Recently I was preparing a keynote presentation for a large group of Financial Advisers. I was doing my homework, checking out their websites, figuring out what the best message was that I could give these professionals and something slowly started to dawn on me.

In doing my research, I realized that virtually every site I visited used the same words to describe what they did and most started off by saying something like "we are different to other financial advisers". Then they went on to explain how they are exactly the same.

This intrigued me as it seemed like such a fundamental marketing mistake. I checked out fifty accounting websites and every single one of them said they do tax (wow, what a surprise) and business advice. And they all offer amazing service because they put their clients first.

The more industries I investigated, the more obvious it became that the vast majority of businesses within an industry don't know how to say they are different. And selling 101 is all about pointing out how you are different not how you the same.

I think there is something comforting about being the same, it feels like there is certainty, but the problem is it also makes you beige and blend into the background. We live in a world with enormous choice and businesses that stand out are the ones that get noticed by creating real emotional connection.

So how do you explain that you are different? Stop listing the services you offer for starters. Start telling potential customers why you do what you do, what it is that got you started in this business, what are you passionate about, where your business heading, what are you greatest successes and what gets you out of bed in the morning?

In other words, let them know more about the people in the business, their dreams, their aspirations, and their goals. Don't tell them what you do, they will figure that out, but tell them how you do what you do, with passion, with energy, with conviction, with integrity.

Many of us have been trained to write about our businesses in the third person, to make it formal. Those days are gone. No one wants to read some stuffy copy about an organization, they want the down and dirty story, the struggles, the overcoming adversity, the successes and the characters behind them. Talk about your customers, your suppliers, and the charities you support and why you support them.

Put all of this into a great story and share it. It might feel a little exposing at first, but I guarantee that you will immediately get more engagement with your customers, they will feel like they know you and they will do business with you for the real reasons, not some hyped up corporate lingo that no one believes any more.

Now, more than any other time, we need to go to great lengths to tell people how our business is different, not how it is the same.

Published on: Aug 11, 2015