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Speak to the Pain to STAND OUT

A few weeks ago I was having breakfast with a seasoned business development professional at a large CPA firm. Over coffee he asked for my advice on something that was puzzling him: “The company description in our proposals sounds like every other CPA firm out there. How do we differentiate ourselves in describing our services when we all do the same thing? How can we make our firm stand out?”

And that's the problem right there. When describing their firm, most people make the mistake of providing a boring overview of their services, often with the even more deadly intro: “Founded in 1987…” 

To stand out and get the attention of your target audience, focus on the problems you solve. Show prospective clients that you understand what they’re going through and have the solutions they need. Don't waste precious time on the process (i.e., services—which clients are likely familiar with), focus on the unique benefits you bring. 

Here are some examples, from a variety of professions.

Jim brings an innovative approach to preventing elder financial abuse and resolving family conflicts. (Elder law attorney)

From unraveling messy finances, to solving cash flow problems, to dealing with tax controversies, we are tenacious in solving our clients’ problems. (Business management firm)

I excel in creating leverage that gives my clients the advantage in lease transactions. (Commercial tenant rep)

We protect individuals and their families from the threats of living too long, dying too soon or becoming disabled. (Insurance company)

It follows that if you want to create messages that resonate with your target market, you need a clear understanding of your ideal clients, specifically, their problems and the solutions they seek. Think of some of your real life ideal clients. What problems do they bring to you? What do they say about you when complimenting your services? Imagine you are speaking to potential clients personally when writing a proposal. This makes it more human, more interesting and compelling.  

And practice “word economy.” What’s this? It means getting your point across concisely and not dwelling on details when you don't have to. In these days of short attention spans, word economy is essential in communicating your message.  

In the end, all your clients care about is what’s in it for them. So if you truly want to differentiate your firm, show that you understand what your clients are going through. Put yourself in your clients’ shoes and “speak to their pain.”