[box]This is the latest in our “How Industry Focused is Your Firm?” discussion series.[/box]
Has your firm adapted its service offerings to the specific needs of each client’s industry?
The services, skills, and expertise your firm provides may be well defined, but to really resonate with clients, you have to demonstrate that those offerings will fit their specific needs.
Adapting your services to each industry you serve is important because, ultimately, clients are not interested in one-size-fits-all solutions.
Ask yourself: What are the business needs that you’re trying to address?
Clients are buying your expertise, specifically tailored to solve their problems. The goal of adaptation is to demonstrate the relevance of your firm’s competence and make clients and prospect feel confident that you understand their problems.
Talk to the client in their language, using examples they can relate to and understand.
As a service provider, you must demonstrate that you understand the risks and problems that your clients face. Adapting your discussion around critical issues to resonate with each industry will strengthen your clients’ conviction that you understand the priorities within their specific industries.
One of the best ways to do that is to address a client’s problem using the same language that industry insiders use. If you speak your client’s language, they’ll feel more comfortable trusting you with their business.
The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), for example, shares impact stories and links to their industry experts’ biographies from their industry-specific pages. On targeted pages, they use industry language to pose rhetorical questions for clients to ask themselves, such as this question on their medical devices and technology page: “How can we protect our pricing power in an environment where clinical differentiation is decreasing, regulation and transparency are increasing, and competition is intensifying?”
What BCG is demonstrating is not only industry competence, but a willingness to put their clients first. Rather than grandstanding about their own virtues, as many firms are prone to doing, they shine a spotlight both on client success stories and the standing questions and challenges that clients continue to face.
Show that you understand the business impact.
Read between the lines for your client. Translate new laws into their language. Show them how a new broad-based regulation will affect their business. Even if it’s a general rule or regulation, there will always be an opportunity to talk about it in industry-specific ways.
Social media is a timely illustration. If you’re advising clients in a variety of industries, you could put out several white papers about how social media trends are affecting business, each of which would be adapted to address the needs of each specific industry.
The white paper for a pharmaceuticals business might talk about the interplay between social media and drug advertising rules or around using social media for increased collaboration across research teams, whereas a report for a hotel chain could describe how social media can be used to enhance customer service.
In both cases, you’re boiling down the generic trends into specific information that they can apply to their industry. You’re not just telling them what’s happening; you’re showing them how they can apply it, how it will affect business, and what the impact will be to the bottom line.
Demonstrate your agility and expertise in your own marketing materials.
So, the question becomes, how do you show clients that your practice can adapt and has adapted to their industries beyond generic, out-of-the-box solutions?
For starters, you have to market to the problems you know that you can address. Talk about the industry-specific problems you can solve and the opportunities you can seize. That goes for all areas of your marketing and client-facing collateral, from the copy on your website to monthly newsletter topics to the content of proposals.
If your firm has 15 years of working with high-tech clients, play that up by showing the business results you’ve helped them achieve. Put your client case studies and testimonials on your firm’s website or portfolio to back up your assertions about the industries you serve and the problems you solve. Introduce clients, in print or in person, to your niche experts and share their industry-specific success stories.
When you let your practice’s work speak for itself, you’re letting clients know that they won’t have to teach you the nuances of their industry. They can trust you to provide value by delivering top-shelf results in a reasonable timeframe for a reasonable cost. They’ll develop greater confidence in you as an industry expert.
In many ways adapting your services is less about creating an industry specific list of services, since clients rarely buy from a pre-defined menu, it’s really about describing your firm’s ability to solve problems in each of the industries you serve.