Competition in professional services can be a good thing too. In fact, there is an added advantage: having competitors often means there is an established market for your niche. So instead of trying to sell what you do (try getting people to watch synchronized swimming), your challenge becomes selling you.
You can learn a lot about marketing—your services, your practice and your firm—by looking outward. Take a look at the firms you consider your toughest competition. But don’t stop there—study the brands you most admire and envision the firm you’d like to create. And then consider these 3 strategies.
- Imitation. Navigate the websites and compare the marketing collateral of your toughest competitors. Be brutally honest. If you could black out the logos, could you tell the difference between them? Imitation is easy—that’s why so many do it. The more you look like everyone else, the more your services sell like commodities. The best margins do not go to imitators.
- Aspiration. Don’t limit yourself to the usual suspects. Take a look at any brand you admire. Would you like to be the Nike of technology consultants? The Ferrari of estate attorneys? The Starbucks of wealth advisors? How do your most admired companies build their brand? What does your firm need to do, say and be to enter your version of their territory? Note to self: is my firm truly committed to living our aspirational brand?
- White space. Creating white space in your specialty is an art form. It defies competition—you may well have to create your own market for it. The first PC (IBM). The personal financial planning software that spawned an industry (Intuit). The pricing model that changed how people buy and listen to music (Apple). You’ll note the innovator isn’t always the last one standing—it takes vision, passion and superb execution to carry this off.
Imitation. Aspiration. White space. Which speaks to you?