More and more competition for your consulting firm is flooding the field every day. Your prospective clients can choose from an ever-increasing range of solo consultants, independent boutiques, freelancers on platforms like Catalant, plus the big-name firms. How does your consulting firm stand out? What makes you unique?
Here’s a better question: should your consulting firm’s uniqueness stand out?
That depends on your goal.
If your goal is to be able to preen about how unusual and different your consulting firm is and gain admiration from peers, then the answer is Yes.
If, however, your goal is to win clients more easily, then the answer is No.
Common marketing wisdom (derived, primarily from product marketing) tells you that you need to highlight your unique benefits. There’s even a handy acronym, USP (Unique Selling Proposition), that experienced marketers claim is the obvious first step in developing your consulting firm’s message.
As a result, everyone’s trying to be unique.
Being unique is not unique. Being the same is unique. (Sorta.)
Fortunately, in the consulting industry, our clients actively don’t want us to be unique.
What clients want is the most reliable, credible solution to their problem.
Even when a prospective client asks, “What makes your consulting firm unique?” they want to hear that you’re not unique.
If you claim, “We’re the only consultants from Mars and we we blow exploding colored bubbles out our noses!” they’ll respond, “Whoa, dude that’s crazy. Totally unique. I’ll never hire you.”
If you say, “There’s nothing unique. We’re really boring. All we do is solve your particular problem and we solve it really well for clients just like you.” They’ll react with, “Wow. Boring and competent. You’re hired.”
Focus on quality.
Focus on credibility.
Focus on results.
Those are what interest clients.
Leave different behind.
Ignore the competition. Even if your consulting firm specializes in a mature, well-established solution—say, Lean Six Sigma, when you become a truly excellent practitioner you’ll win clients. Particularly, if you narrow the range of clients your consulting firm serves.
There’s plenty of demand for well-established, proven solutions to common problems.
And a funny thing happens on the way to becoming credible and reliable.
As your consulting firm develops its chops by learning and practicing fundamental and advanced techniques, and by emulating excellent consulting firms in your field, you’ll naturally develop your own points of view.
You’ll become a sought-after consulting firm with thought leadership borne of deep experience and masterful skills.
Your consulting firm’s voice will emerge and it will be uniquely yours. Not because your firm is trying to be unique or trying to stand out. Because, without worrying one whit about your uniqueness, you’ve put in the time to become excellent and to create outstanding results for your clients.
And that’s what most clients are seeking.
Leave uniqueness behind. Ditch differentiation. Forget flagging your consulting firm as one-of-a-kind. Consulting isn’t about you anyway—it’s about your clients. Simply become a demonstrably outstanding practitioner of your craft.
I’m curious: what makes your consulting practice a reliable, credible resource?
Text and images are © 2023 David A. Fields, all rights reserved.