Marketing: How Do You Differentiate Yourself?

Differentiated Potatoes

Yesterday I ate lunch with Rod Burkert. He has launched a joint effort with Mel Abraham to help business appraisers better market themselves and their firms through Practice Builder Academy. After lunch he posted his first post on LinkedIn. Using social media in this way is one example of "giving it away" to help others and expose yourself to others using social media. Perhaps you might want to consider doing this with your firm or having a periodic newsletter using a source like Constant Contact.

At the Practice Builder Academy there is a free video to give you a taste of their product. With two experienced entrepreneurs I am sure they will be able to offer many business valuers sage advice to build their practices.

I thought I would share some ideas that I shared with Rod that may be able to help you.

Develop a cadre of mentors. A mentor is someone you reach out to regularly (monthly to bi-monthly for example) that allows you to bounce off ideas and share concerns. For example I have five mentors. One is the chairman of the board of a health organization and another is a janitor. I present these two examples of wanting a variety of perspectives and that we can continually learn from others in all walks of life.

A great piece of advice I received from one of my mentors when I opened my own firm four years ago was to get in front of people. This was hard. I was asked to get in front of five people per week. How would I find them? This took some work. It was recommended by my mentor that I outreach to law firms with tax, trust and/or estate planning functions with at least 10 lawyers and less than 100 lawyers. I researched this, made calls and wrote emails to key parties and asked if I could buy them lunch or coffee. With about 80 outreaches I met with about 20 people over 2 months. From this I picked up two clients at the time and six within six months. The potential client had to like me, trust me and see how I added value for them. This was an excellent example of how to get started as a new entrepreneur. Four years later the lessons learned are still being applied

Today one of the things I pursue is work in the field of neuroscience. I partner with academics in the field and look for ways to apply what they are doing today in my work related to mediation and negotiation. My clients want to share my successes with their clients which bring on speaking engagements for me and more clients. It has become self fulling.

However, every quarter I pause, reflect and conduct strategic planning to see where do I want to be two years from now:

  • What do I need to continue to do?
  • What do I need to stop?
  • What do I need to change?

This helps me focus and helps me avoid going off on tangents that may not be in my best interest. I have found I need to be oriented towards demand pull by clients and not supply push on what I think they need. That is listen to clients. What do they need? How can you help? Often being a networking source of supplying free advice goes a long way towards building a relationship. Relationships matter.

As a brief soundbite from neuroscience we are 98% emotional (relationship based) and 2% rational. "To paraphrase neuroscientist Antonio Damasio, we are 98 percent emotional and 2 percent rational. We are not nearly as rational as we think we are." Keep that in mind as you work to build relationships with others related to marketing, negotiations and discussions with others.

These are a few of the things we talked about. As a result of that encounter Rod asked me to be a guest of The Practice Builder on November 12, 2015. I have a passion to learn and to share what I have learned with others. I hope you can make the session if you are a business valuer and looking to grow your business.

About the author

Mike Gregory is a professional speaker, an author, and a mediator. You may contact Mike directly at and at (651) 633-5311. Mike has written 12 books (and co-authored two others) including his latest book, The Collaboration Effect: Overcoming Your Conflicts, and The Servant Manager, Business Valuations and the IRS, and Peaceful Resolutions that you may find helpful. [Michael Gregory, ASA, CVA, MBA, Qualified Mediator with the Minnesota Supreme Court]