Control (or options).
It can seem like positioning and then business development are primarily about keeping busy, but that’s not quite true. It is what most firms believe, though, which is why they crank up their own marketing efforts when the pipeline looks empty. And then when the firm gets busy again, they abandon the pursuit of new business and go back to keeping clients happy.
That porpoise cycle is reactive, sure, but it also feeds the notion that the marketplace should determine how big your firm is. More work around the corner? Hire people! Clients shut off the pipeline? Lay employees off!
We have a different vision for your firm that starts with an understanding of the real role of marketing: control. You see, it takes a lot of courage to turn down a mildly qualified client that would fill that slot on your roster that just became empty, especially if it’s that or dismiss employees. But if we can give you two possibilities for that one slot and you only need enough courage to choose the more qualified of the two, well, that’s easier!
To put this differently, the best relationships in business are ones that are characterized by distributed control. The client’s control is obvious, from wasting your time or not giving you enough of it. And then all of the way to firing you. But what control do you have in that relationship? Here’s the answer: the only control you have in a professional service relationship is to withhold your expertise. And when you do that, the clock starts.
Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.
When the client believes that they have found a suitable substitute, the clock stops—and that elapsed time correlates inversely with how much control you had in that relationship. The quicker they replace you, the less control you had.
Now we get to the concept of “availability of substitutes,” a term used in economics. The more substitutes there are, the less power you have, because you can more easily be replaced. If you are an undifferentiated firm, you’re facing a world with ca. 45,000 substitutes (i.e., competitors).
Now some tough love: you do good work with good people, but neither of those are exclusive to your agency. There are many good firms out there. But with the new research on positioning we’ll walk you through, let’s guide you to become substantively different and get that number of competing firms down to between 10 and 200. And then we’ll carefully craft a hit list of about 2,000-8,000 truly matched prospects for you.
But that’s just the advanced positioning part, and the research behind this will stun you. Nothing changes at your firm, though, until you pair that positioning with a tested and thoughtful lead generation plan. We’ll delve very deeply into the twenty-six agency-proven ones and then help you select four or six of them to implement at your firm. We’ll have to be realistic about the ones you’ll be excited and disciplined enough to actually implement.
You may need help closing opportunity, too, which is why this year Blair Enns of Win Without Pitching will be a featured speaker. This is quite different from a traditional sales eco-system, which we think you should avoid. Playing the part of supplicant doesn’t mesh with expertise.
Together, let’s build an authentic and honorable approach to closing opportunity. This is a serious seminar and you won’t be comfortable unless you are smart, courageous, and disciplined. But if you’re a good fit, expect your fee billings per full-time employee to rise 20% by the end of 2017. Better yet, though, expect to grow comfortably into the role of an expert and feel far more in control of your new business efforts.
Will you join us? It’s a very small risk with a very large payoff. It’s all new, too, and the level of learning will be astounding to you.
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David C. Baker is the principal of ReCourses, a frequent contributor to nearly every marketing publication, and a speaker at nearly every marketing conference (and several TEDx events). His work has appeared in the WSJ, USA Today, Fast Company, Inc. Magazine, Forbes, and BusinessWeek. He is the author of four books and has advised nearly 1,000 marketing firms in the last 22+ years.