Have you stopped recently to ask yourself, what type of value does your business create for clients and does it meet the expectation of how you want your clients to perceive you?
Personally, I find it an extremely valuable and thankfully, simple exercise. It’s a process I use with our clients to ensure they are ready to scale their advisory business and are clear on what their bigger picture looks like.
In services industries there are various forms of value on offer to clients. Some value is built through strategic and ongoing services – for example developing a strategic plan and SOA. Or ongoing investment management and business accounting.
Some value is also derived from the way in which services are delivered, and experienced by the client. For example, a service provider that focuses on high attention to detail offers a different form of value to clients versus a business that focuses on immediacy of response.
So how, as a business, do you articulate this value to new clients? Do you present your proposition in a way that fully reflects the value you offer? Is there an opportunity to establish new forms of value perception?
Let’s break these three forms of value creation down:
Success in life and business can be thought of in the same way, both require us to deal with a range of facets in parallel. In business, we may think about these as functions e.g. marketing, product design, financial management, the list goes on. What we endeavour to achieve in business, and in life, is to have all facets of our universe moving in alignment and performing optimally. In other words, specialist areas performing in unison, guided by a central strategy (or ambition).
Service businesses generally fall into one of three categorisations that contribute in-part or wholly to this ambition:
Strategic Services: Businesses that are engaged to set the foundations, or make foundational change. Ultimately and in the case of advisory, delivering a tailored and coherent plan to align a person’s channels of wealth creation to achieve the optimal outcome. The perceived values these businesses are building are thought-leadership and expertise.
Specialist Services: Businesses that are engaged to manage a specialist area, in business this may be a PR agency, or for the consumer market, a GP. More often than not, specialist services are longer-term engagement because the offer a specific skill that the recipient cannot execute themselves. The type of value you are building here is trust and dependability.
A combination of both: These ‘full service’ businesses often lean one way or the other in terms of strategic or specialist capabilities. However, when the right balance is achieved, they can build both sets of perceived value i.e. thought leadership and trustworthiness.
Often businesses talk about the desired attributes of their brand. Common ones are wanting to be seen as trustworthy, innovative or an expert. How you deliver your services, not just the nature of your services, can equally contribute to building these attributes.
You may operate in a conservative industry and therefore if you use technology to drive efficiencies, you’ll be seen as more innovative than your competitor. In contrast, in a modern, fast-moving industry, committing to face-to-face, high touch service will help build the dependability qualities that your competitors may lack.
Speed, attention to detail, responsiveness, proactivity, they all build different perceptions. Consider your services and consider how you deliver them. Are you building all of the required elements to have high-value relationship, long-term relationships with your clients?
Once you’re clear on the value you deliver and the ways in which you deliver it, consider how you present your business to the market. Brand experts use frameworks such as brand code. In simple terms your brand code is 1) Your message to market and 2) The tone and visual language that wraps it.
You can amplify your desired attributes by conveying them through your brand. For example, look at the big four consultancies’ websites. They lead with information on market trends as a way to present themselves as thought leaders. In contrast, a more suburban accountancy will present imagery of them engaged with clients to feel more trustworthy and dependable.
Technology can help you look at the fundamentals of your business i.e. the services you provide and how you provide them. Software solutions can help you build out your capabilities and in-turn ensure you’re developing the right brand attributes to build long-term, healthy client relationships.
If you are a strategic-led business, software can be used to deliver your core services. It can also be employed to create ongoing engagement by tracking the progress of strategies with clients (put simply, goal tracking). This creates ongoing revenue opportunities, and through longer-term engagement, you build greater trust and advocacy, helping to attract new clients.
If you are a specialist service business, software can bring significant efficiencies to how you deliver your ongoing services. This hands you time to be more strategic with your clients, and to widen the opportunity and scope of your engagement.
When you’re unsure of the composition of your business’s value, go back to the common desire of businesses and your clients alike i.e. are you lifting the performance and alignment of numerous aspects of their universe. The more you can contribute to this overarching need, the more valuable you will become.
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