In my experience working with solo consultants and professional advisors for 20+ years, most struggle to distinguish themselves from their peers. For clients, many advisors are virtually indistinguishable. Although advisors themselves see themselves as being very different, from a clients’ perspective, they seem to bring the same toolsets, credentials, thinking, schooling, and expertise.
That said, it is not only possible to stand out from your peers. It’s critical to do so – both for the health of your business and your sanity! Why? In short, people pay attention to things that are different. We’re hardwired, physiologically, to do so. And the one thing that’s certain if you want to bring on board a new client is that you need their attention.
So, to make your exit planning practice stand out, you need to offer something different from what your peers are doing. First and foremost, you have to give yourself time to think about how you can be different.
Drawing from my experience, here are six ways you can stand out from your exit planning peers:
- Visible Authority
- Unique Insights
- Unique Approach
- New Media
Proven Ways Your Exit Planning Practice Can Stand-out in the Crowded Market
You can’t be all things to all people. Especially in the world we live in today. Clients can find an advisor next door or around the world quite easily. So, one way to stand out is to specialize in an area where you can add accretive value. That’s what spellcheck told me. I must admit it’s not a word I’ve ever used!
- Take feedback from your past clients on how they think you are different and valuable.
- Define your ideal clients and make a difference for them. You cannot be different from everyone because not everyone will appreciate your difference.
- Identify your area of specialization and share expert advice in your area. It shows that you know your job very well and can be the go-to person for help in this area.
For example, in the UK, when it comes to exit planning for lawyers, you have to worry about issues like run-off insurance that clients in most other sectors don’t have to face. So, your website includes an article or a video talking about the different options for run-off insurance and how you handle it; you will stand out as someone who understands the legal sector.
Prospective clients will know that they will get more value and better service from you than an exit planner who doesn’t understand their sector; they’ll have to learn all these nuances about scratch. And probably the client would have to teach them about it. So, specializing makes you stand out immediately.
2. Visible Authority
Many experts have tons of experience in exit planning, but very few potential clients know about that depth of expertise. They’re experts, but they’re not visible.
You need to get out and show your expertise to the people you choose to serve. You should make presentations, run webinars, make your expertise visible on your website and in your interactions with people, and all your activities.
Like how the Value Scout guys are doing webinars and sharing other valuable content to show their expertise, you need to be the person everyone is talking about and going to and seeing as it relates to exit planning within your area of specialization.
3. Unique Insights
Share your unique insights in your field of specialization. This means that you know something that others don’t, and you share it with your prospective clients to claim your authority in your area of work. How can you do this? You can start with something as simple as doing your unique research and sharing your findings.
For instance, when I first started my own business after working for a couple of big global consulting firms, I wanted to work more locally. I identified that law firms were a good target market for me. But they ignored me because I was not a lawyer by background.
So, I did a research project where I interviewed partners in 20 of the top leading local law firms and asked them about business development best practices. I brought that research together, published it, and did several presentations where I shared the findings.
And once I did that, all of a sudden, things were different. People were interested in what I had to say because I had done the research. Each of them individually had one part of the jigsaw, but I had the whole picture that they did not have individually.
Even though I had no law firm experience, people took notice of the research I had done. I had unique and valuable insights into a critical issue that they could get from anyone else.
You can do that as a research project or by diving into your client base. We have all worked with lots of different clients. If we look at what we did with them, we can pull out unique insights, new ideas, and information. It stands out because no one else has these insights. And it is relevant because it is valuable information about what success is in the areas that a potential client might be interested in.
4. Unique Approach
A unique approach is a methodology or a way of doing things that you have that others in your field don’t. While there are many things that we all do the same in any field, such as common ways of evaluating a company, there will always be other areas where we take a different approach from our peers. For example:
- How do you negotiate a deal?
- How do you build value?
- How do you practically implement what you’ve got to do?
There are lots of different ways and methodologies you can apply.
Usually, we all do things in our unique way – it’s just that we rarely think about it or codify it. So, it’s a matter of bringing that to the surface and showing people how our methodology leads to better results. And that also has the advantage that. If a client has ever dabbled in this before, if they’ve looked at valuing, and then exiting before but got stuck and didn’t make progress, then the fact you have a different approach gives them confidence that it might well work this time because they won’t just be repeating what they did before.
Of course, Value Scout is built on a very clear and structured Exit Planning Framework you can use to get started. Learn more in this webinar, or go here to schedule a demo.
5. New Media
Let me talk about Gary Vaynerchuk here. He’s a big name in social media today and has built a small media empire. But he actually started his career by simply using wine reviews on YouTube to grow his parent’s wine business. When he began about ten years ago, tons of wine reviews had been published for hundreds of years in printed magazines and then more recently on websites and email newsletters.
It would have been just the same as everyone else if he had tried to get visible by doing his wine reviews in those very crowded markets. So instead, he started doing video wine reviews on his YouTube channel. He did the studies and then told people where they could buy the wine, which of course, was his parent’s wine business. And their business took off.
The reality is, if you think of wine buyers, they’re an older audience. When he started his YouTube channel, most of them wouldn’t have been avid YouTube users. But there were enough wine buyers who were YouTube users. And because he did the first Youtube wine reviews, he captured 100% of that small market, as opposed to 0% of the more significant demand of people who read their wine reviews in printed magazines or on websites, which was already so crowded that he just wouldn’t have stood out.
So, another way to stand out is to be an early adopter of new media where some of your prospective clients who are also early adopters are present. You could have been highly successful in exit planning if you had been out on LinkedIn early and often in 2008. Or if you adopted a LinkedIn video strategy early and often around 2017-2018. What is that emerging media for your clients right now? Snapchat? Instagram? Something else? It depends on your clientele, of course.
People have different personalities; you have to play to your strengths; not everyone is comfortable facing an audience and making presentations. Some have casual personalities, while others prefer a much more formal style of working. Whatever your personality type, you need to project it in every communication, be it on your LinkedIn profile, website, or anything else. It helps people know what they can expect after connecting with you. Also, in this way, you attract people with whom you will be comfortable working.
For instance, I came across a brand strategist recently on LinkedIn. Rather than take himself too seriously, he used humor in his profile by labeling himself a nerd. And his profile image said, pick my brain…, at your own risk. It might not be what everyone wants to hear, but the use of humor got me intrigued. I like people who are kind of funny. So, I connected with him, and I now get his updates.
So, I am not saying you have to use humor yourself. Instead, reflect your personality to connect with people the way you’d like to work.
Suppose you are a scholarly kind of a guy, and it is your strength, bring that personality aspect out and let people see it. And some people will gel with it, and others might not. But you will be their number one choice for the people who are set with it, which you need to win the sale.
7. Concluding Thoughts
The six ways of standing out in the crowded market are interlinked, and in reality, you need to do some mix-and-match to be successful. For example, if you specialize, becoming an authority in that smaller niche becomes a lot easier. If you have unique insights and ideas, you can combine that with a scholarly presentational style.
If you want to understand this topic in more depth, you can access the webinar recording and presentation slides. To learn more about me and how I can help you grow your exit planning practice, visit my website and download my Value-Based Marketing Blueprint.