Figure Out What Differentiates You
When someone asks you what makes you unique, do you suddenly feel like the least interesting person in the world, like there’s absolutely nothing that differentiates you from hundreds, thousands, maybe millions of others? If so, you’re not alone. While we can often see what makes our friends, co-workers, and even competitors unique, it can be really hard to identify what makes us stand out from the crowd.
If you work for yourself, it’s important to identify the things that set you apart. This is central to defining your brand.
I recently presented a seminar to a group of real estate agents. While the focus was on helping Realtors promote themselves, the issues pertain to anyone defining their own brand and marketing their own business. Here are some highlights of the day’s talk.
Four Keys to Marketing Success
I love it (not really) when people ask me if I can “do an ad” or “make a website” before they’ve figured out what they have to offer or what they want to accomplish. First things first. Before you jump into marketing your business, consider these four things.
- Brand Promise – Be clear and consistent about who you are as a business person and how you meet your clients’ needs. Remember, relationships are based on TRUST and a consistent approach builds trust.
- Targeted Message – Define your target market(s) specifically and create your marketing messages accordingly. “Specializing in residential properties” is not specific enough.
- Long-Term Goals – Set big-picture goals about what you want to achieve and how you want to achieve it: this year, next year and during the next five years.
- Measurable Results – Use your long-term goals to make to set short-term targets that are clear, measurable, and attainable. How much money do you want to make by when? How many hours do you want to work? What skill or knowledge do you want to obtain? What can you achieve in the next 30 days, 90 days, 180 days?
Defining Your Brand by Writing a Bio
In developing your brand, you’ve got to figure out what differentiates you from your competitors.
A great exercise to help nail down your branding is to write a biography, one that shares your best attributes while explaining how you’ll address your clients’ needs.
In the seminar, I asked the Realtors to write down words that described them. Many wrote things like “friendly, helpful, and hard-working.” These are fine, but they don’t set a Realtor apart. So as an example, we started to dig into what it means to be helpful. It was amazing how many different definitions people came up with. The more concrete they were in describing the ways they help clients, the more their individual personalities came through. One experienced Realtor said, “I really listen, so clients get exactly what they want.” Another said, “I’m super organized, so I save my clients a lot of time.” Still another said, “I’m all about getting things right the first time–I’m careful and methodical.”
The more concrete they were in describing the ways they help clients, the more their individual personalities came through.
The sooner you realize that you’re not going to be the perfect fit for everyone, the sooner you can start thinking about who you’re best suited to work with. If you love technology but your prospective client has a flip phone and a Gateway computer, this may not be a match made in heaven. If, on the other hand, you can geek out on the pros and cons of the iPhoneX versus the Samsung Galaxy S9, this could be the start of a fun and rewarding relationship. The point is, you will be more successful if your services, your personality, and your work style mesh well.
If you’ve never given much thought to your brand or the attributes that make you unique, you might enjoy taking the Myers-Briggs assessment (16personalities.com) or working with a coach like my friend Marc Carson (marccarsoncoaching.com). It’s amazing what a little insight can do for you, both about your own strengths and weaknesses, and those of others.
Once you’ve got a good overview of your personality type, it’s time to get specific.
- Write down at least a dozen words that describe you; then choose your favorites—the ones that describe you best or that make you stand out. For example, I’d say I’m professional, positive, energetic and genuine.
- Then dig into each word and see if you can get even more specific. Be as specific and concrete as possible as you come up with words or phrases that describe you. The goal here is to really define who you are as a business person. For me, “professional” means getting projects done on time and on budget. It means only offering services I know I can deliver in a way that exceeds expectations. For “positive,” I really mean that I see clients’ challenges as interesting puzzles to solve. I am incurably optimistic and believe that with enough perseverance and focus, we can do almost anything. As for “energetic,” that’s it. I have more energy than the average hummingbird, so I can take on a huge load and have a great time doing it. And “genuine” means helping clients I believe in. I can’t promote something or someone I don’t believe in. I want to make the world a better place. I love working with clients in education, healthcare, and community building. I like to work for employers who take care of their employees, pay a fair wage and honor their work. So these are my business principles, and I find clients who fit with me.
- See if you can narrow your list to your core traits. Select the descriptions that are most accurate and most important in attracting the business you want.
- Then ask friends, colleagues and others you trust for their feedback. Sometimes we have blind spots, and it’s important to hear from people who will give you the praise and/or criticism you need.
If you’d like help defining your brand, get in touch. This is one of the things we do best.