Five Habits of Competitive Firms

If you are reading this as the principal or partner of a firm, you know your days are numbered.

You are either mid-career or late career. Most technology we use daily didn’t exist prior to your birth. The value of young talent has appreciated like gold.

Feeling obsolete yet? Wait, there’s more unfairness.

Your company’s future success hinges on attracting and training young talent while also delivering sophisticated consulting expertise to clients who demand high and immediate value for their fees.

You need to compete.

Ingenuity focuses on helping you compete. Our insights are based on hundreds of leadership and client interviews and in-depth competitive intelligence. Based on this data, we reveal five habits of consistently competitive firms.

1. They know their competitive sweet spots.

Don’t assume you know your competitive difference. It may have changed. When we interview leaders about why people choose them, their answers usually don’t match their clients’ answers.

One-on-one client interviews or facilitated client focus groups reveal stories — often deeply personal stories — about why your brand resonates with buyers and keeps their loyalty. By the same token, industry intelligence helps you identify opportunities your competitors may have missed. A third-party analysis will confirm your path to promote your brand difference and tap new money makers.

2. They develop people and technology.

Speaking to a third-generation firm recently, we noted a clear career path from their technical experts to leadership in the firm. The current CEO started at an entry level position a decade earlier and was groomed to expand a niche and train other staff.

In addition, firm leaders understood the value of updated technology to serve clients quickly and promote its services. From CRM systems to a mobile-friendly website, the firm communicated “progressive” to young talent and clients ready to trust them with their futures.

3. They communicate value consistently and concisely.

According to Daniel Pink, bestselling author of such psychology-of-business books as “To Sell is Human,” the new ways to pitch your business have become shorter, more like a tagline than a sentence. His examples include the one-word pitch, the Twitter pitch and the email subject line pitch. Messages must be brief, memorable and clear. If they are visual and social media-friendly, like a video, all the better.

Rather than overwhelm a buyer with all your services and options and past experience, build your pitch around what the buyer will gain. Then shut up and listen. Listen for objections. Listen for pain. Listen for questions. Align client service and sales around buyer intelligence, not your own.

4. They think out of the box.

Competitive firms are finding new ways to differentiate their approach to growth, recruitment and visibility. Whether it’s an exclusive event, “owning” industry intelligence or establishing a nationwide market position, they are willing to risk being first and looking different.

One of the newest marketing trends we’re witnessing is a move away from industry brands to business or alternative brands. Staff can be “rock stars” of work culture or they can be “international diplomats” fueling the world’s economic engine. Competitive firms are ready to be emotional as well as logical to stand out.

5. They anticipate change.

One thing is certain. Leaders will one day turn over the keys. The sooner they embrace this next stage, the better off their firm will be when they leave. And they will reap the personal and financial rewards of building a healthy firm for the next generation.

If you need help anticipating change — whether you are a firm leader or a marketing professional looking for out-of-the-box strategies and the capacity to deliver them quickly — Ingenuity is your game changer. Let’s play!

Dawn Wagenaar is a principal at Ingenuity. Email her at dawn@ingenuitymarketing.com or call her at 651-690-3358.