The time on my bedside clock is four hours and 45 minutes behind the actual time.
Is it because I am trying to trick myself into staying up late so I can binge-watch old episodes of Derry Girls? No, but now that you mention it, that’s not a bad idea.
The real reason is that we had a power outage about four months ago. Only my wife, Linda, knows how to change the clock time, and since I only need it if I get up in the middle of the night, the fix just hasn’t happened.
Frankly, I have grown to like my middle-of-the-night, time-calculating routine: Add five hours, subtract 15 minutes.
So, if I wake up and the clock reads 11 PM, I add five to get 16, which is 4 AM (try to stay with me, Americans) and subtract 15 minutes to get 3:45 AM.
I think what I like most about this little game of mine is that I am the only person on Earth (well, other than you now, I suppose) who knows how to tell time on that particular clock.
Granted, when it comes to superpowers, mine is a distant second behind X-Ray vision or getting along with your brother-in-law’s new wife at Thanksgiving.
But it’s unique to me, as is my fascination with this little diversion. Just ask Linda, who finds it borderline idiotic.
What Do You Believe In?
When you sell a professional service, it’s hard (maybe impossible) to stand out based on your experience, credentials, or capability. Everyone you compete with who’s worth taking seriously has whatever you have.
What they don’t have, however, is your particular approach or point of view – the things you consider essential … or just fascinating.
Those things can serve to separate you from the pack. And separating from the pack is pretty much the point of marketing.
For example, here are some things I believe regarding small or independent professional service firm marketing:
- It’s way easier to get the people you already know to listen, refer, and hire you than it is to get strangers to do the same. So focus on tactics that keep you visible with those people and feel free to ignore everything else.
- Beware of people who are too eager to hire you. Desperate people are not thinking clearly and they make lousy clients.
- The narrower your focus, in terms of what you say you do and who you say you work with, the more work you will have. Having more theoretical clients has no correlation with having more actual clients.
I could go on, but you get the idea. These are things I feel strongly about; foundational things regarding my approach to marketing.
So, am I right? No. (Although I am unnervingly attractive.)
Someone else, who may have an equal amount of success and experience, may take an entirely different approach.
And that’s really the point. The people who feel drawn to the things we write or say are our best clients and referral sources. The people who are not are a better fit for someone else.
Just to be clear, I am not talking here about describing what you do, sharing your personality, or having a niche, although all of those things are also important.
I’m talking about having and expressing a point of view regarding the work you do and the body of knowledge you are steeped in.
Maybe you are … an attorney who thinks people who take an adversarial approach to negotiation always come away with less on behalf of their clients.
Maybe you are … a leadership coach who thinks assessment tools are a waste of time.
Maybe you are … a recruiter who thinks interviews are so subjective that they shouldn’t even be part of the hiring process.
In all three of those (totally made up) examples, qualified people in those same fields might strongly disagree.
Make Your List
Some things to ask yourself…
Where do you break ranks with your fellow (insert your profession here)?
What pieces of advice make you cringe whenever you hear them offered by someone else in your industry?
What “best practices” in your field do you think are misguided?
What points or clarifications do you find yourself making to clients over and over?
It’s unlikely you can do all this in one sitting. But if you start paying attention and keeping track, it won’t take long before you come up with a list of your beliefs.
Then start talking and writing about them – with clients, with prospects, with colleagues, with your brother-in-law’s new wife.
The goal is to get a handle on the world according to you – and to keep talking about it.
That’s how you become known for something. It’s a beacon that helps the people who are a good match find their way to you.
Gotta run. It’s lunchtime (I think).
- What superpower would you most like to possess?
- What odd habit do you have that makes your significant other roll their eyes?
- What’s something you believe that others in your profession tend to disagree with?
Share your answers below…