The Case Study: 

A major challenge facing small business owners is how to get their business noticed. This is especially the case in today’s competitive world. A senior partner of an accounting firm realized that business owners saw accounting as a commodity service. A commodity service is a business that renders goods or services widely available and interchangeable with those provided by another company. 

When a prospective client is faced with a series of very similar-sounding service providers, they often use the provider’s fees (or prices) to determine value. For example, all things being equal, any qualified accountant should be capable of looking after their needs. Therefore, the accountant with the lowest fee for the same service seems to be the best value. It’s become harder to justify being more expensive when you’re perceived as offering the same service as your equally qualified competitors. 

Twenty accountants, holistic health practitioners, realtors, or business coaches are all in the same room; why you? Look at small businesses’ marketing messages, services, and promises in any industry. They look remarkably similar, and the cookie-cutter approach stops them from standing out. They simply become camouflaged among others who seem pretty much the same. 

The accountant asked me for some ideas to make his practice stand out from the crowd. I gave him several options and done immediately captured his attention. I suggested he offer his clients the opportunity to network with each other. Initially, we created a monthly networking event, and it was an instant hit. 

The Outcome: 

We invited his clients to attend (for free) and asked them to bring a friend along. Over 150 people attended the first event. There he was, networking with a room full of local business owners, around 50 of whom were prospective clients, and he had zero competition from other accountants. I suggested he get a sponsor for each event, who would cover the financial cost in return for being mentioned in the marketing of the event and the chance to address the group for 15 minutes. So, these events didn’t cost my client a penny. 

From the moment he started networking with his clients as a part of his provided service, he found he no longer had to compete for business based on his fees. His conversion rates went through the roof, too. 

So, he could charge higher than average fees and win more clients than before. His client retention improved as fewer clients were tempted to leave. 

Now prospective clients would meet with him and many of his competitors, and HIS practice stood out. His accounting practice was the only one offering to help them grow their business and meet new potential customers. His practice was the only one proactively connecting them with hundreds of local businesses. Even if his fees were 25% higher than all his predictable, lookalike competitors, it was a tremendous added value

 for many prospective clients.

You need the courage to move away from that cookie-cutter approach to get started standing out. It feels comfortable just to follow what’s expected of you… to follow the flock. Doing your own thing with your ideas is a little scary. It also takes the commitment to get creative and look for something you can offer, which will make your business stand out for all the right reasons. 

My best advice on this is to look for inspiration outside your industry. Something common in one industry can be rare or non-existent in another. By adopting suitable ideas from an unrelated industry and making them your own, it’s possible to create a very attractive commercial advantage. 

If you want to explore a standout in the marketplace strategy, I can help! 

Shelly is committed to teaching you exactly what to do or can alternatively execute on your behalf. As a serial entrepreneur, she has hands-on experience and wisdom to move you quickly towards your desired results. She is an inspiring strategist and brilliant wordsmith, believing that what we say and how we say it, ultimately compels others to engage with us. Shelly is considered one of the top business coaches in today’s business world.