For a me-too business, stories can be the great differentiator.

Undifferentiated suits

I have this dream.

My new client has a product or service with an amazing point of difference.

There is something unique about it. It has something none of its competitors possess. It’s amazing. It’s incredible.

Oh joy!

And then I wake up.

It’s incredibly rare that we have the opportunity to work on promoting a product or service that is significantly different from its competitors.

Mostly we have to work with very minor points of difference. Sometimes there is no point of difference at all.

This doesn’t mean our clients have poor products or lack imagination.

It’s just the way things are.

Look at the offerings of a dozen small bookkeeping firms, and they’ll all be pretty much the same.

The same goes for dentists, plumbers, florists, roofers and the makers of fastenings for commercial trucks and trailers.

So what can you do?

One answer was brought to me by fellow freelancer Liz Farr of Farr Communications.

Her clients are accountants.

She knows that all her clients offer pretty much the same services. So she sends each new client a short questionnaire before she starts work.

I won’t give away the full recipe to her secret to doing great work.

But, with her permission, here is her question number three…

“Do you have samples of how you have gone above and beyond the expected to serve a client?”

What’s she doing here?

She’s saying, “Tell me a story!”

While the list of services offered is pretty much the same across accountancy firms, the stories they can tell are very different.

Part of Liz’s secret to being able to do great work for her clients is that, unlike most of her competitors, she has found a way to make every client unique. She makes them different. She makes them shine, pop out and look good.

And she does it all with stories.

Best of all, she gets the client to do the heavy lifting for her. She doesn’t have to become a hybrid copywriter / investigative reporter and go digging for stories.

She just asks.

And once a client gives her a few stories to work with, she can find the one that works best and weave it into her work for them.

Stories not only differentiate companies that would otherwise sound the same, but they also humanize companies that can be perceived to be a tad impersonal… like an office full of accountants.

Tell a story and you create an instant point of differentiation. At the same time, you also put a very human face to the entire company.

A double win.

Try this with your own clients. Particularly if you have me-too clients with few or no points of difference to talk about.

Ask them for stories.

And if it works, be sure to send Liz a note of thanks!

NOTE: If you’d like to use the power of storytelling to increase your skills as a web content writer, online copywriter or social media writer, take my course… Selling With Stories…

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