In the last issue, I highlighted a number of marketing challenges across a diverse subsection of markets I serve. Interestingly enough, many B2B technical services firms face these challenges with no clue as to how to address them.
It’s about time you got some answers!
You will likely have challenges in other areas of your business. But one area that you are likely a top professional is in your core business. However as a whole, What’s the most important thing your company must do to thrive in this or any other tough economy?
Take this single question quiz to see how you score:
- What is the critical most important thing your business must do to grow in any tough economy?
- a. Do a better job in both quality and delivery than anyone else in our market place.
- b. Gain the maximum amount of exposure to stay top of mind with existing and prospective customers.
- c. Be the best in sales and marketing to gain the largest share of profitable customer.
The answer to this question really defines the real business you are in. Choose your answer, write it down. No peeking, do you choose a, b, or c?
Only the right answer will insure your survival…
Let’s take a quick look at your choices. You know I’m not one for beating around the bush. My analysis will make it obvious which is the right answer.
- Unfortunately many technical services providers focus on skills, being the best of breed in their industry.
With all the talent they can find on their payroll overhead grows while jobs get fewer and further between. There are a lot of really good technical services providers on the brink of bankruptcy because they don’t have customers to serve.
Being really good is only a benefit after you have a customer — being the best at what you do really only helps keep customers because prospects have no way of measuring your true value.
After all, prospects can’t see the results of what you’ll do for them until after they have committed to the risk of hiring you. Common objections prove this,
“I already have a provider in mind.”
“Sticking with the company who did the work last time.”
When you get right down to it, your customers can’t tell you that the solution they purchased was good. They will speak in generic terms because you sell complex solutions that are often black box to the buyers. They only know good work by opinion, a check against specification, and no major mistakes.
- Building your brand, gaining exposure, and being top of mind is only going to make you broke.
Sure, if you’re a big dumb company you might be able to buy enough exposure to have your logo recognized. Even better, your company name associated with what you do. But in the meantime you won’t be able to make payroll, yet alone make any profits.
Large corporations invest millions of dollars a year to be recognized — yet that even backfires when it comes down to a bid specification when multiple vendors come in with the same solutions. Many with the same name brand parts.
One of my marketing mentors Dan Kennedy says,
“Get enough exposure and you’re frozen dead.”
Without relevance, your “out of the box” brand building seems nothing more than an obnoxious boasting. It says nothing to what buyers really want.
If neither “a” nor “b” is the right answer then…
- Your only choice for long term stability is to become a marketer of the technical services you do. This isn’t fancy pants Madison Avenue marketing, but instead marketing measured by sales results.
Gaining profitable customers is the only sustainable way to grow in every economy.
- This means you aren’t necessarily going to be the best at what you do, but you’ll know how to reach and serve a specific segment of customers. This is no excuse for providing shabby work. Your company will likely still excel in the quality of work — even if they don’t do the work themselves.
In addition, you’ll own these customers by putting yourself in a toll booth position.
That means, anytime someone else wants to sell to these customers, they will need to pay you. I’ve worked with a number of large companies who were once very tiny then grew into these positions.
When you own the customer AND understand the technical standards necessary to do that job, you can easily find labor to fill the demand.
If you selected any answer other than “C” then you failed this quiz — and unless a change is made, this will only work for someone who knew the right answer.
Two practical examples of how you can easy subordinate your competitors:
PRB Associates Inc (now Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation)
- had such a back log of contracts that they started picking up subcontractors to handle the load. They were able to get premium pricing as they grew because they could hand select the best and most profitable contracts willing to pay more for immediate service.
Their business development team worked around the clock whether they needed business or not. One of my projects was to setup and tear down equipment for their dog and pony shows. At every location, they were serving customers, they were marketing customers to grow and expand accounts.
Eagan McAllister Associates Inc (now owned by SAIC)
- focused on dominating a few specific military bases with a knack for earning blanket purchase agreements. Year after year they opened the doors to software engineers, integrators, and service positions.
To staff that they partnered with larger organizations as well as minority owned businesses. Many of the teams I worked with included a few people from a handful of partners. They built up teams to do specific work that their competitors could only do parts.
While these examples are in the government and military sectors where cooperation is often limited, I’ve seen the same model work for commercial firms. Even the modern IBM and AT&T technical services divisions use contractors while focusing core talent on marketing of those services.
That’s why you can’t take these big companies head on until you get marketing straight. Because they own the customer, they literally have an unlimited supply of labor.
Good news is that the big technical services companies like EDS, IBM, HP Services, and a handful more that I work with on my contracting side are bogged down with waste.
These big companies are literally facing ALL the marketing challenges — just with a lot more money to hide the problems. With diverse marketing efforts, national campaigns, and large budgets to spend — you can with a smaller organization out pace them while benefiting from the names they already have in place.
That’s what strategic relations is about — fighting an enemy funded by their own resources while doing the things they can’t do. Done right you get exit options (much better than a strategy) and great opportunity for everyone you work with.
I’ve seen relatively small companies dominate a market while subjecting their competitors to the point of dependency. Even a tight economy opens the door to equity shares, cooperative efforts,and greater stability for you.
A year or so ago, I put together an audio program on “Dominate Your Market Even if You Don’t Do the Work“, and recently updated it. If you’re interested in details about this kind of strategy, then write asking for program# CK1-F0926A.
The key take away is the change in mindset from a doer of a service to a marketer of a service. In the case of my specialty, the marketing of B2B technical services.
After all, when you have the customer AND the insight do the work, then labor isn’t a problem. Because so many focus on the wrong things, there are many great people with technical skills looking for work.
Strategic Relations Consultant
Questions? 24/7 Phone Fax: +1 (757) 282-7779
P.S. If you failed this quiz, your only hope may be to get involved with the Applying Strategic Relations program. As a GOLD member or higher, I’ll ruthlessly put money back in your pocket while giving you the tools to dominate your industry. Only available to the little guy, learn more by visiting http://www.ApplyingStrategicRelations.com/
Justin Hitt shows smart B2B technical services firms how to create and keep profitable customers using sustainable methods starting from where you are today. For practical insights, useful tools, and resources that put money in your pocket, consider membership in his coaching program Applying Strategic Relations.
- Getting to Know You - May 27
- Easiest Money You’ll Ever Make - May 20
- Loyal Subscriber Gift - May 13
- Subordinating Your Competitors - May 6
- Second Chance ASR Membership - April 29
- Welcome to INSIDE STRATEGIC RELATIONS - April 22
- Evolution of Organizational Behavior - April 17
- Biggest Marketing Challenges - March 29
- Business Relationship to Profits - March 26
- What Prospects See - January 23