You are previewing Positioning for Professionals: How Professional Knowledge Firms Can Differentiate Their Way to Success.
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Positioning for Professionals: How Professional Knowledge Firms Can Differentiate Their Way to Success

Book Description

It's not the best companies that prevail in the marketplace, but rather the best brands. The goal of business strategy is not just to be better, but different. Learn how to build a differentiating value proposition by clearly and carefully defining your brand boundaries: Calling, Competencies, Customers, and Culture.

Positioning for Professionals shows how a well-defined value proposition can help professional service firms create their own success instead of copying the success of others, including such concepts as:

  • How and why professional service brands become homogenized

  • Why standing for everything is the same as standing for nothing

  • Why there's no such thing as full service

  • Deep and narrow as a strategic imperative

  • Why it's better to be a profit leader than a market leader

  • Differentiation and price premiums

  • How to map your brand on the matrix of relevance and differentiation

  • How to define a value proposition that will make your firm intensely appealing to the customers who want you for what you do best

Based on the proven premise that the most profitable business strategy is not to aim at the center of the market, but rather at the edges, Positioning for Professionals is written for leaders, managers, and other senior executives of service companies in with a particular emphasis on professional service firms. (edited by author)

Table of Contents

  1. Copyright
  2. Introduction
    1. NO SUCH THING AS A COMMODITY
    2. THE URGE TO COPY
    3. THE BEST AND ALL THE REST
    4. ALIGNMENT IS EVERYTHING
    5. POSITIONING IS NOT COMMON SENSE
      1. Greater Earning Power
      2. Larger Geographical Market Area
      3. Fewer Competitors
      4. More Respect from Clients
      5. More Sophisticated Clients
    6. A BRAND DEVELOPMENT GUIDE FOR PROFESSIONAL FIRMS
    7. YOUR FIRM'S VALUE PROPOSITION
    8. THE TRUTH OF YOUR BRAND
    9. NOT SERVICE, BUT KNOWLEDGE
  3. 1. Size Is Not a Strategy
    1. 1.1. MAINTAINING PRICING INTEGRITY
    2. 1.2. BETTER TO BE A PROFIT LEADER THAN A MARKET LEADER
    3. 1.3. WHY BIGNESS DOESN'T LEAD TO GREATNESS
    4. 1.4. HIRED TO BE EFFECTIVE, NOT EFFICIENT
  4. 2. How and Why Brands Become Homogenized
    1. 2.1. THE URGE TO COPY
    2. 2.2. THE FOLLY OF ALL-IN-ONE
    3. 2.3. LINE EXTENSION IS NOT BRANDING
    4. 2.4. THERE'S NO SUCH THING AS FULL SERVICE
    5. 2.5. THE NATURAL FEAR OF FOCUS
  5. 3. The Mature Company's Identity Crisis
    1. 3.1. DIFFERENTIATION AND PRICE PREMIUMS
    2. 3.2. COLUMBUS, NOT NAPOLEON
    3. 3.3. THE DIFFUSION OF IDENTITY
    4. 3.4. LANDING IN NO-MAN'S LAND
    5. 3.5. STRATEGY AT THE EDGES
      1. 3.5.1. Margin in Mystery
    6. 3.6. NOT BEST PRACTICES, BUT NEXT PRACTICES
  6. 4. Expanding Your Business By Narrowing Your Focus
    1. 4.1. THERE'S NO SUCH THING AS A GENERAL MARKET
    2. 4.2. VERTICAL SUCCESS VERSUS HORIZONTAL SUCCESS
    3. 4.3. THE STRATEGIC VALUE OF GOING DEEP
  7. 5. Positioning as the Centerpiece of Business Strategy
    1. 5.1. WHAT ARE YOU REALLY SELLING?
    2. 5.2. BECOMING HARD TO IMITATE
    3. 5.3. TWO CRITICAL DIMENSIONS OF AN EFFECTIVE VALUE PROPOSITION
    4. 5.4. A CATEGORY OF ONE
    5. 5.5. A BRAND IS THE CUSTOMER'S IDEA OF THE PRODUCT
    6. 5.6. NATURAL OUTCOMES OF A POWERFUL VALUE PROPOSITION
  8. 6. Building Brand Boundaries
    1. 6.1. BRAND BOUNDARY 1: CALLING
      1. 6.1.1. Not Just What You Are, But Why
      2. 6.1.2. Knowledge Workers Are Volunteers
      3. 6.1.3. Reaching for the Stars
      4. 6.1.4. Your Real Motivation
      5. 6.1.5. Discovering Your Calling
      6. 6.1.6. How to Know You've Succeeded in Defining Your Calling
    2. 6.2. BRAND BOUNDARY 2: CUSTOMERS
      1. 6.2.1. One Size Fits None
      2. 6.2.2. Who Do You Know Best?
      3. 6.2.3. Defining Your Positioning Strategy by the Type of Clients You Serve
    3. 6.3. BRAND BOUNDARY 3: COMPETENCIES
      1. 6.3.1. Getting to What's Core
      2. 6.3.2. Doing What You Love
      3. 6.3.3. Focusing on a Core Competency
    4. 6.4. BRAND BOUNDARY 4: CULTURE
      1. 6.4.1. Strong Principles Create a Strong Culture
        1. 6.4.1.1. Is it Memorable?
        2. 6.4.1.2. Is it Differentiating?
        3. 6.4.1.3. Can You Argue Its Opposite?
        4. 6.4.1.4. Will You Sacrifice For It?
      2. 6.4.2. Controversial Cultures
    5. 6.5. THE CONFLUENCE OF CALLING, CUSTOMERS, COMPETENCIES, AND CULTURE
  9. 7. Validating Your Value Proposition
    1. 7.1. BE ROOTED IN THE FUTURE, NOT THE PAST
    2. 7.2. THE VALUE PROPOSITION TEAM
      1. 7.2.1. Individual Minds, Not Hivemind
      2. 7.2.2. An Hourglass Approach
    3. 7.3. ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTIONS
      1. 7.3.1. The Story of Your Brand
  10. 8. Without Execution, There Is No Strategy
    1. 8.1. SERVICES
      1. 8.1.1. New or Special Capabilities
      2. 8.1.2. Outmoded Services
      3. 8.1.3. Business Partnerships
      4. 8.1.4. Proprietary Approaches
      5. 8.1.5. High-Value Offerings
      6. 8.1.6. Intellectual Capital
      7. 8.1.7. Information Resources
      8. 8.1.8. Client Selection
      9. 8.1.9. Accountability
      10. 8.1.10. What Is Core?
      11. 8.1.11. The Hollywood Model
    2. 8.2. STAFFING
      1. 8.2.1. Roles and Responsibilities
      2. 8.2.2. Internal Communication
      3. 8.2.3. Hiring Standards
      4. 8.2.4. Feedback and Recognition
      5. 8.2.5. Professional Development
      6. 8.2.6. New Associate Orientation
      7. 8.2.7. Performance Planning and Career Development
      8. 8.2.8. Internal Communication and Collaboration
      9. 8.2.9. Aligning People with Positioning
      10. 8.2.10. Paying for Contributions Instead of Hours
      11. 8.2.11. Management Approach as a Differentiator
    3. 8.3. SELF-PROMOTION
      1. 8.3.1. Brand Identity
      2. 8.3.2. Website
      3. 8.3.3. Online Marketing and Social Networking
      4. 8.3.4. Directories
      5. 8.3.5. Business Development Approach
      6. 8.3.6. Publicity
      7. 8.3.7. Industry Recognition
      8. 8.3.8. Unconventional Marketing Approaches
      9. 8.3.9. How a Clear Positioning Strategy Helps You Move from "Push" to "Pull"
      10. 8.3.10. Creating an Unlevel Playing Field
      11. 8.3.11. A Multidimensional Marketing Approach
    4. 8.4. SYSTEMS
      1. 8.4.1. Resource Allocation
      2. 8.4.2. Pricing Practices
      3. 8.4.3. Processes
      4. 8.4.4. Project Management
      5. 8.4.5. Scope Management
      6. 8.4.6. Quality Control
      7. 8.4.7. Intellectual Property
      8. 8.4.8. Knowledge Bases
      9. 8.4.9. Policies
      10. 8.4.10. Process Is Just as Important for Knowledge Workers
      11. 8.4.11. Intellectual Property Ownership
    5. 8.5. STAGING
      1. 8.5.1. First Impressions
      2. 8.5.2. Offices
      3. 8.5.3. Working Environment
      4. 8.5.4. Tools and Resources
      5. 8.5.5. Technology
      6. 8.5.6. Digital Asset Management
      7. 8.5.7. Virtual Office
      8. 8.5.8. Brand Touch Points
      9. 8.5.9. The Virtual Associate
      10. 8.5.10. The Senses and Your Firm's Brand
        1. 8.5.10.1. See: Iconography, shapes, colors, images, office d├ęcor
        2. 8.5.10.2. Feel: Shapes, texture, depth, space
        3. 8.5.10.3. Hear: Music, rhythm, sound, recorded messages
        4. 8.5.10.4. Smell: Aromas, olfactory sensations
    6. 8.6. EXECUTING A POSITIONING STRATEGY WITH ALIGNMENT TEAMS
      1. 8.6.1. The Team Agreement
      2. 8.6.2. Prioritizing the Initiatives
      3. 8.6.3. Weatherproof Your Strategy
    7. 8.7. REBUILDING YOUR SHIP WHILE AT SEA
  11. 9. Getting Paid for Creating Value
    1. 9.1. THE PERILS OF COST-BASED COMPENSATION
      1. 9.1.1. What's an Hour Worth?
      2. 9.1.2. Estimating Costs Is Not Pricing
    2. 9.2. CHANGING THE LANGUAGE
    3. 9.3. PRICING AS A CORE COMPETENCY
    4. 9.4. WHY A VALUE-BASED APPROACH IS IN THE CLIENT'S BEST INTEREST
    5. 9.5. THE ALIGNMENT OF INCENTIVES
    6. 9.6. Creating a Virtuous Circle
  12. 10. A New and Better Way to Price Professional Services
    1. 10.1. FORMS OF VALUE-BASED PRICING
      1. 10.1.1. Straight Fee
      2. 10.1.2. Usage Fee
      3. 10.1.3. Results Fee
    2. 10.2. THE RIGHT CLIENTS FOR OUTCOME-BASED AGREEMENTS
    3. 10.3. THE TRUE MEANING OF PARTNERSHIP
      1. 10.3.1. Self-Confidence and Self-Worth
    4. 10.4. UNCOVERING MISSED OPPORTUNITIES TO MAKE PRICING A CORE COMPETENCY
    5. 10.5. KEY QUESTIONS IN SETTING A VALUE-BASED PRICE
    6. 10.6. IF COMPLEX GLOBAL COMPANIES CAN DO IT, SO CAN YOU
    7. 10.7. BETTER TIME TRACKING IS NOT THE ANSWER
      1. 10.7.1. A Test: Life Without Timesheets
    8. 10.8. THINKING OF COMPENSATION PLANS AS A STOCK PORTFOLIO
    9. 10.9. SETTING THE STAGE FOR A VALUE-BASED APPROACH TO COMPENSATION
      1. 10.9.1. Appoint a Chief Value Officer
      2. 10.9.2. Start the Internal Dialogue
      3. 10.9.3. Understand How Your Clients Define Value
      4. 10.9.4. Identify Likely Value-Based Compensation Prospects
      5. 10.9.5. Prepare Hypothetical Scopes of Value
    10. 10.10. A DECLARATION OF VALUE
  13. A. The Before-and-After Survey
    1. A.1. RATED QUESTIONS
    2. A.2. OPEN-ENDED QUESTIONS
    3. A.3. TRACKING YOUR SUCCESS
  14. B. More Ways to Differentiate Your Brand
    1. B.1. SERVICES
    2. B.2. STAFFING
    3. B.3. SELF-PROMOTION
    4. B.4. SYSTEMS
    5. B.5. STAGING
  15. C. Indicators of the Firm's Success
    1. C.1. EXAMPLES OF LAGGING INDICATORS
    2. C.2. EXAMPLES OF LEADING INDICATORS
      1. C.2.1. Services
      2. C.2.2. Staffing
      3. C.2.3. Self-Promotion
      4. C.2.4. Systems
      5. C.2.5. Staging
  16. Notes
    1. C.3. INTRODUCTION
    2. C.4. Chapter 1: SIZE IS NOT A STRATEGY
    3. C.5. Chapter 2: HOW AND WHY BRANDS BECOME HOMOGENIZED
    4. C.6. Chapter 3: THE MATURE COMPANY'S IDENTITY CRISIS
    5. C.7. Chapter 4: EXPANDING YOUR BUSINESS BY NARROWING FOCUS
    6. C.8. Chapter 5: POSITIONING AS THE CENTERPIECE OF BUSINESS STRATEGY
    7. C.9. Chapter 6: BUILDING BRAND BOUNDARIES
    8. C.10. Chapter 7: VALIDATING YOUR VALUE PROPOSITION
    9. C.11. Chapter 8: WITHOUT EXECUTION, THERE IS NO STRATEGY
    10. C.12. Chapter 9: GETTING PAID FOR CREATING VALUE
    11. C.13. Chapter 10: A NEW AND BETTER WAY TO PRICE PROFESSIONAL SERVICES
    12. C.14. APPENDIX C: INDICATORS OF THE FIRM'S SUCCESS
  17. About the Author