This May, all of our CPA and IT firm clients are returning to the basics of business development and “firing up” their marketing and sales engines to ensure that they have enough work to weather this economic downturn. Unfortunately, our anxious desire to jump in and “do something” often leads to failed activities and a negative perception about the firm’s ability to truly to a good job in this area.
To help you be more strategic about your firm’s marketing and sales investments and ensure they make the impact you need, examine your firm’s approach to the Five P’s of Marketing that include:
• Positioning – defining how you want to be thought of and remembered in your market
• Product/service mix – assessing and reaffirming your firm’s product/service offerings and identifying the priority in which you will market them
• Place – defining your firm’s ideal target client for each product/service and identifying the “place” where you will most easily find them
• Pricing – gaining agreement on how you want to be price positioned for each product/service you offer as a firm
• Promotion – developing a calendar of all of the firm-wide and individual branding and lead generation activities you and your people will undertake in the coming year
In this blog, we’ll explore these elements over the next month or so to help you as you ensure your firm’s plans pack maximum punch. Today, we’ll look at the best way to develop or refine your firm’s positioning.
When you create or refine your firm’s positioning, you define the very essence of your firm, including the following elements:
- Mission – why your firm exists and the difference it makes for others
- Vision – your leadership team’s “dream” for the future of your firm. Your vision should be a stretch for your firm and exciting and challenging to consider. Your vision includes the size you want to be, the services you’d like to offer and how you envision your firm three to five years from now
- Values – sometimes called your guiding principles, your values are your firm’s most important ideals and are things for which you’re willing to be held accountable
- Core competencies – these are your firm’s genuine strengths, areas of specialty or expert ability and the things for which you are known
- Competitive differentiators – differentiators are value-based advantages that set you apart from other firms and cause prospective clients and employees to choose you over others
- Market positioning -- Based upon your firm’s competitive landscape and core competencies, your leadership team must determine the best positioning – whether you want to be known as the “low-cost leader” (Wal-mart’s strategy), the “high-value provider” (Nordstrom model), a niche or specialty player or something else that is unique and allows people to know where to place you in their field of options
Defining your firm’s positioning has to be done before undertaking any marketing activities. Without clarity, your clients, prospects, team members and prospective employees will be “fuzzy” about what you stand for, where you’re headed, what they can expect when they work with you or why you’re different, which can lead to a desire to work with someone else whose positioning is clear and compelling.
Gaining clarity around your positioning will also unify your team and drive it forward. Because of its importance, developing your firm’s positioning is not a task to be delegated to a marketing professional; it is one that must include the active participation and buy-in of all of your firm’s leaders.
When you build your firm’s marketing plan around the Five P’s, starting with your firm’s positioning, your promotional activities will have the best chance of success and, when they generate opportunities, they will support your strategy instead of “accidentally” creating it.
For a step-by-step methodology to achieve practice growth, check out our self-study video course developed with the AICPA, Marketing: Successful Strategies for CPA Firms. Friends of ConvergenceCoaching can receive a 15% discount when you use code SGH by August 15. Visit www.cpa2biz.com for more information.
Watch future blog posts for an exploration of the other P’s. In the meantime, what have you done to position your firm? Do you have samples of your firm’s mission, vision, values, differentiation statements or other positioning elements that you’re willing to share? Post links!