Whenever you focus on your product or service rather than the impact on your customer’s operation, your thinking limits your results. Challenging yourself to think about what your customers really appreciate about your firm pays dividends.
It’s worth asking these questions because a few exceptional firms earn higher profits, win nearly all the deals they pursue, work with the most attractive clients, and attract the best people. And they have more fun doing it. The combination makes for a great firm.
Problem: there’s no clear path to becoming great
Being a great firm requires simultaneous excellence in many areas. Management theory offers the same guidance as mathematics: break complex problems into simpler components.
Where to start? It’s hard to earn higher profits if you aren’t winning the best deals. It’s hard to hire the best staff before you’re able to work with the most attractive clients. It’s hard to have fun when you’re waiting for serendipity to strike.
A construction services firm faced this problem. They boosted sales and marketing efforts, but failed to see a corresponding increase in project wins. Most distressingly, their ratio of wins decreased despite consistently placing as a finalist. They realized they had to stop doubling-down on what produced returns in the past.
It turns out their marketing was working against them. Focusing on competence made them the “safe option” on the shortlist, but there’s no money in that.
Taking the time to learn how and where their best customers see value allowed them to focus on the projects where they excelled and to clearly communicate why they are better than other options for these customers. The results were dramatic.
What’s so special about the best firms
It’s well documented that passionate people are more productive and inspire those around them. They solve problems better, need fewer resources, attract like-minded people, and are more loyal. You probably have a few passionate people in your firm. Hopefully, you’re one of them.
A passionate organization is more powerful than passionate individuals. You don’t add passionate people; you multiply them, creating something much greater than the sum of the parts.
Convention wisdom holds that where you find passionate organizations you find charismatic leaders like Steve Jobs and Richard Branson. It’s true, charismatic leaders can sometimes inspire entire organizations. But if you’re not as charismatic as Jobs or Branson, what can you do?
How Strategic Marketing 3.0 fosters passion
No customer buys from their second or third choice, so every firm that has customers, has someone who thinks it’s the best available option. Strategic Marketing 3.0 harnesses what every company has: customers, partners and its own culture to create a strategic framework based on how your firm creates superior value for its best customers. The result is a marketing plan that actually inspires your firm, delivering more of what you want—leads, revenue and loyal customers—with less waste and diffused efforts.
Strategic Marketing 3.0 doesn’t attempt to drive action based on slogans or crafty “marketing messages.” It rallies the individuals in your organization based on the very specific needs of your customers.
Giving voice—your customers’—to what your firm does, who it serves, and why it is better than the other options resonates much deeper into your firm—far beyond just sales and marketing. Empowering the engineering, operations or R&D teams in this way transforms your firm. By reaching through to marketing and the customer, not only are these groups more effective, but their work becomes more personally rewarding. They become part of a team involving the customer rather than being told to put their head down, and someone will tell them if it’s any good. Passionate people are more productive, more loyal, and attract other passionate people.
To quote the COO of the construction services client mentioned above, “It feels like we are firing on more cylinders because, well, we are.”
Bringing the Strategic Marketing 3.0 benefits to your firm
Discerning your firm’s real value to your customers is tougher than it seems. Even firms that “get it” often fall short by not digging deep enough. An outside perspective such as mine can be helpful in articulating your firm’s positioning in a way that is accurate, credible and compelling.
A Strategic Marketing Plan is valuable in its own right, helping your firm establish or extend competitive advantage using the resources you already have. The clarity that comes with Strategic Marketing 3.0 provides the foundation for making the jump from being a good firm to being a great one.
Conventional wisdom credits a combination of luck and charismatic leadership for exceptionally successful firms, meaning only a select few can be great. The conventional wisdom is wrong. While not all firms will be great, any firm can be.