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There are unique differences between the average and the exceptional. Today’s consumer has more choices and more options, as well as access to more information than ever before. The simple question today is: “What are YOU doing to STAND OUT?”

While going through the process of selling my first company to a venture-backed firm, we were introduced to a variety of venture capitalists from all across the country. Each VC firm had their own process of determining whether there was a good fit, but they all had one thing in common: They all wanted to know what unique advantage our company had over our competition. It was a great question that required us to really think through our value proposition.

The first VC group wanted to know what our unique selling advantage was. Then, a Midwest VC group asked the same question a little differently: “What is your sustainable competitive advantage?” They wanted to know what we had that would keep us in business when others around us are failing. The final group, from the East Coast, asked the question this way: “What is your unfair competitive advantage?” Each way of asking the question became a little more aggressive.

Ask yourself those same questions as they apply to your business. What do you have and do that is unique? What will keep you around when others are failing? And what advantage do you have over your competition that is just not fair? By answering each of these questions, you set yourself apart from the masses of average companies and agents. It is not okay to be average today; we must be exceptional and truly stand out.

Here are five things you can do to stand out from the crowd:

1. Establish yourself as an expert in your community. Embrace social networking and utilize social media tools and blogging to provide real, valuable information that stimulates conversations.

2. Learn to sell. Sellers want agents who understand the dynamics of the sales process and can move buyers to take action. As real estate professionals, we are trained to provide expert assistance on transactional matters, as well we should, but sales training is the missing link to creating exceptional agents and companies. Sales means prospecting and presenting better than your competition, finding workable solutions for your clients’ problems and winning the business.

3. Create an elevator pitch that describes your value proposition. Practice it with other agents in your office and be ready at a moment’s notice to state what makes you different.

4. Borrow brand equity. This is a simple concept that was taught to me by companies like Nike and Apple. Both companies have great products, but by working together, they create even stronger market share and brand awareness. Agents borrow the brand equity of their companies and companies borrow the brand equity of their agents who have the direct relationship capital with the consumer. If you are affiliated with a “Power Broker,” make sure you borrow the brand equity of your company to give greater credibility to your value proposition. Also, utilize the brand equity of organizations such as RISMedia’s Top 5 in Real Estate Network®. This membership group sets you apart from the average agent and, in conjunction with your company brand, will help you establish an unfair competitive advantage.

5. Market yourself differently. The same old forms of marketing don’t work. You have to stand out and be bold and clear with what makes you different. Then you have to get that message out through new media resources, such as Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube.

Verl Workman is a speaker, coach and business consultant.