Are you confusing prospects by offering everything?
By Marian Temesvary
Narrow your focus to grow your firm.
Professional services firms, such as agencies and consultants, are often reluctant to focus their areas of expertise in fear of missing out on opportunities. Yet experience shows that a clear focus has just the opposite effect: it broadens your reach and impact with the clients you are best qualified to serve.
If you want to achieve sustainable growth, go narrow. Clearly identify where the company excels and make it your mission to be absolutely best in class in that area. While it may mean closing off certain revenue streams in the short term, it is ultimately a way to future-proof your company because you become the ideal partner for clients seeking your strengths.
Brands in the health space typically look for highly specialized advisors. They seek out partners who are fluent in health-related categories, audiences, technologies, tools or disciplines. They value genuine expertise over generalization. Prospects also want to know that you understand their unique business challenges and can solve them, without excessive education about the category, product, segment or service. Double down on your expertise and you will ultimately increase engagement with your clients and prospects, and achieve more profitable relationships.
“Expertise renders your work less interchangeable.”
– David C. Baker, The Business of Expertise
Follow these steps to find focus.
Identify your firms’ superpower.
Assess what your agency does exceptionally well and make a plan to strengthen those areas. Ask your clients about your secret sauce. And don’t be afraid to ask what you don’t do as well. (An outside resource to conduct interviews can be a secret weapon in this part of the process, as it moves the conversation away from the daily business.) Be intentional about removing, or at least minimizing, offerings that aren’t at the core of your business or within the capabilities of your own team.
Double down on your area(s) of expertise.
Once your firm is on board with the focus areas, invest in becoming a best-in-class provider. Ensure your entire team is up to speed, educated on the subject matter, and monitoring the topic/category/technology etc. Consider creating proprietary content through research, either on your own or with partners. Intellectual property of this type can be leveraged as thought leadership to drive client retention and new client engagement.
Market the heck out of them.
Make sure your marketing, sales messaging and materials are aligned with your focus. Promote your expertise front and center across all marketing assets, paid and earned. Build a content strategy that amplifies your expertise to start conversations with the people you want to do business with. Use intellectual property, white papers, webinars and speaking engagements to draw in prospects. Bonus: this also creates trust and stickiness with current clients and can grow those relationships.
Narrow your focus to drive growth.
When you offer everything, you compete with everyone. A few things happen when your firm finds that sweet spot of expertise. You may notice your competition is virtually eliminated, or at least limited. Once you determine your focus, your competition will be a fraction of what it was before.
When you narrow your focus, former competitors can become partners. You may find that former competitors provide an expertise that enhances or augments yours. Suddenly you have many potential partners. In this case, the benefit of a narrow focus could lead to the greatest amount of growth for your agency – through coming together with firms who specialize in different areas in the same industry to provide best-in-class services to clients.
Improve your product
Practice one thing for hundreds of hours instead of hundreds of things for one hour. Once you eliminate the areas that are not the firms’ top strengths, you’ll spend more time learning and practicing within your area of focus. You will find it easier to keep up with the latest methods and trends within your space and be able to hone your skills and services.
The most important benefit of a narrow focus is the increased value you bring to your clients – and the premium you can charge for it. When you provide a specific service for a specific industry, you are better and faster at solving problems. You understand client needs and spend less time learning with each new project. Clients will put a higher value on that than they would for a more generalist partner.
Think of all the revenue generating opportunities you will create when you excel in your uniqueness. A clear focus on your expertise ensures your firm is easy to buy and difficult to dismiss. Your clients and prospects need more specialists to help them create competitive advantage.