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How to Stand out in a Crowded Marketplace

October 9, 2023
The Recognized Authority Podcast Cover

The podcast that helps experts & consultants on the journey to becoming a recognized authority in your field, so you can increase your impact, command premium fees, work less hours, and never have to suffer a bad-fit client again!.

Do you feel like just another face in the crowd? In today’s crowded marketplace blending in can spell disaster if you want to attract ideal clients and increase your impact.

You need to learn how to differentiate yourself and become the only choice. In this episode of The Recognized Authority, host Alastair McDermott interviews branding strategist Gerry Foster on how consultants, coaches and thought leaders can stand out from the competition through strategic branding.

They discuss the importance of finding your uniqueness in order to increase your impact. Gerry explains that you need to identify and promote how you are different and better than other options your potential clients may be considering.

He discusses the concept of the “blue ocean” – finding untapped market spaces where you can offer fresh and original solutions. This allows you to differentiate yourself rather than compete directly with established players.

Alastair and Gerry also explore the sequence of brand, market and sell. Branding is about shaping perceptions, while marketing helps you get found. This lays the groundwork for selling your services or products. They dispel the myth that branding is just logos and emphasize the need for a distinctive brand identity.

Gerry shares strategies for making intangible services tangible. This includes developing a unique “secret sauce” system to deliver concrete outcomes for clients. He advises positioning yourself as a brand that offers exclusive value, not just another generic service provider.

The episode provides actionable tips for experts and thought leaders to stand out in a crowded marketplace by embracing strategic branding.



“When you cannot amplify your uniqueness you’re not going to be able to magnify your impact.” – Gerry Foster

“You have to plant your flag and stake your claim in untapped market space, where you are saying to your market that you are offering something that is altogether fresh, unique and original which keeps them from commoditizing you.” – Gerry Foster

Show Notes

Key Insights

  • Amplify uniqueness to increase impact and avoid commoditization
  • Tap into unmet needs and offer unique solutions in the “Blue Ocean”
  • Follow the sequence: brand, market, sell
  • Branding is shaping perceptions, not just logos
  • Take the intangible and make it tangible like a physical product
  • Position yourself as the only choice, not just another choice
  • Uncover your talents and abilities to deliver value no one else can
  • Big brands show the brand itself is more important than the product


  • Identify unsolved problems, desired outcomes, or “impossible” goals
  • Create a “secret sauce” system or process to deliver unique value
  • Focus on becoming a distinctive brand, not just a service provider


Look for opportunities in:

  • Unsolved problems
  • Desired outcomes/results
  • Seemingly impossible goals
  • Desired emotional states

Shape perceptions through:

  • Brand design
  • Product branding
  • Brand archetypes

Guest Bio

Gerry Foster, also known as “The Branding Evangelist,” is a seasoned brand strategist with a rich history spanning over 30 years in the strategic branding field, during which he has aided over 100,000 small businesses across 600 diverse industries in crafting world-class brands. Before stepping into the entrepreneurial realm, he honed his branding skills at Procter & Gamble (P&G), where he garnered insights into big company branding strategies. Through his brand development and training company, and as the host of the Brand-Forward Leadership podcast, Foster continues to empower business owners by teaching them how to generate more sales and passive income by enhancing their brand’s presence and uniqueness.



brand, branding, people, jerry, offer, experts, called, expertise, commoditizing, potential clients, product, ideal client, unique, coaches, services, market, rest, independent consultant, secret sauce, crowd


Gerry Foster, Voiceover, Alastair McDermott

Gerry Foster 00:00

Unless you’re different, they see you simply as another penguin in a group, another bird in the flock, another slice in the load. And that is not something that you want when you cannot amplify your uniqueness, you’re not going to be able to magnify your impact what are people looking for from someone like yourself that they presently cannot find. And that’s typically where you will find your best opportunity to differentiate yourself versus the rest of the crowd.

Alastair McDermott 00:32

Today, my guest is Jerry Foster. Jerry, welcome to the show.

Gerry Foster 00:36

Ah, it’s so great to be in your Allaster.

Alastair McDermott 00:39

Jerry, you and I have been working together for a while because you’ve been helping me with my branding. And so I’m really excited to have you on the show. Can you tell the listener who may not know you a little bit about who you are?

Gerry Foster 00:53

Well, I am a brand strategist. and my specialty is showing coaches, experts and other thought leaders how to create a big brand and a message that sells so they can stand out, get noticed and attract your ideal clients and 60 days or less.

Alastair McDermott 01:12

This is awesome. I love it. Okay, let’s get into the crux of it. So who is your ideal client? And what is the biggest challenge that they’re facing?

Gerry Foster 01:22

My ideal client are people who offer any kind of expertise, especially the coaches and the consultants and all of those so called experts that, that you specialize in working with. And the biggest challenge that they face is that they’re not able to stand out, get noticed and be remembered for offering something unique. So they can then be rewarded for their individuality.

Alastair McDermott 01:46

Why are they not getting noticed?

Gerry Foster 01:50

Because they’re blending in and not standing out. And they’re not amplifying their uniqueness? Because when you cannot amplify your uniqueness, you’re not going to be able to magnify your impact.

Alastair McDermott 02:03

So okay, can you dig into that for me a little bit, because I know that this is something that I find really difficult. And a lot of people I talk to find this difficult. They feel well, I’m not really all that different. I’m, you know, I’m a software engineer, or I’m a management consultant, or I’m an accountant, like, how, how can you figure out what that is that makes you more unique,

Gerry Foster 02:24

by being able to tap into what’s called your brand DNA, and the subtle special qualities that you possess, that separate you from all the rest, because unless you have a twin, nobody can think like you follow up like you saw problems like you and all the other amazing things that you can do as an authority in your industry.

Alastair McDermott 02:47

Right. So would it be fair to say then, that the big misconception here that everybody has is that they think that they’re not unique?

Gerry Foster 02:58

Absolutely, because oftentimes, they are defining their expertise based on their resume. And you can have all the qualifications in the world, you can have the trainings, the degrees, the education, the certifications. However, when you’re looking for potential clients, what they really want to know is how are you different? And why are you better? Versus other options? They are probably considering.

Alastair McDermott 03:25

Okay, let me dig into this then with you for a moment. Does it really matter that we’re different? What like, what, why do we have to actually be different?

Gerry Foster 03:35

Because unless you’re different, then people are going to commoditize you, which basically means they’re going to slot you put you in a box and label you is just another whoever or whatever. In other words, by commoditizing, you they see you simply as another penguin in a group, another bird in the flock another slice in the low, and that is not something that you want.

Alastair McDermott 03:59

Right? And so Okay, then, tell me a little bit more about how somebody who’s in that scenario, can actually identify what is unique about them, that people actually care about it. Because there’s lots of things that are unique about you that your potential clients probably don’t care about, like where you’re from, or things like that. You know what height you are, but what about the things that that they care about? Can you tell me a bit about identifying what those are?

Gerry Foster 04:26

Yeah, that’s a great question. They have to find what’s called the Blue Ocean market space, which means you want to plant your flag and stake your claim in what’s called untapped market space. Where you are saying to your market that you are offering something that is looked upon as being fresh, unique and original, which keeps them from commoditizing you and you blend it in with the rest of the crowd.

Alastair McDermott 04:55

Okay, and so, tell me then a bit about that a bit about That blue ocean market spaces. That’s what he called it.

Gerry Foster 05:03

Yeah, it’s called Blue Ocean market space. And it’s based on a best selling book that was written years ago for branding gurus like myself. It’s like the Bible, right? But the basic idea is for any authority, anyone who’s tuning in right now, and you offer any kind of expertise, any kind of skill or talent or ability to ask yourself, what are people looking like from loot? What are people looking for from someone like yourself that they presently cannot find? And that’s typically where you will find your best opportunity to differentiate yourself versus the rest of the crowd.

Alastair McDermott 05:36

Right? And so I’m wondering if we can dig into that a bit more like, can you? Can you get into some specific examples of what that might look like for somebody?

Gerry Foster 05:46

Oh, absolutely. If you ask yourself the question, what is it that people want that they presently cannot find? It usually has to do with one of four areas. Number one, they have a problem, that’s going unsolved. Number two, they’re looking for certain out certain outcomes, they’re looking for better results they want to get from where they are to where they want to be. Or number three, they are looking for what is in their mind is something that seems impossible, that can show up in their life or in their business, and they want the impossible to become possible. Or number four, they want to feel a certain way, which usually has to do with, they no longer want to experience a negative emotion, no one wants to feel frustrated, stressed out worried or whatever. And so I always advise my clients and students to look for opportunities in any of those four areas.

Alastair McDermott 06:38

I love it. Brilliant, really practical, okay. And so we’re looking at our potential clients from the perspective of okay, we know that there’s a problem that they have, that they want to solve, or an outcome or result that they’re looking for. Maybe there’s something and we can get into this, because this is really interesting when they want the impossible. And so there’s something there, or they want to feel or preferably not to feel a certain way I can resonate with that one. Let’s talk about people who want the impossible can can you just kind of flesh that out for me, but I don’t think I really have that one.

Gerry Foster 07:18

A lot of times that someone who feels they are in a dire situation, they’re in a tough spot themselves, individually, perhaps their family or their company. And they tried everything in their mind to turn things around. And so they’re looking to you to have not necessarily necessarily that magic pill, or that silver bullet, but they’re looking for you to bring forth a new way of being able to get them what it is exactly that they see that they really want and have not been been able to obtain. Now, the key bill is for them to realize that they can have new possibilities, because it no longer has to be based on their past, and so on you as a expert as an authority, you have to bring forth a whole new future for someone that is no longer limited by their past.

Alastair McDermott 08:15

Okay, and how is that different from somebody who is looking for an outcome or a solution to it? Well, and

Gerry Foster 08:22

in my world, we call this miracle branding. And the extreme example of that, my friend is when people are trying to sell the fantasy of what seems impossible. That’s someone saying, hey, we’ll show you how to lose 20 pounds and 20 days without going hungry. Or, hey, we can get rid of your belly fat in 10 days, or, Hey, we’ll get rid of your migraine headache in five minutes, or men trotting out machine because if you sit on your couch, you can have a Six Pack app and just 30 days, right? So the fantasy is when someone goes, Wow, I can’t do me have that. So anyone who offers expertise probably has a potential client who’s looking at their circumstances or looking at their condition or looking at whatever is going on with them. And to them, they just don’t know what to do. And if you can brand yourself around your ability to make something happen that they do not think can happen. Oh my goodness, that’s one incredible thing to start to show up in your own business.

Alastair McDermott 09:28

Right, really interesting. And what like what mistake do people make then when they’re trying to like first of all, to to pick that problem? Or trying to pick that area? What mistakes do do experts make?

Gerry Foster 09:44

Typically, they believe that marketing is the holy grail. And they think that for example, all they really need is a website or an offer or a landing page or some kind of message and it’s not that simple. They don’t understand that the most successful companies on the planet, from the big boys all the way to the sole proprietors, they understand that there was this, there’s a sequence for scaling. And that sequence is brand market sell, you nail down your brand first, and then you market and sell the heck out of your brand. Because the goal of branding is for you to get known. So that marketing can get you found, and selling can get you paid. And so they’re out of sequence, risk, skipping the branding part, thinking that they’ve got a brand because they have a logo or something, and they go into marketing, but the marketing is not going to work the way it should, because the branding is not in place and the branding the marketing have to mesh together so that they can then get the kind of revenue results that they’re seeking.

Alastair McDermott 10:44

Okay, so how does this apply them? Because I can see how this applies to you know, big box brands, you know, Procter and Gamble and all of these guys, how does this apply to somebody who is a an independent consultant or a business coach or something like that?

Gerry Foster 11:00

It really applies because they have to remember, you’re not offering a product, you’re not offering a tangible physical object, where the consumer can check you out in advance. Because think about it Allister with a product you can, you can sample the goods quite often in advance, you can see taste, touch, smell or hear it, you can, you can have the kids go into the pet shop play with the puppy Trader Joe’s here in America, before the pandemic, you could go on to Trader Joe’s and tried to food samples, we could do whatever we have to do with a physical product before we have to pay for anything. And so if you’re offering any kind of expertise in the eyes of your buyer, you’re selling what vapor, you’re selling the invisible. And so the key from a strategic branding standpoint, which is my specialty, is that I show you how to take the invisible and make it visible in their mind is if it were a physical product, and that in itself is going to help you land more clients.

Alastair McDermott 12:02

Talk a little bit more about that, like how can you take something that is intangible like that and make that a real thing for somebody,

Gerry Foster 12:10

what I do is I show them how to have what’s called your secret sauce. That special way that you can deliver value in a way that no one else can that you can deliver outcomes in a way that nobody even comes close to. And the key then is to not offer services. Because if you say you offer services that in itself, makes you sound generic. Instead, you want to say you have a system or process or a method or an approach, or formula or path that you put people on, whereby you’re going to say to them, we’re going to do this, and then we’re going to put up with that and boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, we’re now in the eyes of your buyer, your prospect, they understand that, okay, if I work with you, in followed whatever that system is, quote, unquote, I’m going to get the results that I’m looking for. And so now, it feels like a tangible physical product to them. So the point is that the nuances of branding services is very different than a tangible item. And I think what happens is that a lot of experts, they don’t realize that and so they go out, they go down the wrong path with their branding, because it kind of branded it for probably engaging in is better, better suited for product as opposed to their expertise.

Alastair McDermott 13:30

That’s, that’s super interesting. I love the way you’re kind of, you’re fleshing out the process that people have. And because it is the service, like we’re talking about the same thing, but but you’re just talking about it in in a different way. And you’re, you know, you’re putting that structure around it so that people can see this is an actual, this is an actual thing. And that that makes a lot of sense. So I really like that. Let me ask you what is something that people misunderstand about this whole process

Gerry Foster 13:59

that a brand does a logo or brand is something that you can see. And I always tell people Alastair, that if you really believe that the aesthetics that you provide your colors, the use of photography, the layout and design of your website, if you really think that people are going to do business with you, just because of how you look, you are totally missing the mark. The example that I like to use and product branding is list a Coke and Pepsi. I doubt it. The Coca Cola drinkers prefer coke had this in a red can in the Pepsi people because it’s in the bukan it’s what’s inside the candidate counts. And so the question for you a kind of coach consultant expert is what’s inside your can so that you can truly provide the essence of what you have so that people see you as being second to none.

Alastair McDermott 14:58

What what is some Something that you believe that most people in marketing and branding don’t believe

Gerry Foster 15:06

that you need a big budget to do branding, or that brand need is off luff. Or that branding is something that the big companies do. Oh, no, no, no, listen, in the world that we live in today, because of what’s happened, especially since the pandemic, the online marketplace is super crowded, especially for those of you who offer any kind of service. And I’m including professionals here as well. What’s going on now is that unless you do what shaped perceptions of how people perceive you, they’re going to, they’re going to slot you on with the rest of the crowd. And so branding is now considered the number one business building tool for any kind of entrepreneur, because you have to shape perceptions. You have to get people to see you as being the only one who does what you do in a special way that you do it like your secret sauce, so that you don’t come across as being me too. Or me also.

Alastair McDermott 16:10

Is there anything that makes you angry about the way that people in branding and marketing talk?

Gerry Foster 16:18

Yeah, I want the one of the things that bugs me is the word brandy gets thrown around. And they want to lump us all together. And the thing is, is that there’s a lot of layers to branding. And I’ve made branding my life’s work. As you know, it’s the only thing I’ve done for over 30 plus years, I live in Greek brand. And I love all things branding. And so there are what I call easter eggs. So you may have a branding person out there in their Easter egg is brand design. So they’re doing the logos and the color schemes and all the aesthetics and then someone else, their Easter egg may be brand storytelling, someone else may do branded websites, someone else may do social media branding, someone else may do promotional product, brandy with their logos and whatnot on caps and T shirts, somebody else may do what’s called Brand archetypes. I mean, there’s all these different layers. I do what people call the heart stuff, which is nailing down what exactly makes you different and better. So that you are looked upon as being the only choice as opposed to simply another choice. And that’s done strategically, my friend, not by relying on those other easter eggs, I say,

Alastair McDermott 17:31

tell me a little bit about what you mean when you say it’s done strategically, what does that mean to you?

Gerry Foster 17:38

Well, in today’s market, you really have to establish yourself as being preeminent in your space. And I believe that all of us are born with innate gifts. And so what I do is I show experts and coaches and professionals how to do what uncover your talents. So that you’re looked upon as being not run of the mill, but rather hidden shoulders above the rest of the crowd. So when you think about it, we’ve got to nail down what makes you distinct what makes you unique? How do you deliver value in a way that nobody else can? What problems do you saw? What outcomes do you deliver? What’s going to be your brand promise? What’s going to be your message? What’s going to be your secret sauce? What is it about you that says to the rest of the of the marketplace that you run a class by yourself and that’s done strategically right? As opposed to the other way? Son with this centimeter of the day? All Jerry, I see what you do you do the meat and potato stuff. You let you let other people do the superficial stuff.

Alastair McDermott 18:48

Shallow and limit. Is there a surprising thing or story that people don’t know about you?

Gerry Foster 18:55

I have Yes. That I have been doing this for 30 plus year, I started my brand development and training company full time in 1985. Yes, I was 10 years old. Yes, dinosaurs are roaming the earth and Jesus was wearing sandals. Okay. But the point of it, though, is that Western Yordy comes with and I’ve had the opportunity for 30 plus years, I’ve actually helped over 100,000 small businesses from over 600 different industries, primarily service based industries. I’ve helped them with their branding. And so in the branding universe that I orbit in, I’m regarded if you Google me I’m regarded as a bona fide branding guy, the real deal. And I’m very proud of that.

Alastair McDermott 19:47

100% 100% Is there any one action that you would recommend that somebody let’s say like an independent consultant or some sort of service based expert, is there any one action that you would wreck Imagine them to go and take as a result of listening to this in terms of improving their own branding.

Gerry Foster 20:07

Absolutely, it would be to find your edge, because it’s getting harder and harder as the market gets more and more crowded. And so you have to ask yourself, what are people looking for, from someone like yourself that they presently cannot find? So that you can say to them, I know you’ve been looking for a, b, and c from someone like me, but you’ve been settling for D en F. And guess what? I’ve got the A, B, and C you’ve been looking for, and you want to know why I can deliver it, and nobody else can? Because nobody has my secret sauce? Because there’s only one

Alastair McDermott 20:50

great answer. Is there anything that I should have asked you that I didn’t ask you today?

Gerry Foster 20:59

I would say, just realize that building successful companies are a lot of moving parts that go into that we all know that. However, you have to make the decision. Do you want to show up as a service provider? Or do you want to show up as a brand, because if you just want to show up as a service provider, then you’re just going to fade into the background with the rest of the crowd. And you’re going to be forced to compete on price. And brands like Starbucks. And brands like Nike have shown us, for example, that the products they offer are less important than the brands they purchase. Because we live in a brand conscious world. People prefer to do business with brands, especially at the small business level of a solopreneur operating expertise. Because when we think about brands, we know what we’re going to give them that bring it. There’s no surprise if we walk into McDonald’s, we know what it’s going to taste like. We know what the experience is going to be like when we want me to wear Starbucks, right? There is something that we associate with the brand name itself. And so one of the biggest mistakes that Sony entrepreneurs make is that they have not established what do they want people to associate with their name, as opposed to telling people what they do. We can talk more about that.

Alastair McDermott 22:31

But not today, because we’re going to run out of time. Okay. Jerry, thank you so much for coming on the show. If people want to find more about you and your services, where should they go?

Gerry Foster 22:42

Jerry Foster This Jerry buffet, G G E ry foster brand And it’s Jerry buchi. Because my birth name is Gerald. Okay, so is Derek Jeff Bullas to Jerome What’s up Jerry with Jay. And so you can you can go to my website. You can also find me on all the socials Facebook, LinkedIn, tik, Tok, Instagram and YouTube. And, and this Google me and I have a pretty big footprint. Awesome.

Alastair McDermott 23:11

Well, it’s been great to talk to you about, you know, a topic that a lot of people kind of don’t really understand. And so thank you for helping to simplify that for us. And if I

Gerry Foster 23:21

might say one last thing, today’s environment, you either have a brand or you risk being bland.

Alastair McDermott 23:30

What a great what a great way to close it. Thank you so much, Jerry.

Gerry Foster 23:33

You’re welcome. Thank you.

Voiceover 23:37

Thanks for listening to The Recognized Authority with Alistair Mackenzie. Subscribe today and don’t miss an episode. Find out more at the recognized