Guest blog: Tamera Loerzel
We love coming into firms and asking partners, principals, managers, staff and administrators this simple question: “What’s special, unique or different about your firm? Why would I work with you instead of another firm?”
In our experience, this question is a stumper for most! Yet, this is the question on the mind of every prospect, most of your clients and many prospective and existing staff, too. While it can be challenging to differentiate your firm, services and team from other accounting firms, it’s critical that you identify what makes you special, unique or different. And, it doesn’t have to be a long list — because people’s attention spans are short and they’ll decide if you’re different off a few ideas.
When you really look, you will find something truly special or unique about your firm. Find those two or three things that set you apart or that you’re proud of. To do so, form a committee charged with defining your firm’s positioning and ask them to assess your firm’s strengths and answer the following questions:
- What makes us special or unique (that our target audience will care about)?
- What difference do we make in our clients’ lives?
- How do we compare to others?
- What do we most strive to be or do?
Some of the answers will be “dogs,” but this is a brainstorming exercise – you have to really work at it to get the right ideas together. Then, your committee can identify the top 10 or so “themes” and create potential positioning statements to validate with your team and clients. Be careful not to end up being like everyone else in your quest to be different and refrain from using old clichés such as “trusted business advisor,” “not your average accountant,” or “small firm feel/big firm resources.”
Once you’ve agreed on your positioning statement based on the two or three things that make you different, you’ll be ready to develop supporting words and phrases that you can weave into your marketing copy on your web site, marketing collateral and sales proposals, and recruiting materials. Be sure to incorporate WIIFM (what’s in it for me) – or benefits – in your positioning statement so that you clearly articulate the difference you will make in the lives of your clients and in their businesses.
Realistically you won’t be able to incorporate your positioning statement in all your marketing vehicles at once, so develop a plan to do so over a 6-12 month period. Create a communications schedule and calendar that includes both internal and external constituencies:
- Start with those “closest” to you – your team
- Then, tell your clients about your new positioning, letting them know they’ll begin to see it in different places starting with your web site
- Issue a press release about your new positioning
- Incorporate it into your recruiting and orientation materials
- Update printed materials or premiums as they need to be replaced
Provide regular updates to your team so they are aware of changes as they occur and find opportunities to explore how you “live” your positioning statements in team meetings and in other team communications, such as client success stories.
What action can you take today to begin to define – or refine – your differentiators to make it easier for your prospects, clients and team members to choose your firm over your competitors?
Tamera Loerzel is a partner of ConvergenceCoaching, LLC, a leadership and marketing consulting and coaching firm that helps leaders achieve success. Learn more about the company and its services at www.convergencecoaching.com.