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What Differentiates Your Consulting Practice From the Competition?

By Michael Zipursky

Today I want to encourage you not only to read my article but to ‘work’ through it. That’s right; I want you to actively participate. Not for my benefit, but for yours.

If you can come up with a statement that matches both criteria there’s a good indication you’re getting close to finding what really makes your practice stand out from the competition.

I’m going to ask you a question and I want you to take a minute or two right now and answer it. Trust me, it will be worth your time and greatly benefit your consulting practice.

The Question

Okay, here it is:

Question: “What makes your consulting practice special and separates you from other consultants in your marketplace?”

Now before you continue reading think about that question and list out 3-5 of your key differentiators and advantages.

If you can’t, an alarm should be going off for you that this is something you really need to work on.

Okay, have you written down your answers now?


Once you’ve done that I want you to look at the below list:

  • Good customer service
  • Quality
  • Good results
  • Knowledge
  • Responsiveness
  • Speed
  • Innovation
  • Trust
  • Skill
  • Education

That list includes 10 of the most common things business owners say makes them different.

None of these is a real differentiator. The fact that so many business owners list the same response clearly indicates these cannot be unique, special or an advantage.

Now, how many of these did you have on your list?

For your consulting practice to have a real and meaningful advantage from your competition your differentiators need to be unique.

Ever heard of USP (Unique Selling Proposition)? The first word is “unique”. If everyone is saying the same thing it’s not unique.

Your Unique Differentiator

One way to ensure your differentiation is real is to think about:

a) What your clients really value.
b) What your competitors either don’t or couldn’t say.

If you can come up with a statement that matches both criteria there’s a good indication you’re getting close to finding what really makes your practice stand out from the competition.

11 thoughts on “What Differentiates Your Consulting Practice From the Competition?

  1. Suleiman says:

    I just started as a consultant. My question is how do i plan my next year budget as a consultant? How do i plan for new business.

    • Grab our free Consultants Toolkit, that will help you with some basic planning.

  2. Good question.

    One of the weakest “differentiation” consultants (or any business) use is the term “quality”… The term itself doesn’t equate to excellence but rather just a term to describe a trait of the item being described. Low quality is still quality.

    Not sure when the word became synonymous with excellence.

    David Tong
    Salevoke Marketing

  3. John Kaimarama says:

    Hi Michael

    Great question and one I needed to answer. I consult to companies in the mineral resource and petroleum industries in the Asia Pacific region and most companies need to engage with Indigenous cultures to access resources. From your question I worked out that our competitive advantages are; we are indigenous consultants as opposed to most agencies being mainstream, we specialise in engaging with indigenous cultures, we have international experience throughout the region. Being indigenous gives us access to avenues most other mainstream consultants do not have the privilege of. Unfortunately potential clients wouldn’t know this as I have not marketed this on our website etc. Obviously I’ll have to rectify this.

    By the way I purchased your Consulting Success System 2.0 and it’s great. Thanks.

    John Kaimarama
    Pacifika Consultants

    • John – love how you put this into action right away! Great work and looks like you’re on the right track 🙂 Thanks for the kind words about our course and happy to hear you’ve found it helpful.

  4. Jake Parent says:

    This advice is huge and I hope more people get the message.

    It also speaks to a larger problem many consultant entrepreneurs face when building a customer community… Realizing it’s not about you!!!

    To best serve your customers you have to create value for them. And nowadays that means involving them in the process.

    After all, nobody knows your customers like your customers.

    Really great post!


  5. Sarah Browski says:

    Good article. This is really helpful for beginners like us. In order to achieve the result the consulting strategy and operations should be taken accordingly.

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