Some routes to differentiation: The question is, which one to take

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Hinge in its Differentiation Guide for Professional Service Firms suggests 21 ways you can differentiate your business/practice. In one respect, the large choice makes things easier — in another, it is harder — because you need to screen the various choices with your own business/expertise and determine which one is right for you. And as I’ve noted in previous posts in this series, if the differentiation point doesn’t come naturally and immediately to mind, you may have a much bigger problem, because it can be truly challenging (and I think sometimes dangerous) to force a “differentiation” when there isn’t one naturally.

That said, as food for thought, here are the 21 alternatives:

  1. Specialize in an industry;
  2. Specialize in serving a specific role within your client’s organization;
  3. Specialize in offering a particular service;
  4. Offer a truly unique technology or process;
  5. Focus on understanding a particular target audience;
  6. Specialize in serving clients of a specific size;
  7. All of your staff share a specific characteristic or credential;
  8. Specialize in clients that have a common characteristic;
  9. Focus on solving a specific business challenge;
  10. Have one or more individuals who are high-visibility experts in their fields;
  11. Offer a unique business model;
  12. Have a specific geographic focus;
  13. Offer access to a unique set of information not available elsewhere;
  14. Offer a unique set of contacts or relationships not easily accessible;
  15. Do business with a distinctive level of service;
  16. Distinguish yourself by the clients you have;
  17. Focus on the size of your firm;
  18. Emphasize your relationship with a parent firm or partner;
  19. Focus on a notable singular accomplishment;
  20. Specialize in producing a unique or very valuable result; or
  21. Look or act differently than all of your competitors

Alright then, we have a really big list. But how do you decide the next step in making your differentiation decision, and how do you go about things once you do?  I’ll explore these ideas in the next post.

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