If you haven’t gotten the memo yet we are living in a sea of sameness.
Regardless of what field you are in I bet there are tens, hundreds, thousands – or more – people that offer the same service as you.
A long time ago geography fixed this problem for you. You would do business with people in your geography. Match your expertise and their geography and you’d do business.
The internet and modern communication has changed all that.
But it’s also given rise to the sea of sameness.
To a buyer we all look alike. Every photographer, copywriter, speaker, attorney, stylist, freelance writer, start-up, etc. generally say the same things about who they are. “I am talented.” “I have experience.” “I’ve done this many times.” “I care more.” “I am different.”
To many buyers it all sounds the same.
So how do you get business in the sea of sameness?
Well after having struggled – for years – with folks thinking all lawyers, all consultants and all speakers are the same I’ve made some breakthroughs.
And I’ve found some lessons for us. Let’s jump into it.
Tip 1: Niches Are Something, But Not All That
One of the “standard” pieces of advice is that you should niche down your business.
And I’ll say there is nothing wrong with that advice. If it makes sense for your business to be really good at one specific thing then do that.
My umbrella is business planning and execution. That’s what I focus on because it’s where my career has led me.
This means that in a year like 2020 I am already scheduled to speak, or negotiating to speak, on topics like: sexual harassment avoidence, unknown issues with LLCs business owners should know, how to make effective partnership agreements, negotiation, contract formation, how to raise money, how to market your business, brand implementation and more.
The point is my niche is broad and I think it is kind of a niche in itself. No one knows how all the pieces connect these days. And I work on helping with that too. One of my upcoming coaching clients wants me for that reason — to help them put together their universal strategy.
It’s hard either way to build a business. With a super niche you can usually charge higher rates. At the same time, you’ll have a point of connection with very few prospects so you’ll spend a lot of time and energy meeting with people who are not a fit.
I do recommend that you find a focus, a way to describe that focus, and stick to that focus. For me it’s as simple as helping business owners and leaders with business planning and execution. In that one sentence I can tell if someone is a fit or not.
What’s your filter?
Tip 2: Capitalize On Your Uniqueness
It usually doesn’t take someone long after meeting me to stumble into my Do Business Differently(™) brand. They probably see one of my “crazy suits” if I am with them in-person. Or they see it on my website or LinkedIn.
They know from the jump I am unique. And it usually takes a few minutes to tell the backstory that I wear the unusual suits to encourage my fellow business owners to think about how they can Do Business Differently(™). After that they get it.
Now I tell others their answer is probably not crazy suits.
But there needs to be something unique about your business in this sea of sameness. Geography is not enough any more (you can’t just be the accountant in the Dallas suburb of Frisco). You need something that you have that no one – of few others – have.
Beyond my Do Business Differently(™) brand and the different thinking mindset it automatically conveys I also feel I have a unique blend of skills and depth of experience in business planning that few others have.
What to do you have – it’s usually going to be a combination of things – that no one else has? How do you convey that?
Tip 3: Show, Don’t Tell
I ended the last tip by saying “convey” your uniqueness.
The problem today is talk is cheaper than ever.
It costs you virtually nothing to say you are great. And everyone does across social media, their webpages and in meetings.
That’s why we are in a show, and don’t tell era.
Sure, you need to know your points of greatness. But then you mention them as you are building your reputation. But your points of greatness really get embedded when you show them.
When you speak, when you are on a podcast, when you are in a meeting doing your thing – that’s when people believe it.
You’ll need to talk about your thing to prime the pump. You’ll have to get people thinking about you for that thing. But the real connection comes when others see it, not hear it.
So how can you build to showing, not telling, what you can do? Where can you execute it with a real client? What stage can you get on? What podcast or radio show needs you?
I get very few clients from saying what I can do. People do hire me when they see what I can do and need it in their business world.
Tip 4: Be Consistent
Part of showing what you can do is to be consistent.
You need to take your uniqueness (Tip 2) and be consistent about showing it (Tip 3).
This brings a lot of power for a few reasons.
First, people don’t trust something that just pops up. If you tell me you are a tax accountant in Orlando, Florida I usually yawn. OK. Maybe you are here today, gone tomorrow.
But if you show me, with constant articles, videos, ads or appearances that you are constantly at work doing accounting in Orlando, Florida I now believe it. I’ve seen it in action. It’s real – not just you saying it.
Second, clients don’t usually need what you have the first time you show it. I mean what small percentage of the population needs me to give a speech this week? There are a lot of conferences out there but only a few need my topics, for their audience, right now.
But, at the same time, there are a lot of people that might need me in 3 months, 6 months or a year.
Part of being consistent is being able to be there when they need you. If you are consistently there showing who you are when they need you they’ll make the mental connection.
Tip 5: Take Momentum
In the sea of sameness it’s hard to get momentum. Everything seems to be against it. No one notices you and you are lost.
But at some point momentum will start. And I encourage you to plan for it and to build on it.
In my career I have gone from big law firm attorney to a speaker, consultant and lawyer on business planning. But it was a building of momentum that got me there.
My big law background got me my first clients and speaking engagements. Those speaking engagements let me start speaking more. The large amount of speaking I did got me on a TEDx stage. The TEDx stage has gotten me countless interviews and other stages. Those other stages have gotten me more business.
There were a lot more pieces of momentum than what I mentioned there – but the core point applies to all of us: when you start being consistent and unique things will start to come together and you can build on it.
Plan for that. And work to that.
Tip 6: Show Your Growth
One of the key points of momentum is to show your growth.
Just like others don’t trust everything you say they may not trust that you are growing.
But if they see you growing they’ll believe it.
Use social media, articles, interviews and other strategies to show you are growing. Let that person that thought you didn’t have the experience or weren’t good enough 3 years ago see that you now are. Let others that you don’t know see that you are the new “hot” thing.
Showcase your uplevelling and it will add to your momentum and get you out of the sea of sameness.
Tip 7: Adjust As Needed
As with many things in business you’ll need to adjust over time. Your early strategies to stand out from the crowd may stop working or need revision.
After starting my law firm I did a lot of 1-on-1 networking. That worked for a bit.
Then I saw I was getting more leverage from speaking. And that worked for a bit.
Then I struggled to get better speaking engagements that would pay me or would be worth my time.
So I started more writing and hosting my own events. That is fueling leads and more speaking.
The common theme was my goal never changed. But my means to my goal is up for constant adjustment. Each adjustment added fire to the original goal.
Keep looking for how to stand out. Keep adjusting based on what is working and what is not.
What To Do Next
So you might be wondering how to apply this to your world.
You need to start with where you are in your business journey. From there work through these tips and find your uniqueness and how to express it.
And if you are struggling on finding your unique and how to express it find a good coach or advisor that can help you do so.
NOTE: This article is a piece develop a small portion of the content of the book tentatively called The Journey: Finding Your Place From Entrepreneur to CEO being co-authored by The Our Shawn McBride and Ann Gatty. If you want updates on the book including the possibility of joining our release team or getting one of the first copies please join our mailing list here.
By: The Our Shawn McBride, is the business nerd and long-time business attorney that focuses on changes of ownership in businesses. He works with business owners that know their business is about more than themselves to get ready for their future through keynotes, training and personalized solutions. In furtherance of this he hosts The Future Done Right(TM) Show where he collects, digests and gives lessons and insights on The Future of Business. If you want regular content on the future of business subscribe to get new blog posts from us here.
You’ll quickly notice his unusual suits which he uses open the conversation of how businesses should Do Business Differently™.
The Our Shawn is based in DeLand, Florida (between Orlando, Florida and Daytona Beach, Florida) and Dallas, Texas where he keeps offices. You can also find Shawn on webinars or traveling nationally or internationally for speaking engagements.
Check me out at: www.planningdoneright.com
Do you really want to make plans that work?
Future Done Right™ YouTube Channel – Check out this YouTube Channel for interviews and discussions about the future of business.
FREE preview copy of Business Blunders! – This is my first book and it looks at common business mistakes that I’ve seen in my years of working with business owners. This will allow you to avoid those issues in your business!
And a Little Thank You?
If you like this article can you leave a clap for it on Medium.com?