The Benefits of Brand Focus

My branding work with a client drives home the benefits of focus when creating a brand strategy and considering product/service offerings.

The client is a small management-consulting firm.  I worked with the two partners of this firm when we were with a larger consulting and training firm.  They started their business in the early 2000s and, like many consultants, they built a nice business from their personal contacts.  Then the recession hit.  Their contracts were cancelled and many of their personal contacts retired or were laid off.  Of the contacts still in business, none were buying services.  My friends reached out to me to help them market themselves more effectively.

The first thing I noticed in looking at their web site was a large array of services that could be applied to almost any function in any industry.  This is not unusual for successful executives and consultants who have a rich experience base.  They are reluctant to take any services off the table because they feel they will lose out on business.   But if you look at this from the potential client’s point of view, he or she wants to know: What do you do really well, and why are you better than other service providers in meeting my need?

Through much soul searching and debate, and after a number of revisions we developed the focus for the firm: It helps manufacturers avoid problems and fix problems when they do occur.  This focus gave us a brand statement: Profit growth by avoiding and fixing problems.  It also became a test for the services they would offer.  Does this service help manufacturers avoid or fix problems?  Nope, then it’s out.  Yes, then we need to explain how.  By this process we removed half the services from the list.

This focus also allowed us to tailor the message.  Rather than generic copy that does not leave anyone out, we created copy that speaks to executives and managers in the manufacturing sector, using language they use to talk about challenges and solutions.

By the way, this brand focus does not mean these consultants cannot provide other services.  Once they are in the door, they will undoubtedly see other issues they can help address.  The trust they build in delivering on their brand promise can be leveraged against other needs.  Can they deliver on every need the client may have? No, but they can deliver against needs that are not too far from their brand promise.

Is this focus working?  So far, the results are very encouraging.  They have a pilot project in one plant of a large manufacturer, where a new plant manager wants to improve the problem-avoidance and problem-resolution capabilities of workers.  If the results from the pilot are positive, there is an opportunity to expand their work in that plant and the possibility to branch out to other plants of the manufacturer.

An anecdote:  One of the partners networked into another manufacturer through a personal contact.  When he was setting the meeting with the executive, the potential client’s administrative assistant asked: “What does your company do?”  In the past he may have talked about manufacturing excellence, continuous improvement, etc.   But he said: “We help manufacturers improve profitability by avoiding and fixing problems.”  To paraphrase her response:  “I think Mr. _____ will be interested in meeting you.”

I had a call with a prospective client two weeks ago.  She is a solo consultant in the human resources area and lists many services on her web site.  She was about to create a new web site, but one of her friends recommended that she get help defining her brand first.  She found me through a LinkedIn group (social media works!).  If she decides to make the investment in establishing brand focus, a large part of the project will center on identifying key services and markets.  The anticipated result?  A consultant who can confidently communicate a clear, concise brand.  I can’t wait!


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