Hi everyone, it’s that time of the month again: Our latest BrandingWire Challenge:

Consulting Firm’s Client Base Profile:
Revenues: $1 million to $25 million
Employees: 150 or fewer
Verticals: High-tech and health care
Location: North America
Challenges: Consumers and other businesses have so many choices, that high-tech businesses as well as their other target audience made up of clinics and hospitals are either showing stagnant growth or they are losing market share.
Client’s Problem: They don’t know how to differentiate themselves from their competition.

Consulting Firm’s Challenge: As a small marketing firm, they are losing contracts to lower pricing and to bigger firms. The consultancy after three years has stopped growing and most of its clients buy one project and don’t return for more assistance for several years, if at all.

For once, I am not going to be all verbose and whatnot. This company is in trouble, and there is a lot of work to be done before we can get back to a fun and insightful conversation about differentiation and reaching the next level in its evolution. Here are my top recommendations to get this company out of its hole:

1) Based on the above information, your company is failing. It’s time to recognize that. Stand in front of the other principals, and have everyone say it outloud: “Our company is failing.” It might seem silly, but you need to do this. Have everyone say it, one at a time, and let it sink in. If you don’t do something drastic fast, everyone will be out of a job in a year. Those are the stakes. Accept them so you can face them. Period. Fail to do this, and you’re just wasting your time asking me for any advice.

2)Make an inventory of all of your current clients. They are your patrons. Your angels. They are the foundation upon which you will rebuild your business. Every former client or future client goes on a separate list. Don’t even worry about them right now. You have to focus on the duck in hand, not the two in the bush. Now go out there as if you were a startup, and focus on these clients. Make them LOVE you. Dazzle them. This is your chance to get back in the game, so do it. Throw “business as usual” out the window, and get back to your roots.

3) Make an assessment of whom on your staff is needed, and whom isn’t. Why? Because if you’re only billing $1M-$25M, you don’t need 150 people on the payroll.

4) Take a look at yourself as a company, from the outside in. There is a reason you aren’t getting a lot of return business. These are some possibilities:

a) You are not providing a good value to your clients.
b) You are providing a good value to your clients, but they can’t see it.
c) Your work is boring.
d) Your work is ineffective.
e) You are not projecting the right image as a company.
f) You are too slow.
g) You are too expensive.
h) You are difficult to deal with.
i) You are not offering the type of services they need.
j) You are not knowledgeable enough about their business and market to be effective anymore.
k) You’ve gotten tech-soft. Get back to the top of the game in the tech arena. Become a resource for tech apps again. (Trust me, if your business is flat, you haven’t been a resource for a while.)
l) Do a complete 360 review of your communications, from your website to your brochures to your blogs to your billing. Chances are that you need to freshen some things up a bit.

Your differentiation will be based upon your ability to nail every item on this list.

This isn’t about being creative and clever. It isn’t about changing a font or getting a new logo, or a new tagline. (Please spare us the re-branding waste of time.) It isn’t about throwing money and creative at a problem that needs a deeper solution.

(Applying a new coat of paint to a sinking ship is dumb. Instead, find the holes and plug them.)

It is simply about saying no to being average, and making a point to be the best again. This is where you start.

As usual, check out the rest of the posts on BrandingWire. Have a great Monday, everyone.