- Your Sales Forecast Doesn’t Have to be a Guessing Game!
- Lead generation is a 3-step process.
- Measuring Sales… it’s Not just about Revenue
- 7 Selling Behaviors Seller-Doers Must Employ to be Successful.
- Can you really be “all things to all people?”
- 12 Marketing & Sales Activities you Gotta STOP this Year!
- How to maximize the impact of your marketing investment.
- Revenue Growth? Try the ‘5% Challenge’… it’s Brilliant!
- Should you ever walk away from revenue?
- Get Ready for 2017 with these 6 Marketing & Sales Activities
- 20 Marketing and Sales Concepts Business Leaders Need to Know, Part 2
- 20 Marketing and Sales Concepts Business Leaders Need to Know, Part 1
- 10 Guidelines for How to Be Successful at Sales
- Strategy Before Tactics!
- 6 Marketing & Sales Lessons Learned in our First 4 Years in Business
- The Sales Presentation: Stop Reading the PowerPoint Slides and Tell Your Story
- Content Marketing not working? Eh, don’t worry about it!
- Marketing Measurement: 3 New Methods You Have to Try in 2016
- The One Thing You Must Include in Your 2016 Marketing & Sales Plan
- Not using LinkedIn? Are you kidding me?!
- Is it OK to fire a client?
- Take Charge of Your Own Success… Stop Relying on Others!
- Getting first-time clients to take a chance on you.
- 9 Ways to Build your Business During the Summer Slowdown
- The Top 10 Ways to Build Awareness
- The 13 Most Common Website Mistakes
- The Most Important Part of Exhibiting
- Content marketing isn’t a one-time thing… it’s an all-the-time thing.
- THINKING! A framework for creating better business plans in 2015.
- Not happy with your marketing & sales? Then make just one change in 2015!
- For Beginners: Should I Tweet Daily? Yes… and here’s how.
- Got your Marketing Plan for 2015? No?! Now’s a good time to start…
- How to Connect with Booth Visitors – An Exhibitor’s Worksheet
- Not getting the email results you want? Make sure you’re following these 7 email marketing guidelines.
- 10 Ways to Get Clients to Sell FOR You (and they won’t cost a dime!)
- Do you know where you’re going? Why Strategy should drive your marketing & sales.
- 11 execution tips to help you exceed client expectations
- How to Turn First-time Clients into Repeat Clients
- 15 easy, low-cost marketing and sales tactics for 2014 – Part 2
- 15 easy, low-cost marketing and sales tactics for 2014 – Part 1
- 13 Lessons for Researchers Who Don’t Want (or Like) to Sell
- Social media marketing success in 30 minutes a day
- Get it right! You can’t manage what you don’t measure.
- It’s not that complicated! A common sense approach to the marketing & sales process.
- How MR firms are blowing it with new customers: Lessons learned while secret shopping
- Management or sales… you can’t serve two masters.
- Prove it! Nine ways to convince prospects to work with you for the first time.
- Five everyday ways to grow your business
- How that ‘one great client’ could doom your firm
- Six marketing and sales mistakes MR firms make every day
- Eight proven ways to build awareness – and why you should!
- Suspects, Prospects and Clients: Is your firm focused on the right target?
- A Checklist for Conducting Your Own Marketing & Sales Audit
- Learning to play the game: What football can teach us about marketing
- Differentiating your firm in a crowded marketplace
- 25 low- or no-cost ways to grow your business
- 15 Reasons E-mail Still Matters in Sales and Marketing
- Come prepared, dress the part and follow up: 10 dos for exhibiting at MR trade shows
- No rookies, no gum and no Frisbees: 10 don’ts for exhibiting at MR trade shows
- How to see yourself as clients see you
- Marketing 101: It takes Work to make it Work
- Use the 8 Ps of Marketing when Setting Strategy
- Integrate the 4 As of Marketing into Your Planning
- Size Does Matter: 4 Approaches to Growing Your Business
- The 12 Guiding Principles of Marketing (part 2)
- The 12 Guiding Principles of Marketing (part 1)
Can you really be “all things to all people?”
Transforming your firm from ‘generalist’ to ‘specialist.’
Here’s a really interesting exercise… spend some time over the next day or so scrolling through the websites of a number of market research firms – even small and mid-sized ones – and one of the really unusual things you’ll find is this: the majority of firms claim to be experts in a whole bunch of different research methodologies… serving all kinds of industry verticals or markets… with the ability to seemingly solve every kind of marketing, branding or product problem. Kinda strains credibility, huh?
In addition, these “generalists,” have a really BIG problem they have to deal with every day… not only are they competing with every other generalist out there (which is the majority of firms), they’re also competing with a different batch of specialists on every project. Yikes!
Question 1: So, if you are a generalist, should you consider transforming your firm into some sort of specialist?
First of all, I understand that if you’re a long-standing, established firm (and especially if you’re a large firm), you can’t just shut down all of that infrastructure and break off relationships with some of your clients. But, if you don’t start making some moves in that direction, you’ll continue in the position of trying to be all things to all people.
Try this analogy: If you develop a heart problem, are you going to see your family doctor… or are you scheduling an appointment with a cardiologist?! You’ll pick the heart specialist every time. The same thing applies in research… if you’re a research buyer and need to conduct a study of senior citizens, for example, are you going to pick a research firm that does a geriatric study every once in a while… or a firm whose specialty is researching seniors?
Question 2: OK, let’s say you should morph your firm from generalist to specialist. Is it even possible?
Possible? Yes… but it won’t be easy. These 3 steps can provide some guidelines…
Decide where to specialize. Will it be by industry (e.g. CPG or Tech)… by market (e.g. Hispanic or Millennials)… by methodology (e.g. online qual)… by application (e.g. concept testing or CX)… or some other way? Or maybe a few of those… or even some combination of them? Whatever the focus, how do you decide? Since you’re in the market research industry… do a little research:
- What areas of specialty are the biggest drivers of revenue for your firm today? Leverage those areas where you’re already successful.
- What in-house expertise do you have? Build around your existing strengths.
- What’s your vision/what do you want to do? While the market will largely dictate what you should do, as an owner or senior executive, your interests are also part of the equation.
- What are the top trends in the Market Research industry that you need to consider?
- What about top trends in the Industry Verticals or Markets you serve?
- Anything interesting going on with your clients, prospective clients or competitors that needs to be factored in?
The more data you gather, the better decision you’ll be able to make.
Focus your marketing & sales. One of the benefits of the focus that comes with being a specialist is that decision-making becomes so much clearer. For example, suppose you decide to specialize in market research for the Financial Services industry. Where do you advertise? Simple… in those publications that Financial Services marketers and corporate researchers read. In which conferences do you exhibit? Same thing… where the FinServ research buyers are. What type of content should you develop… which LinkedIn groups are best to join… which hashtags should you use in Twitter? You get the picture.
In addition to where to do your marketing… you can now deliver a clear, targeted message to the Financial Services industry… highlighting your experience in that area, your in-house expertise, your client success stories from that industry and so on. It’s the message of a specialist!
Finally… stay strong! Moving from generalist to specialist is not an easy path. There will be times –driven by opportunities outside of your specialty – that you’ll want to back slide and maybe “cheat” a little bit. Do everything you can to resist that temptation. It’s a slippery slope and it’s difficult to stop the slide back to becoming “all things for all people!”
In particular, stop accepting projects outside of your specialty. This will be your biggest challenge! After all, who wants to walk away from revenue? But if you’re going to be a specialist and build your brand around it… you have no choice! Yes, the reality is that you close yourself off to certain revenue streams. The flip side is, though, now that you’re a specialist, you move to the top of the vendor list for those firms looking for suppliers in that specific area.
Should you transform your firm from generalist to specialist? It’s a major strategic shift that will impact nearly everything you do… so only you can answer that question. Obviously, I believe in it… but if the idea intrigues you, at the very least, block off some time to think about it and talk about it amongst senior management at your firm. Whatever the outcome, at least you’ll have a clearer direction on how to move forward.
Need a little help brainstorming on this topic? Download our 7th eBook: Why Should I Choose You? How to Differentiate your Firm in a Crowded Marketplace. To access it, Click Here.