by Kathy DalPra
One of the biggest challenges I see service professionals struggle with when building an online presence is differentiation...or looking different from everyone else in their field. And, in my humble opinion, it’s the #1 reason why they aren’t consistently pre-closing the sale through their website.
You may not like to hear this, but the reality is that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of people who do exactly what you do in your region and you’re all fighting for a slice of the pie.
Which means, if you want to get the attention of your ideal client...and fast...you’ve got to set yourself apart. You have to offer something that no one can compete on. You’ve got to de-commoditize yourself.
As long as you’re a commodity...meaning that there are lots of similar versions of “you” in the marketplace to choose from and they all look pretty much the same...you’re going to be playing the price war and losing a lot of business to Sally Smith down the road who actually does look different.
So, how do you know if you’re still positioning yourself as a commodity in your field?
- Well, if you focus on the TASKS of what you, or services, then you’re a commodity. Any professional in your field could offer the same exact service if they wanted to.
- If you’re answer to “what makes you different?” is that you hold a certain certification...you’re a commodity. Many other professionals hold that same certification and, more importantly, most of your prospects don’t care. They only care what you can do for them, not which tests you’ve passed.
- If you’re telling prospects that you’re special because you love what you do or you have the lowest prices in town or you ‘do it all’, then, yes, you’re still a commodity. Again, many others in your industry have a passion for their work, have reasonable prices and offer one-stop-shopping. This alone does not make you different.
Differentiation is not about the nuts and bolts, or tasks, of what you do. It’s not about how much you love your work, whether you’re certified, how many years you’ve been in business or even how many different services you can provide in one place. And as long as you’re focused on these things, you’re going to struggle to pre-close clients online.
To de-commoditize yourself, you’ve got to tap into what’s truly special and unique about YOU...your background, your story, your process or approach, your perspective or your natural God-given talent that is effortless for you. The only way to ever successfully rise above the competition online and become that ‘horse of a different color’ is to showcase your core genius through your website.
Now, since I’m my own best guinea pig, I’ll share with you an example of what I’m talking about so you can start to get a sense of what de-commoditization looks like in reality.
We all have competition, but my field in particular is noted as one of the most cut-throat of this generation. Everywhere you turn you can find a website developer. They are a dime a dozen and you don’t even have to look for them to find one! Uncle Sammy’s brother-in-law is a programmer, that guy from your networking group is a graphic designer and sites like GoDaddy turn you into a website creator with DIY programs. So, if anyone can make a good example of differentiation, it’s me! I’ve got more competition than most of my clients put together!
However, none of it ruffles my feathers. In fact, to be honest, I don’t even recognize most of these people as my competition at all because I’m coming from a place that is SO different with a one-of-a-kind story that my ideal client can relate to. When you stack me up against these other folks, we don’t even look like we’re on the same planet.
Unlike most of the developers out there, I didn’t get into this business because I was a programmer or designer that needed to drum up work in the new Internet age. No, my story is MUCH different.
I got into this business because I was tired of entrepreneurs like me being led down the wrong path by so-called 'website experts'. As a new entrepreneur, like many of my clients, I was trying to navigate my way through this whole “website stuff.” As a newbie, I did what any business owner would do: I trusted those same exact developers I just mentioned to build me a web presence for my part-time hobby that would generate leads and close sales. Only problem? It didn’t work. I spent thousands and thousands of dollars hiring “experts” to help me profit online and, in the end, all I got was a really fat bill and countless hours of wasted energy trying to make my website do its job.
It was this situation that made me determined to get educated about what it takes to create a website that really produces results. Much of it I learned through trial and error and the rest I pieced together from thousands of industry sources. When I launched my second website, it was immediately profitable, even though I was doing it part-time.
The thing that none of my competitors can touch...what really sets me apart...is that I personally went through the SAME exact struggles that my target client is going through and came out on the other side an expert at identifying and fixing them. So, instead of my prospects going out there and hiring another “me-too” programmer that doesn't know the first thing about what it really takes to pre-close the sale online and can't relate at all to the frustrations of a business owner that's not website-savvy, they can work with someone who has lived in their shoes...someone who’s been there, done that and figured it all out from their exact perspective...and someone who has the process to prove it, with my proprietary Online Close™ method.
That’s what sets me apart. It's my story that only I have lived and it’s impossible to commoditize. I own the story, I own my personal experience and I own the process I developed as a result of it.
It’s so simple, it’s right in front of your nose! Can you see how making this one change in your business can put you in your own category entirely, completely removing you from the commoditization game for good?
It’s been a miracle in my business, a blessing for my clients and I know it can work for you too!
Kathy DalPra, The Online Close™ Expert, helps solopreneurs get more inquiries, book more clients and close more sa1es through their website. To receive f'ree articles on how to turn more visitors into paying clients and profit online doing what you love, sign up for her weekly ezine "The Online Close™" at www.theonlineclose.com.