The Competitive Advantage

tag: strategy

January 29, 2014

Just starting (or re-starting) your marketing & sales efforts? Follow these 4 important guidelines.

backpackerI had coffee last week with the principals from a small, local firm.  Been around several years, reasonably successful… and doing virtually nothing to grow their business.

What their inactivity boiled down to – and it applies to pretty much all small firms – is that everyone there wears a bunch of hats, most of which have to do with taking care of clients.  I get it.  And it’s not that they don’t want to grow their business, the problem is that no one is dedicated to marketing & sales and no one allocates much (if any) time to the firm’s growth.  Consequently, not much growth is going on.

Sound familiar?

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January 22, 2014

Are your clients ALWAYS right?

When I first got started in business, I used to say that “the client is always right.”l_nodding_dog_pink

Once I got a little time under my belt, that morphed into “the client is always right, but they aren’t always correct.”

Now, after three decades in business, it’s “the client is often right, but when they aren’t… it’s time to talk.”

Here are the 3 times when you must have a “direct” conversation with your clients…

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October 23, 2013

Hey small business owner! Time to get serious about marketing.

behind_8-ballAn independent research consultant (in business for 15+ years) reached out to me recently to learn about what we do.  In preparing for our call, I did a little homework on her firm.  Here’s what I found:

  • A YAHOO email address
  • An old, unattractive, homemade website
  • Website text that is all internally focused
  • No resources (articles, blog, etc.) available for website visitors
  • An incomplete LinkedIn profile… no image, generic LinkedIn address, etc.
  • No LinkedIn company profile
  • No listing/membership in key association – QRCA
  • No Twitter account that I could find
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October 1, 2013

Hey sales rep… do your homework!

Do you know who your customers are?  Sure you do.  You can probably describe them with some level of granularity.  And you know, in a broad way, what they do and how they use your services.  Good.

Well, I received a phone call (actually, they left a voice mail) yesterday that showed that not everyone is as smart as you.

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August 9, 2013

If your summer is slow, focus on marketing & sales for a competitive advantage; part 8 – Differentiate your firm

different2Our summer blog series has covered of number of tactical topics like developing a list of new sales prospects, enhancing your online presence or getting active on LinkedIn.  Now, it’s time to do a little strategic thinking…

When I was starting Harpeth Marketing and doing my due diligence, I spoke with research firms across the county.  One of the questions I asked every one of them was, “How do you differentiate your firm from your competitors?”

For those that didn’t have a point of differentiation (a POD) – which was the majority of them – the answers were consistent across the board… and not very compelling.  They all said nearly the same thing, “We do great work… we have great people… and we really take care of our clients.”

Sound familiar?!  Is that how you would respond to that question?  And if everyone is saying that – then no one is really different!  Which, for the most part, is the case.  And if that’s the case… how can research buyers make a decision?  How do you stand out?  Why should they choose you over your competitors?  Which leads us to…

Summer tip #8: Establish your Points of Differentiation

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May 7, 2013

Better, faster, cheaper… is it possible to deliver all 3 for a competitive advantage?

Creating strong client relationships is built on a 3-legged stool…wine

  • Excellent service
  • Low prices
  • Great products/services

And the presumption has always been… you can deliver on two… but never on all three.  E.g. You can be fast and cheap – but the quality won’t be so great.  Or, you can turn it around quickly with great products – but it’ll cost you.

I have always believed this to be true – not just in MR but in every industry – until I went wine shopping with a friend of mine at Beltway Fine Wine & Spirits, just outside of Baltimore, Maryland.

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