Gaining an edge in a competitive market

How should you, a professional service firm business owner, find your voice and win out in what is a highly competitive and difficult marketplace?

In a market that is awash with ‘me too’ copy cat professionals; each offering pretty much the same level and quality of service for similar fees with works completed to similar high quality standards, what’s to be done? How can you find your voice and win out?

A good example of this is in the logistics industry. Almost all of the companies that are around offer a next day delivery service, that’s a standard requirement. But there are now more and more companies differentiating by offering same day delivery — a huge bonus in the B2B sector as it means their clients can get paid quicker on goods that are delivered. We’ve seen one courier company in particular that drills down even further and offers very distinctive solutions such as furniture courier services — meaning they stand out as an ideal solution for local businesses.

As a professional you’re most probably really good at what you do but when it comes to marketing its most likely that things start to get a little squashy; you start to feel less comfortable and most certainly if there is client work to be done its going to take second place!

What to do! How to do it! What to prioritise!

And frustrating as it all is, as we all try our best, everyone looks pretty much the same!

But isn’t it true. We simply aren’t consistent we move from one idea to another without a second thought… it seems like a good idea. This is the level of thinking that dominates.

And worse we have clients, but then when the work is done, we let them slip away; there’s no system, no rigour, no structure, no follow through, no real plan, no time and in truth almost no meaningful desire to really get to grips with business development works.

“For goodness sake we’re good at what we do, really good, why are they beating a path to our doors”!!!!

Is it any wonder Joe public treats professionals as commodities, given all the changes that have happened in society over recent years? That we face an ever fickle market place. Many today find that its impossible to stand out;, you simply remain invisible; but to conform no longer works.

But I’m here to say that there is another way; you can stand out.

You have to find your voice and when you do you’ll find it an awful lot easier to bring in quality clients because you’ll be on top of finding prospects, nurturing them and bringing them to the point that when they have need of your services you’re the chosen person or the chosen firm

Be Clear

But before you start doing anything you need to be clear about the basics:
1. You have to know who you’re wanting to talk to;
2. You have to know what are their concerns and how you’re going to be able to show you care in the context of those concerns;
3. You need to be clear about your competitive positioning in terms of how you want to be seen as distinctive;
4. You have to be clear about what you need to say to each of your target clients in each of chosen target market service sectors,
5. You have to decide what you’re actually going to say;
6. You have to decide which are the most effective ways to say what you want to say using communications tools that people want to use themselves to find the information they’re seeking; and
7. You have to set up a system so that everything works smoothly, you’re able to track progress; you’re able to see what is working and what isn’t and by using the system be able to stay in control, each and every step of the way as your communications plan evolves.

To conform is not the way to go; to conform will only sabotage prospects for serious success.
You have to find ways to be seen as different, distinctive and special in the context of the questions I’ve just posed.
1. Do you know which are your most profitable services? And are you focusing on marketing these?
2. Do you know who are the hungriest types of clients for the services you’d most like to be selling? Are you actually clear about which are the most profitable client sectors?
3. Have you really defined and are you really focused on the most valuable target clients, service by service?
4. Are you still a generalist focused on a broad range of services targeting a broad range of market sectors; do you still worry that if you start to be specific you’ll be losing out in some way?
5. And just to answer this one; if you’re not focusing tightly then you’re already losing out big time to those that are focused.

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