So how different is your business really from your competitors? Surely there are different staff that work in your business, so that’s one difference. What else is different?
I ask the question because what you look like to the marketplace has a great deal to do with the new clients and business you attract.
I look at the financial planning and accounting marketplace, and I see a lot of white bread. To the marketplace, they all look the same, they all sound the same, the all deliver their service in the same way, and they all charge the same kind of fees.
You might think that’s ok; you’re happy being the same as the others. That’s ok. Australian’s eat a lot of white bread each year, and you’re sure to get some clients who want your services. You’re never going, however, to have a growing business if that’s the way you market your business.
But if you want a better business, you might spend some time thinking about how to make your business look different and think about reputation.
Here’s 4 ideas to help you think about how you might improve your reputation.
1. Focus on a specialisation you have a passion for
Most financial planners and accountants I speak to have an area of knowledge or a specialisation they love helping their clients solve problems in. If you have an expertise or specialisation, then it’s probably something very credible you can build a business reputation on – becoming the ‘expert’ in that arena.
Other professions already do this extremely well. You’re unlikely to visit a brain surgeon if you have a sore back. Likewise, you’re not going to see a copyright lawyer if you’re looking to have a Will drawn up. Specialisations are a very solid way to build a reputation. But don’t make the mistake of just listing the services you provide – you’re going to look like every other financial planner or accountant in your marketplace.
2. Focus on attributes that your business can live
Consider this scenario. Jack and Penny are considering their retirement options. Penny Google’s a financial planner in their neighbourhood to help them work out their options. Penny reviews two websites.
The first website has a list of services within their key benefits statement “We provide advice on Investments, Superannuation, Shares, Insurance, Business Insurance, and Retirement Planning.”
The second website has a statement about how they help – the attributes that make them different “We provide caring advice with a smile to help pre-retirees to enjoy their life after work.”
Which one stands out more to Penny do you think?
Sadly the first example reflects most financial planning websites in Australia. Accounting sites aren’t much better, they just list accounting services.
3. Be different and stand out from your competitors
American author Seth Godin once wrote about driving along and noticing a cow in a paddock. At first, the cow captures your attention because let’s face it, most of us down see cows every day. After a while, you notice more cows, and down the road further, you really stop paying attention to them – after a while, they all look the same.
The moral of the story is that if you want to be noticed, then you have to do something different, be remarkable and stand out. The name of Seth’s book is the purple cow. Surely the purple cow gets noticed.
In a crowded marketplace, the one who stands out from the others in a ways that’s valued by the marketplace is likely to get more new business. So how can you stand out?
4. Spend smarter on marketing messages and run a more profitable business
To be frank, I don’t see a lot of smart marketing spending in financial planning and accounting firms when it comes to promoting their reputation. Marketing is poorly understood as a concept and client facing promotion takes too much of an internal focus (what the business does), rather than focusing on the needs, wants and desires of potential clients.
Being all things to all people is a recipe for spending lots of money. Those with an advertising addiction know what I’m talking about…
Making smarter marketing decisions, which in part comes from having a well-defined reputation and promotional messaging is essential if you want to run a profitable business. If you’d like some ideas on where to start building your business reputation grab a copy of Service 7. If you’d like some private marketing consulting, feel free to contact me for a confidential discussion about how I might help you achieve your own business goals.