs. inaction in the value proposition you offer someone or they may just decide to ‘stay put’.  And that, for both of you, may be more costly than either of you like.

The 3 Keys . . . To a Successful Value Proposition

If you want to build a value proposition that will move people to make a decision about working with you, consider what you must address with whatever and however you communicate it . . .

Interest . . . you must focus your prospect’s attention on WIIFM (What’s In It For Me?).  Everyone has more choices for investing their time and money than they have time and money to invest.  Unless you’re talking about what your prospect cares about, you’ll be talking to yourself before too long!  So focus on the benefit you offer and hit it . . . hard and quickly.

Competitive Position . . . despite what your mother told you, you are not the only game in town.  You have competition.  You know it.  Your prospects know it, too.  So embrace the obvious.  The ‘elephant’ in the room. How?  By acknowledging your prospects’ alternatives to you.  Reference your competitors and position who you are, what you offer and how you’re better . . . relative to your alleged competitors.

Avis rental cars claimed, “We’re #2, we (have to) try harder”.  By adopting that position, they re-positioned the #1 car rental company (Hertz) very effectively . . . “They’re #1 . . . they don’t have to . . . (give a _ _ _ _!)”.

Credibility . . . prospects are not clients (yet) because they’re already doing some thing else!  Think about it.  They are already doing some-thing by simply doing no-thing . . . with you or anyone else in your field!  A decision to do nothing is still a decision to do something . . . to maintain their status quo.  Why do people do this?

Life coaches Walt Hampton and Ann Sheybani teach that the desire to avoid possible pain is, for most of us, more powerful than the desire to make changes that may lead to greater gain.  We may want to ‘steal 2nd base’ but we know keeping our foot on first base won’t get us tossed out of the game.

Never mind that doing no-thing may be more costly than some-thing you may be suggesting.  We don’t make changes easily until we believe the cost of doing nothing (different) poses a greater risk of loss than the benefit we may gain by doing something new, different, and . . . possibly better.

Your value proposition must address these three issues — interest, position and credibility. How?  Often with client testimonials that your prospect can relate to as credible parties whose situation was similar to what their’s is now and whose outcomes were more promising to seek than maintain the status quo they’re living with now.

POINT:
Your Elevator Pitch can start the game, but a solid Value Proposition can close the sale for you

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Making a Good Impression on Your Prospective Client

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“How can I convince a prospective client that I’m better than other advisors in my field?”  That’s a great question.  One I get asked a lot.  OK, here’s an insight for you . . .

Prospects decide to work with you — as their advisor —  the same way they decide to buy a book. But before they buy the book, they ‘buy’ the book’s cover. Consider the following scenario:

You’re in a bookstore.  You find two books on a topic you’re interested in.  You want to buy one book, not two.  Question: “How do you choose which book to buy?”

Do you read both books before you decide which one to buy?  No.  That’s not practical.  So what does help you choose one book over another?  Short answer?  It’s the book’s cover!  

Specifically, it’s the experience a cover offers you that helps you choose one book over the other.

If it’s sufficiently appealing, you’ll probably buy the book.  If not, you’ll put it back on the shelf. That’s the very same process prospects use to decide to work with you . . . or, your competitor.

The Impression You Make is Key to Your Success with Prospects

Let’s be candid.  Financial planning is an overcrowded and highly competitive field.  Next to encountering a few ‘coaches’, attending any social event means you’ll find more than a couple of ‘financial advisors’.  And we both know that’s being conservative.

Your Challenge:  Standing Out . . . from Your Competitors

To people who are not in the financial planning field, every planner looks like all the rest.

At a minimum, you call yourself by a common term — ‘financial planner’.  You probably have letters after your name on your business card — CFP, CLU, ChFC, etc..  You’re licensed by the various financial regulatory agencies, you hold membership in your professional associations locally and nationally and you have awards and accolades from your company or broker-dealer.  So do all the other planners!

There’s really very little ‘difference’ between you and your competitors . . . as Joe or Jane Public perceives things.

So here’s the problem:  You may be no worse than your competition.  But, you’re also not seen as being any better than they are, either.  Not good.  For you!

What you SAY and DO . . . Differentiates You

Some years ago a major accounting firm hired the ‘father’ of modern differentiation — Ted Levitt, Professor Emeritus of the prestigious Harvard Business School.  They asked him, “Tell us how to ‘differentiate’ our audit services from the audit services our competitors are offering”.  Winning an audit contract with a major company — think Boeing, Apple, Google, etc. could bring in millions of dollars in fees — to the accounting firm that’s chosen to do the audit.

Levitt knew that to ‘stand out’, something must possess two qualities.  First, it must be unique.  In a me-too world, you won’t be noticed unless you’re different.  Think of Waldo.  He doesn’t stand out so it’s hard to find him, right?  Second, it must also be beneficial.  Something must offer a legitimate benefit — as the target audience defines ‘value’.

The problem is it’s not easy to sustainably differentiate a professional service –– like you offer.

If your offering is beneficial, competitors will copy you and you won’t be unique for long.

If your offering is unique and competitors aren’t copying you, maybe there’s really no benefit.

There’s your dilemma.  Finding a way to sustain a ‘competitive edge’ . . . a point of differentiation for you . . . over time . . . is a very real challenge.  It’s why you feel like Waldo more than you like!

The Secret To ‘Standing Out’ and ‘Kicking Your Competitors Butts’ 

Good News!  Professor Levitt’s first requirement . . . being unique . . . is actually easy . . . for you.  Last time I looked, there was no one else on Earth who is just like you.  Heck, even your mother told you that, right?  Listen to your mother!  She’s right.  You are totally and perfectly unique.

As for being beneficial, here’s how you address that issue.  Manage your behavior!  Why?  Because there’s a direct connection between:

1.  what you SAY and what you DO in front of a prospective client

2.  how they perceive you as a preferred provider of financial expertise, advice and products

3.  whether they’ll choose you (or, your competitor!) . . . when the ‘beauty contest’ is over

I use a simple graphic with my clients to illustrate how this works . . .

It all begins with / depends on your behavior.

Everything (EVERY Thing) you do and say — i. e. your behavior — creates an experience for your prospective client.

 

In social psychology, it’s well-known that your perception of someone reflects the cumulative effect of the behavioral impressions they offer you.

If I’m always late or always have a messy room, you tend to perceive me as undisciplined, uncaring, disorganized, lazy, etc.  That may not be true.  But because that’s your subjective perception of me, that’s your reality of me and you’ll tend to behave accordingly toward me.

Pulling It All Together

OK, so how do you use these insights to help your prospective clients perceive you as the advisor they’d prefer to work with . . . assuming they’re ready to do so . . . and all other things are ‘essentially equal’?

First, learn what your ideal client wants to find in an advisor
Leavitt learned audit clients really didn’t care about the audit.  It was a necessary evil — like undergoing a colonoscopy after age 50. What they really wanted / cared about was to work with a ‘business advisor‘ whose firm could also do their audit.

AHA!  It was never about the audit, it was always about the relationship the client wanted!

The best way to learn what your prospects want in an advisor is simple.  Ask your best clients this question:

“Why did you choose ME . . . over other planners you were aware of / considering using?”

You may hear:  “You knew about . . . “, “You were thorough”,  You listened well”,  “You made me feel comfortable”, etc.  These are perceptions . . . of you . . . expected by your prospects.

Once you learn the answer to the question, “Why me?”. . . you’ll know what your prospects are looking for in an advisor in your field.  Then, I urge you to identify the ‘Top 3’ most commonly cited answers you hear.

When you know what makes you a preferred provider, you can create the experience (of you) prospects will use to decide if you’re the advisor they want.  Yes, it’s an Open Book Test!

RULE:
“3 Behavioral Impressions –––> 1 Subjective Perception”

It takes 3 behavioral impressions to cement a single perception (AKA ‘truth’ or ‘reality) about you with a prospect.  If you create 3 behavioral impressions for each of the Top 3 perceptions that educators want in their financial advisor and, all things being equal, you’ll have a decided edge over any alleged competitor!  See?  Amazingly simple.

Second, choose what you must SAY and DO to validate the Top 3 perceptions clients want
Your current clients were once your prospects.  They were looking for someone they could feel comfortable trusting to help them manage their financial affairs.  Behaving like what your clients wanted from you is the key to presenting your ‘best side’ to prospects in the future.

For example, let’s say you work with educators.  Your best clients told you, “We chose you because you seemed to know a lot about teachers”  If so, you may want to communicate your expertise by asking a question or sharing an insight.  e.g.  “Many of the teachers I work with are not aware of what their maximum contribution to a tax-deferred annuity program is for this year.  Have you determined what you’re allowed to contribute and are you planning to take full advantage of that amount?”

That’s one (1) behavioral impression!  If you make three (3) similar behavioral impressions during an initial meeting with a prospective educator client, they’ll form the perception that you’re someone who . . . specializes in working with educators!

Repeat that process with the #2 and #3 perceptions educators use to choose . . . their financial advisor . . . and you’ll end up not only standing out in your initial meetings, you’ll end up converting more prospects into clients, too.

POINT:
People buy books by their covers and advisors / planners by their behaviors!

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Packaging Your Service (part 5)

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package

Constructing Your (Intangible Service) Package

Today, we’re going to delve into what packaging your service really demands. It may help if you keep  “The Pure Powder Skiing Escape” from the 1/8/2013 post in mind as we do this.

Building Your Package . . . Steps 3 – 4 of 9

In this post, I’m going to explain Steps 3 and 4 of the 9 steps shared in part 3.  With these insights, creating a ‘package’ for your service will become much much easier!

Step 3:  IDENTIFY . . . Specific PAIN/s of Your Ideal Client
As important as it is to have an ULTIMATE benefit or goal in mind, in this step you drill down a bit more and get a lot more specific about what issues, frustrations, concerns, irritations, etc. your service package might address.

When you consider your Ideal Client (remember, “Harry”?) you’ll quickly realize that he or she may want a ‘big’ beneficial outcome from you but that may require achieving several smaller component goals.  For example, a financial planner’s client may want to ‘retire with an income that supports a decent lifestyle’.  But making that bigger goal possible may require more specific goals to happen.  Such as:

•  Having a guaranteed income in the event a client is unable to work
•  Avoiding the catastrophic loss a long-term illness suggests
•  Tax planning to legally reduce taxes and maximize income
•  etc. etc.

Each of these ‘component’ goals suggest different ‘packages’ of applied expertise that, in total, contribute to producing the ultimate benefit a client desires — to retire with sufficient income to support a decent lifestyle.

POINT:
Build a package for EACH specific outcome that a client wants from you.

Step 4:  REFINE . . . Your BENEFIT for Specific Groups of Your Ideal Clients
In step 3 (above) you saw how an ‘ultimate’ benefit is actually made up of one or more ‘supporting’ benefits.  But when you consider specifically WHO you’re seeking to attract with your package, you’ll begin to see how each group of clients wants to enjoy your ultimate benefit . . . in their own unique way.

Remember the “Pure Powder Skiing Escape”?  That’s a specific package for a specific type of client — the corporate traveler who wants a ‘civilian’ holiday where skiing is the ‘main event’.

While the same level of amenities is still desired by the travel agency’s business traveler client, this package addresses how this same client wants to get away from it all on their vacation vs. a business trip.  If you go back and review what this business-traveler-on-vacation package offers, you’ll see it’s specific in WHAT it does but is still mindful of WHO is going to get to enjoy it.

In this step, you want to consider your Ideal Client and the Ultimate Benefit they want but . . . choose a specific benefit that contributes to that ultimate benefit and build your package to provide that outcome or result for your client.

POINT:
Every package is built to produce a specific benefit that contributes to and is supportive of the ultimate benefit a client is seeking from you and your problem-solving expertise.

Don’t want to wait?  Download the full Special Report . . . NOW!

Packaging Your Service (Part 4)

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package

Constructing Your (Intangible Service) Package

Today, we’re going to delve into what it packaging your service really demands. It may help if you keep  “The Pure Powder Skiing Escape” from the 1/8/2013 post in mind as we do this.

Building Your Package . . . Step by Step

In this post, I’m going to explain the first 2 of the 9 steps shared in part 3.  With this insight, creating a ‘package’ for your service will become much much easier!

Step 1:  DEFINE . . . your CORE BENEFIT
Everything you do should be a harmonic reflection of your business’ purpose — as your clients would describe it.  And your package is simply a ‘bundle’ of elements that produce that beneficial difference in a client’s life.  If you start out with the ‘end’ clearly in mind, then the components that lead someone to that destination become equally clear to you.

Take McDonald’s Happy Meal as an example.  That’s a ‘package’ in every sense of the word. Burger.  Fries (or, fruit!), drink and toy (God forbid they forget to put the toy in the bag, eh?).

Parents buy Happy Meals (not kids).  So what is the real benefit a McDonald’s Happy Meal gives a parent?  According to what I can tell, it’s “7 minutes”.  Huh?  Well, think about it.  A parent buys a Happy Meal . . . so they’ll get “7 minutes” to wolf down their own food before their kid drags them outside to the play in the playscape.

POINT:
Start by focusing on the Big Picture / end result / ultimate benefit . . . it makes building your package a breeze (well, relatively so!).

Step 2:  REVIEW . . . Your RECENT CLIENTS
In marketing, it’s often helpful to use a ‘personna’ or ‘avatar’ — a mental construct that embodies or represents the essential qualities of your ‘Ideal Client’ — to write to, speak to . . . when you’re seeking to communicate effectively with your clients.  

For example, allow me to introduce you to “Harry”.  Harry is a client personna constructed out of the collective experiences of many different clients.  He’s the owner of a company that employs 28 people.  Harry’s clients are ‘significantly above average’ in terms of their total household income.  Harry’s company offers a variety of services to these people. He’s got a lot of competitors to contend with on any given day.  Which doesn’t make Harry too happy.  Why?  Well, lately, his margins have been squeezed a bit because . . . (you getting the idea?).

You want to create a ‘Harry’ (or, Harriet) for your business.  It helps you focus on WHO it is you’re building this package for in the first place!  Your package should contain ‘everything ‘Harry’ wants or needs and nothing he doesn’t’.  But if you don’t know who it is you’re building a package for . . . you’re likely to get it wrong.  You may include ‘nice but not critical’ stuff.  Or worse, you may (inadvertently of course!) omit something critical to Harry’s enjoying the benefit he’s buying your package to create and enjoy.

POINT:
Build a marketing personna or avatar based on your best and most recent clients.  Keeping your ‘Harry’ in mind as you build your package will make sure it’s attractive AND effective!

Don’t want to wait?  Download the full Special Report . . . NOW!

Strategy Before Tactics — ALWAYS!!

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Duct Tape Marketing Founder John Jantsch has a number of words of wisdom.

One of them is that effective marketing results from a coordinated, strategic approach rather than what might be called chasing the marketing tactic of the week.  This is very common.  You hear about what a fellow business owner did that got their phone to ring, their ‘likes’ to increase, etc. and you think, “Hey, that sounds like a good thing to do . . .”.  So you do it.

But you’re playing ‘Follow The Leader’, marketing-wise, and . . . it’s not a good thing to do.

The Problem with Playing Follow-The-Leader
In a business growth consultation I do with clients (The Profit Project™) I share a simple story.

“Assume you’re a bird.  In a long line of birds.  And the line leads to a very high cliff.  As each bird moves up to the edge of the cliff, they step off and fly away.  Now assume you realize that, while you’re a bird, you’re not an eagle like all the other birds.  In fact, you’re a penguin.  So if you attempt to fly off the cliff, you’ll fall like a rock and be killed or seriously hurt at best.”

Then I share a slightly different scenario  . . .

“Assume you’re a bird.  In a long line of birds.  And the line leads to a very high cliff.  But here’s the difference.  The ‘cliff’ is made of snow and ice.  You’re in Antarctica.  And yes, you’re a penguin.  This time, you’re likely to survive your cliff jump and the other birds, presumably still eagles, are going to freeze to death.”

Even if their marketing tactic is productive, it’s likely due to a proper alignment between the marketing tactic/s they chose and the nature of their specific business.  Your business is different.  And, you may not be so successful — even if you employ the very same tactics!

KEY POINT:
Choose your marketing tactics based on who YOU are, not on what the business owner next to you is doing.

Exclusive . . . is Attractive

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There is a wise and seasoned professional colleague of mine . . . named Kyle Hunt.

Kyle’s based in Michigan and he’s the owner of Remodel Your Marketing.  He specializes in working exclusively with clients who are  in the remodeling business and related trades — painters, carpenters, builders, electricians . . . well, you get the idea.

Kyle is undoubtedly one of THE best marketing advisors to trades people that I know.

Kyle is someone who ‘Walks his Talk’.  He practices what he preaches to his clients.  And there’s great wisdom in how he does that.

One of the basic marketing objectives is to seek to be attractive . . . to the kind of people you want as clients.  And, of course, the corollary to that would be to know the kind of person you do NOT want to attract.  That suggests you should have an ‘Ideal Client Profile’.

Your Ideal Client Profile
Often, when we talk about a ‘profile’, we mean the demographic and psychographic factors that correlate highly with the kind of people who can best understand what we do, desire the benefits we offer, afford the fees we must charge and (sooner or later) buy what we offer.

This is NOT that kind of profile.

The profile I want to introduce to you now — and use Kyle’s own profile (below) as an excellent example — is more of a profile that allows your prospects to self-qualify or, self-DISqualify themselves as being viable candidates to work with you.

Below you can see the “7 Characteristics” that Kyle uses to help people determine if they might be a good ‘fit’ for Kyle and vice versa.

Knowing WHO you do NOT want to work with is as important as knowing who you do. Effective marketing honors the truth that . . . “You can’t be all things to all people”.

So Kyle brilliantly just ‘puts it out there’ for all to see and use to determine if they’re even QUALIFIED to be one of Kyle’s clients.

It’s not hubris to do this, it’s brilliance!

KEY POINT:
When you know who you want (or, don’t!) as a client . . . and can communicate that to others . . . you’re far more likely to end up with clients you’ll like! 

Some Things NEVER Change

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I just read where Apple has become a largely iPhone company.

In 2012 Q1, the iPhone generated 58% of Apple’s revenue.  58%!!!

A mere 5 years ago, Apple didn’t even have the iPhone, much less the enviable position in the cell-phone marketplace it now commands.

So I guess the blog title isn’t quite correct, eh?  Some things DO change.  But wait . . .

What Made This Possible?  
Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, in a related story, talked about why Apple would remain a ‘top choice’ even though some cell-phone carrier subsidies may be reduced in the future:
“. . . our focus is on making . . . a phone that delivers an off-the-charts user experience that customers want. At the end of the day, I think that carriers . . . want to provide what their customers want to buy.”

An ‘OFF THE CHARTS USER EXPERIENCE’
Ironically, while the MODE of Apple’s revenues has changed to reflect it’s huge success with the iPhone, the BASIS of what makes Apple so successful has NOT changed.

As Cook pointed out, Apple’s ‘secret sauce’ is to create such a compelling and exquisite experience for people who buy and use Apple products that, all things being equal, there’s really no basis for comparison with an Apple product.

There’s a lesson there . . . I hope you see it.  More importantly, I hope you APPLY it!

KEY POINT:
Understanding what your client wants . . . and providing it in an elegant and compelling manner . . . generates an experience that produces repeat sales, increasing revenues, more profit-ability and growing brand loyalty.   

How Do YOU Stand Out in Business?

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Four (4) things prospects like to know when they first meet you:

WHAT . . . do you do for your clients? (Value Proposition)

WHO . . . you do that for? (Target Market / Ideal Client)

HOW . . . you do that? (Secret Sauce)

WHY . . .  are you better than other firms? (Unique Selling Proposition)

Your TALKING LOGO addresses most of these questions.  But what’s the REAL basis for ‘standing out’ from your competitors?  It’s NOT (darn it!) as easy as crafting a great message you can use when you meet someone for the first time.

How Do You STAND OUT . . . to a Prospective Client?
Years ago a famous marketing professor at Harvard Business School (Ted Leavitt) was asked to help a major accounting firm ‘differentiate’ their audit services.  A major corporation’s audit business is worth a LOT of money to the accounting firm that “wins the audit” away from other competitors.

To differentiate a product or service, it must be BOTH:

1)  Beneficial . . . i.e. it must offer a meaningful benefit, and
2)  Unique . . . i.e. it can’t be like anything else

Then, he explained the challenge . . . “If something is truly beneficial, it won’t be ‘unique’ for long — competitors will follow suit and if something is truly unique, maybe what you’re offering isn’t all that beneficial”.

Everything this firm offered in an audit was also being offered by their competitors.  So where was the opportunity to differentiate?  It didn’t (seem to) exist!

The Challenge of Differentiating Your Business and Services
But Leavitt had an idea.  He asked to interview their best audit clients to learn, “WHY . . . did they choose your firm to get an audit?”.  The client agreed.

A large number of their clients later told him, “We just liked them better than any other firm”.

“Perception IS Reality”
In marketing, being ‘liked’ isn’t about being ‘nice’ (even if you are!).  It’s about being seen as a Preferred Provider relative to your competitors.

The clients suggested a number of PERCEPTIONS about Leavitt’s client and told him that it was how they behaved during their meetings that convinced them his client was the ‘best firm’ to use to get that audit.

Basically, what they SAID and DID convinced these prospects to go with Leavitt’s client!

The Big Lesson Here
Ask your ‘best clients’ the question, “Why did you choose OUR firm?”.  Follow that up with, “What did we SAY or DO to make you believe we were ‘the best’ firm to use?

You’ll learn what you need to say and do in front of prospects . . . to ‘Stand Out’ from the crowd of your (alleged!) competitors.

Finding Your Most Profitable Clients

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With one foot in ICE water and one foot in BOILING water . . . on the average . . . you should be pretty comfortable!”

One of the things I remember from my college statistics class was that an ‘average‘ is a theoretical construct abstracted from empirical reality.

Practically speaking, it doesn’t reflect in any accurate way what’s really going on in your world — i.e. ’empirical reality’.

“Statistics Lie”
That’s 100% Incorrect. Statistics don’t lie any more than guns kill people.   But people do use them to present reality in a way that may invite you to either misunderstand or (more likely!) misperceive the ’empirical reality’ that they’re based upon.

The 80 / 20 Rule — AKA “Pareto’s Principle”
Pareto was the Italian economist who first suggested that “80% of any result is generated by about 20% of the effort required to get it”.  This ‘rule’ of input and output has been applied to almost everything.  In business, you often hear, “80% of your profits comes from 20% of your clients”.  That’s accurate — until you dig deeper!

Pareto’s Principle reflects a Statistical AVERAGE Not an Empirical Reality!
In advertising, you hear, “50% of every dollar spent is wasted” followed by the collorary “So I have to spend a buck to see any value”.  That’s consistent with the “80/20 Rule” — only in that case, it’s more like the “50/50 Rule”!

Even if the 80/20 rule is ‘technically correct’, it can be ‘practically in-correct’.  Why?  Because is SIMPLIFIES the situation and that is what causes the 80/20 rule to be dangerous if you take it on face value.

Pareto was a Pessimist!
What I mean is that when you examine which of your clients are contributing to your ‘bottom line’, you may find what MIT lecturer, Jonathan Byrnes points out in his book “Islands of Profit in a Sea of Red Ink“.  Byrnes argues that your practice has a relatively few ‘super profitable clients’ who cover for the ‘grossly un-profitable ones’.  So while the 80/20 Rule may appear to be true, in reality, your profits are more likely to reflect the “99.9 / 0.01 Rule”.

KEY POINT:
Identify your SUPER PROFITABLE clients and cultivate relationships with them! 

Building Valued Client Relationships

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When you think about what makes for a valued relationship between two people, I think EMPATHY has to be a key factor.

Empathy Invites Emotional Engagement and Commitment
Jane Wurwand, Founder of Dermalogica wrote an article and cited author, Daniel Pink who argues that empathy is a right-brain quality.  Jane feels empathy is more ‘feminine’ than ‘masculine’ and it’s why, more often than not, highly successful business people seem to possess this quality and exercise it liberally.

Empathy Is a Key Factor in Business Success
Wurwand’s article reminds us of how both the masculine quality of ‘assertive energy’ as well as the feminine quality of ‘connective energy’ are necessary for reaching effective decisions and building consensus to implement them effectively.

Gertrude Bell’s Legacy:  Rim-Walker
Gertrude Bell was woman ahead of her time.  A graduate of Oxford University in England, she was an advisor to Arab kings, European heads of state and spoke several dialects of Arabic.

Her ability to connect with her clients was incredible.  She knew how her clients saw the world because she lived as they did.  After graduating from Oxford, she learned Arabic by living with the Bedouin tribes in North Africa for several years.  When King Faisal of Iraq (it was 1921) sought her counsel, she not only understood Arab culture, she spoke his language.

If western culture was in one ‘bowl’ and arab culture was in another, Ms. Bell was able to ‘walk the rims’ of each — seeing what both had  to offer (or, protect!).  Her role as advisor and liaison to powerful world leaders resulted from her being highly effective at providing empathetic counsel and using it to gain consensus from extremely disparate parties.

What You Can Learn From Happy Clients
Ask clients of highly regarded / desired advisors, “What do you like most about your advisor?”.  They’ll tell you.  Usually, it’s some variation on “S/he understands our business, our culture, our industry, our competitors but most of all . . . me”.

This makes it easy to ensure any recommendations you may make will be more acceptable and more likely to be implemented. But it all hinges on your ability to understand your client’s world, hopes, fears, concerns and desires.

KEY POINT:  
Get out of your world long enough to get into your clients’ world and business