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Secret Sauce

Unlocking the Secret Sauce

Firm leadership rejected the conventional path to growth. They felt sure that profitability and culture would both suffer from adding cost-sensitive compliance and remediation to the firm’s highly-technical litigation support and engineering practices. Growth would have to come from their existing markets.

Quality of written reports and attentiveness to detail were hallmarks of the firm’s expertise. Since other firms could and did make similar claims, they struggled to provide a credible and compelling reason for new clients to hire them.

Addressing a Bigger Picture

Interviews with the firm’s best clients revealed their “secret sauce” wasn’t what they thought. Lawyers and insurance companies who worked with them noted the firm’s recommendations took a different approach compared to similar firms. Rather than writing to a single audience at a time, they delivered a single report integrating the needs of the internal hierarchy of an insurance company facing a multi-million-dollar claim.

Competing firms focused nearly all their attention on the Ph.D. claims managers who hired them. Reports filled with jargon and written in an academic style appealed to the claims managers, but baffled the rest of the decision hierarchy. As decisions to pay or litigate multi-million-dollar claims progressed up the approval hierarchy, the need for rock-solid science gave way to addressing the broader business issues of less-technical senior executives such as risk and asset protection.

Understanding and responding to the end-clients’ broader business needs with an integrated report provided an unanticipated hat-trick: saving the client organization time, money, and resources. They had done this for years without recognizing the broad impact on the lawyers and insurance companies they supported.

Better Marketing Triggered Improvements Across the Firm

Clients weren’t the only ones who garnered unanticipated benefits. The firm’s leadership tallied three major improvement where they had expected only one.

First, the one they expected.

#1. Highly focused marketing and business development geared to the firm’s limited resources

The firm re-positioned to emphasize its role in conserving the insurance company’s assets by providing high-level advice regarding pending and potential claims-related litigation. This was a conversation most of their competitors—the ones who focused on turning out dense reports—simply couldn’t have. Visibility soared within client companies as the firm highlighted that its work directly benefited higher-level executives.

#2. Manage so every client gets the secret sauce

Clarity regarding their secret sauce caused leadership to change the way they managed mid-level staff doing much of the day-to-day technical analysis and report writing. Analysis and recommendations that explicitly integrated with the client’s business processes became a stated requirement. Equally important, the difference between strategic and opportunistic clients became obvious.

#3. Shift from recruiting to hiring

Attracting the industry’s best and brightest to work for a small, less known firm had always been a challenge. Just as the firm’s new positioning identified strategic clients, clarity and focus for how the firm delivered value made it easier to attract potential employees matching the firm’s approach and values.

Go from Good to Great

Deep customer insights—-why your customers select your firm–form the foundation of positioning that is simple, credible, and compelling. In-depth customer interviews allow company leaders to see past their own biases and focus on why their best customers select their company.

Not every firm will be great, but any firm can be. It’s your choice.