by Tony Vidler
There are notable differences between high growth professional firms and others when it comes to differentiating themselves. How they choose to express their value and stand out is quite different to the mainstream.
Undoubtedly the average or low growth firms inability to express what their difference is in relation to the bulk of the market is symptomatic of a wider lack of innovation or marketing ability within their firms, which in itself would contribute to them being average performers commercially.
Those that do manage to create a competitive point of difference in the target markets’ mind do so by building and expressing a value proposition which resonates. The most common differentiators in financial services are those things which can be evidenced. Stuff which can be pointed to which proves that the firm can or does deliver what they are promising. THAT is a pretty powerful position to start with.
Things that firms can build a differentiation strategy around which are provable might include:
These are all areas where the firm can accurately evidence any claims they make, and as such a consumer will perceive them as less risky, or perhaps a better fit for purpose. They can become central to building a strong promise to prospects.
Contrast these areas with the wishy-washy marketing lines and supposed value propositions which prevail in professional services that are often rooted in irrelevance. I say “irrelevant” because they are usually areas which a consumer has every right to expect is simply the norm for all service providers in that profession. For example:
Differentiating by saying “we are trustworthy, and fully licensed, and our advice to you is personal” is not marketing in any meaningful manner as far as any consumer is concerned. Such a claim should, to the discerning client, apply to all practitioners in the market. Therefore it becomes irrelevant from a marketing perspective. You are simply promising something which the regulators said you had to anyway if we are honest. There is no strong promise in these at all. If anything, they create questions in consumers minds as to why one might have to draw attention to honesty and so forth.
Professionals who are looking to differentiate, without being irrelevant, but who are struggling to figure out their point of difference and promise to the market can begin to build a standout brand by focussing upon those things which they can prove. At the very least it removes risk for potential clients, which helps them move closer to choosing you. Therein lies a pretty strong promise which can be a differentiator.
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