Standing out from the crowd of competitors

The market is overcrowded. Competition is stiff. And there is nearly a constant stream of messages, ads and offers flying at us. On average, we are exposed to approximately 5,000 messages a day. To compete and grow your business you must stand out, but how?

I’m often called on for my expertise in developing messages and campaigns that grab attention and that spur people to action. Over the years, I’ve noticed a surprising, but repeating theme, a default belief if you will. That theme is similarity.

As if it were written in their DNA, business owners seem to look around at what others are doing and saying in their space and pretty much copy them. And it’s not only with their advertising. It’s often in the way that they talk about their offering. The way they run their business. And the way that they sell. It’s unclear to me why this happens, but what’s crystal clear to me is this is not the way to stand out in a crowd of competitors.

Recently, I worked with a personal injury law firm to create a completely new marketing program and messaging that enabled them to stand out and grow one area of the firm by more than 300%. Interestingly, when I started with them, they too were copying the advertising strategy of other law firms, and they were existing, but they were not growing.

Here’s what happened ...

I’ve never worked in a field that is more competitive and overcrowded than the Personal Injury Attorney market. Almost everywhere you turn you see or hear an ad about being hurt, injured or mistreated in some way. And nearly all those ads enthusiastically direct you to call the meanest, nastiest and toughest attorney that ever walked. My client had joined the chorus and was just another face in the crowd, and it wasn’t working.

The first step in standing out from a perceived sea of equals was to closely observe what their competitors were doing with their marketing.

I discovered that nearly every message was hyped and had a sharp edge to it. “Over the top” was the norm. To stand out, we had a number of options available, so I began looking into our typical customer.

Research revealed the ideal customer for the firm was a blue-collar worker, people who seldom have a reason to hire an attorney. Without prior experience or people around them who they trust, how would they choose?

Relatability became our focus. Instead of powering over our potential client, we wanted to be approachable. I noticed that the attorneys in those ‘in your face’ ads were generally wearing dark suits. Further, they were in nice, expansive, expensive looking offices. All of which worked to intimidate and scare, not welcome and reassure.

We knew that our target client was a person who likely had never needed or even spoken with an attorney. It was all new to them. So, we marketed differently than our competitors. And it made all the difference.

Our attorney was low-key, not screaming and shouting.
 He stood closer to the camera which created a more personal feeling, like you were in a conversation with him. It was friendly and warm. It felt like he was engaged and talking directly to you, not at you.

We eliminated the dark suit. Our attorney wore a white shirt, collar unbuttoned, tie loosened and sleeves rolled-up and ready to get to work. He delivered his lines in a conversational tone, with 
a friendly look on his face. No screaming. No scaring. And no big city attorney feel.

Within just a few months, we began getting feedback that confirmed our approach. People began commenting that our firm was different. They said that there was something that seemed familiar about us. They felt comfortable with us and saw us as very professional.

The bottom line – they could relate to our attorney. They saw him as someone who they could trust and who would lend a helping hand instead of someone who crushed people without regard. And the results followed.

Within two years, the firm increased their nursing home abuse cases by 300% and their automobile accident cases by 8%. Not only did they grow their bottom line, they increased their market share despite competing head-to-head with the largest Personal Injury Firm on the East Coast that had just moved into our market and was spending six times more advertising dollars than we were.

If you are in a highly-competitive market and are not getting the result that you need, consider that your success lies in going ‘against the grain’ of your competitors.

Trust that there are other ways, different ways, than the ones that your competitors are using that will allow you to connect with your ideal customer on a higher, more meaningful level.

Embrace the challenge. If you’re in an industry where your competitors have more money and are dominating, that often is good news because it creates the opportunity to do things differently and stand out. Copying others is easy, but it usually leads to lackluster results. Embrace the challenge of a crowded market because within that challenge, may lie the key to
 your success.

View the TV spot below