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It’s not what you do – it is the experience you provide.

When was the last time you attended an industry meeting that did NOT highlight the plight of commoditization?

Dictionary.com defines the word:  “almost total lack of meaningful differentiation in the goods (or services) provided“.

So how do you avoid commoditization and differentiate your firm? What can you do to stand out from your peers?

Beyond all the marketing tricks and branding exercises, real differentiation happens at the experiential level. It’s not what you do for your clients, but rather how you do it.

We know quality service when we see or feel it. When you share stories about times you received excellent service, do you talk about what they did? Or how it felt? Remembering that excellent hotel stay – you describe it as “inviting” the staff as “friendly” and the bed as “comfortable.” None of these words are objective features – they are subjective experiences you perceived.

Your clients are people just like you. When they talk about your firm, they are not saying “Wow, ACME Engineering really got the sewer pipes to line up perfectly”. They are saying “Wow, ACME Engineering took really good care of us. They understood why we needed to complete this phase of the project on a fast track and they made it happen. They helped us manage the scope, anticipate challenges, and solve construction problems. They were easy to get hold of and followed up on any questions we had really quickly”.

There is the ‘meaningful difference’. When you understand the story behind the project, you are more than ‘the firm that put the pipes in the ground’. You are the firm that cared enough to really grasp what was important to your client. You are the firm who took care of them.

Without understanding the story your clients tell, the project risks becoming internally focused on your goals rather than the client’s goals. With the story, you are a part of the vision, and your client’s goals become your goals. With the story, you are aligned. You are partners.

Download “The Power of Storytelling for Your Firm”, a 90-minute Webinar from Client Feedback Tool co-founder Ryan Suydam. Ryan outlines the importance of storytelling, methods for gathering stories, tips for using stories internally to improve staff and culture, and best practices for using stories externally in marketing, business development, and project delivery.