Today’s marketplace is cut-throat. That’s true for most business sectors, including most services-based businesses, but also other industries like retail, manufacturing, and so on. Service-based businesses, like lawyers, accountants, financial planners and recruiters, are particularly interesting to focus on. Typically, there are hundreds and thousands of similar firms out there positioning themselves to compete for business. Some firms are standing out and are seen as “the lighthouse” or the authority in the marketplace.
They therefore typically demand higher fees, are sought after and don’t have to chase clients because clients actually come to them for help. So how do you stand out and position your business to become an authority in the marketplace today? I would like to cover three things that work today and hopefully tomorrow too (though I cannot guarantee the future): ratings and reviews, omnipresence and the power of being a published bestselling author.
Ratings and reviews
Ratings, reviews, and testimonials are becoming more and more important because people are overwhelmed by the variety of offers. Consequently, they are looking at good old word of mouth recommendations, or “social proof” as we call it these days. Reviews and ratings are one way to do it. Having said that, leveraging new tools provides an excellent opportunity to stand out - for example the business listings feature, Google My Business - because not everybody is already actively applying the concept. It’s good practice today to ask your clients for a public review, on Google+ or on Facebook, depending on your business. For some businesses, Facebook is more relevant than Google+.
Testimonials are also very important for your website. You should make testimonial gathering core to the processes you follow when delivering your services. As soon as you know your client is happy, even if it’s an ongoing project, it’s worth asking them if they’d be happy to provide a testimonial. You could write it for them and give them the option to tweak or make wholesale edits to what you’ve produced - just make it as easy and frictionless for them as possible.
Omnipresence is the practice of getting in front of your potential customers as often as you can in as many relevant channels. Having a robust social media strategy that supports your offline presence can be a good way of achieving this. It is the provision of regular content, especially the reuse and repurposes of existing content. The best example is a book which can be used in multiple ways for blogs, posts, tweets, etc.
Next, you should start automating and scheduling content provision across the various social media channels. You can even post or tweet the same message several times a day because only a fraction of your followers is seeing your posts and tweets anyhow.
And finally, you should look at retargeting, which means you capture who is visiting your website and other landing pages and then start marketing to this audience via various channels like Facebook and other platforms.
Become an author
The third way to stand out is by publishing your own book. Imagine being a bestselling author in your field. This can either be the foundation of a new business or business area or can strongly support existing business. You can use the book as a marketing tool and pre-educate your prospects and clients so they get to know you before the actual meeting.
This can work for basically all services industries, but I have also seen it work for industries as unique as “balloon art”. Having a (physical) book makes such a difference and is an investment worth for years to come. Imagine pitching to a potential client, you’re the one who’s published the book in your field of expertise and your competitor hasn’t, hell you could even bundle the book in with the pitch - I guarantee you it’ll increase your win rate!
Another benefit of a book is that you can get major media attention across newspapers, radio, television, and more. You could even use your literary masterpiece to test a new business area. Why not publish a book about a specific topic you want to pursue and see what feedback you are getting? At the same time, you already position yourself in that area of the market. There are many more ways you can utilise your bestselling book, so this is just to get you started thinking. On the literary masterpiece comment, it doesn’t need to be like that at all - even the least experienced writer can publish a book on their area of expertise, you might just need to lean on your editors a little bit harder than somebody with stacks of experience! Or you can utilise complete done-for-you services that minimise your level of time investment.
In summary, three areas can determine your position in your marketplace and whether or not you will stand out from competitors: earning positive ratings, reviews and testimonials; creating an omnipresence through a targeted social media strategy, and of course publishing a book.