Knowing why clients select you is powerful information
Better marketing doesn't cost a lot
As part of an ownership transition, an environmental services consulting firm set a goal of doubling profit over the next several years. They sought help in building out their marketing and business development to accomplish this goal.
The conventional path to expansion in their industry was adding compliance and remediation to the firm’s litigation support and engineering practices. Firm leadership rejected this strategy, feeling strongly that mixing cost-sensitive and highly-technical services would dilute both profitability and the firm’s culture. Growth would have to come from their existing markets.
In a business where final deliverables require a deep technical analysis based on solid science, the firm’s current positioning rested on the quality of written communications and attentiveness to detail. Since other firms could and did make similar claims, they were highly regarded by existing clients, but struggled to provide a credible and compelling reason for new clients to select their firm above others.
Interviews with the firm's best clients revealed an unexpected differentiator. Clients remarked that the firm was unique in how it delivered its recommendations. It delivered a single report integrating the needs of several distinct audiences within the client company’s hierarchy, often an insurance company facing a multi-million dollar claim.
Competing firms sought to please the highly technical claims managers who hired them. The jargon-filled, academic style that appealed to the claims managers, however, was inaccessible to less-technical senior executives. As decisions to pay or litigate multi-million dollar claims progressed up the insurance company hierarchy, the need for rock-solid science gave way to addressing broader business issues 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 end-client time, money, and resources.
The insurance company clients weren’t the only ones who garnered unanticipated benefits. The firm’s leadership tallied three major impacts where they expected only one.
#1. Highly focused marketing and business development geared to the firm’s limited resources.
The firm adopted a marketing strategy repositioning itself in terms of how it worked rather than merely what it produced. This made it easy to identify and align around the highest value marketing and business development activities. The difference between strategic and opportunistic clients became obvious. Visibility soared within client companies as the firm highlighted that its work was directly presented to higher-level executives.
This first impact was expected. Two other impacts became pleasant surprises.
#2. Manage so every client gets the secret sauce.
Knowing exactly why their clients selected their firm changed the way leadership managed the mid-level staff that did much of the day-to-day technical analysis and report writing. Analysis and recommendations that integrated with the client’s business processes became an explicit requirement.
#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 regarding how the firm delivered value made it easier to attract potential employees who matched the firm’s approach and values.
Deep customer insights—why your customers select your firm—form the foundation of positioning that is accurate, credible, and compelling. The Strategic Marketing 3.0® process uncovers and applies deep customer insights so marketing supports the business in multiple ways while consuming fewer resources in a proven and scalable manner.
Not every firm will be great, but any firm can be. It’s your choice.
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