My contrarian approach to building marketing strategy isn’t for everyone, but for good firms determined to be Great, the results are highly effective.
Agencies start with firm leaders: their values, visions, and goals. From there, they develop brand, messaging, personas, and the customer journey. It culminates in targeting the ideal customer with the ideal message.
Sounds great. It CAN work.
The level of success depends on understanding WHY their ideal client select that firm. Experience with dozens of companies–backed by hundreds of customer interviews–is firms project motivations on your clients, but don’t really know.
I dispense with the ideal client to focus on a firm’s Best Clients. These are the ones you would clone if you could. They are a tangible proxy for the most profitable, loyal, fun to work and easiest to sell clients.
Hypothetical ideal clients may not exist. Best Clients bring years of history. Getting more of them aligns everyone.
Knowing WHO isn’t enough. Best Clients may look alike—or they may cut across conventional segments. You get more Best Clients with a deep understanding of why THESE clients choose to work with YOUR firm. Call it your secret sauce.
I reverse engineer the secret sauce by interviewing the Best Clients. Below the surface, the magic isn’t value or expertise. “Responsiveness” may be part of the answer, but “responsive” means different things: fast, thorough, personal, or even an anticipatory response. Often, more valuable than “expertise” is asking the right questions.
What results is positioning and messaging tailored to YOUR Best Clients. Plans are focused and effective. Messages are simpler and easier to understand, remember, and share.
The entire client development process shifts from being about what your firm does to being about how you improve the client’s business. Clients notice immediately. Who doesn’t want to work with a firm that focuses on you?
Would you rather serve more of your Best Clients or chase after ideal clients?