This month's BrandingWire challenge in the B2B space involves a small marketing consulting firm that is losing contracts to lower priced bids and to bigger companies. After three years in business, the firm's growth has slowed down considerably -- many of their clients buy one-off projects and may not return for subsequent engagements.
The firm's client profile is important to consider
They have been working exclusively with companies that have 150 employees or less, generate revenues between $1-25MM and are based in North America. So far, they seem to have concentrated on companies that operate in the high tech and health care sectors, which are both experiencing explosive growth due to two main movements (as inspired by the Map of the Future, the Institute of the Future):
- We have come to rely very heavily on technology -- the analyst reports (loosely Forrester) are filled with issues of corporate governance, risk and compliance, enterprise content management strategies, information leak prevention and integration-centric business processes, etc. We are also more connected, from individual to social network and empowered. What can be smart self-organized groups of productive people may turn into collective power that can alter markets, politics and society as well as provide strong feedback loops.
- The anxiety about health and longevity is growing -- since we are more connected, challenges like pandemics will get close and personal. Furthermore, the intersection between environment, health, and lifestyle will continue to receive attention. We're aging -- many of our peers are now dealing with the difficulty of researching options and making decisions about the long term care of their parents and relatives. Although by and large we have access to many more resources on preventive health, the reality is that we live longer, and may need some form of assistance down the road.
These two forces may converge in new dynamic forms of cooperation, where technological modifications to the human body go from stigma to style, for example.
According to our brief, consumers and businesses have so many choices that high tech companies and clinics/hospitals are either showing stagnant growth or losing market share -- in other words they do not know how to differentiate themselves from each other.
Modify the Sales Approach
BrandingWire client is the small marketing consulting firm and we recommend they take a look at a couple of suggestions to modify their sales approach and map to those trends to help their customers capitalize on them:
- Take a look at studies that flesh out the trends as they are affecting current stories and then cross reference your customer base -- high tech and health care companies -- where do they fit? What capabilities do they have? Who do they have on board, what skill sets does the organization have collectively?
- Do you have the ability to source research or partner with a research company that can provide more information to help your customers make any necessary changes to *their* business plan, if they were attuned to that?
- Then you may work on helping them find a niche and build a new brand based upon that niche. Once you know who's on board and why anyone would go to them or hire them, you work on helping them formulate their value proposition.
Right Size Marketing (the strategy)
We will go the extra step to ensure that your business succeeds by partnering with you to find the right value proposition and unlocking that value to your customers. The marketing consulting firm needs to be viewed as an adviser and a partner vs. a tactical shop that can get the brochure done. That will allow the firm to command higher prices.
We will also work efficiently with you on your challenges, there is no B team, you get the "A" team and all the attention and care your business deserves. There is usually a concern with smaller organizations, like our firm's customer base, that while a large company may have greater resources, they do not pay the right kind of attention to smaller fish.
I call this strategy right size marketing. We are the right fit for you and will help you find the right fit for your customers.
Start Small, Build Referrals (the tactics)
During your research of your customer base, find one or two companies you feel confident you can help hone in their niche. In other words, find those who may already know they've got something and are looking for someone to help them unlock it. Lead with your refocusing on helping your customers find their focus within their fields given both high tech and health care are hot buttons at the moment.
Start with why this is such a great time to be in the high tech/health care industries. Lead with a story about their environment and the challenges their customers are facing in finding the right provider. When you've done your homework and started with the right companies, you will have an extra spring in your voice.
Once you begin work with one or two of your prospects and they become clients, be exceptionally attentive to their needs -- deliver, deliver, deliver. Your enthusiasm and desire to help them will shine through. Work with them on getting their story out to their customers in any venue you can -- from trade journals to the blogosphere, depending on their interest, budget and time and your creativity and skill. Make them the heroes and you will shine of reflected light.
For other contributions to this brand challenge check out the posts by fellow BrandingWire experts Patrick Schaber, Becky Carroll, Drew McLellan, Gavin Heaton, Steve Woodruff, Kevin Dugan, Olivier Blanchard, Martin Jelsema, Lewis Green and Derrick Daye.