What’s Next?
September 11, 2012 | The Whetstone Group

Perhaps one of the most telling characteristics of a successful business owner is the “what’s next” attitude. The understanding that you can’t just sit back and enjoy the spurt of growth you happen to be experiencing right now; the knowledge that unless you’re always moving forward, you’ll soon be moving backward.

So how to move forward? Well certainly one important step is understanding how your clients’ needs are changing and figuring out what you can do to help them. Developing the right services and knowing how to take them to the market is a challenge many firms struggle with; consider the following concrete action steps to make this challenge a little less daunting.

First step forward — needs

You have a great source of information to help you figure out what the market needs: your clients. And it costs nothing. Get together with a few of your clients and ask them some questions about what challenges they’re facing, how their business is being affected, what obstacles they’re running into in dealing with the challenges, what kind of help they need, what they’re willing to invest in help, etc.

Add to the information you get from your clients by doing secondary research: use web sites, industry publications and conferences, social media and even your competitors to figure out what people are talking about and struggling with.

 

Next steps — evaluate, prioritize, focus

If more than one new service idea bubbles up from your research, you need a systematic process to narrow the list and decide which to pursue. Factors like the level of demand within your current clients, your ability to hire the expertise you need vs. having to acquire it through a merger or strategic partnership, how easy or difficult it will be to differentiate your offering from competitors, and the long-term revenue potential all should be considered.

 

You’re almost there — define the service

Before you’re ready to launch a new service, help ensure your success by defining the scope of the service very specifically:

  • the process you’ll use to deliver it
  • the timing for the client, the frequency of delivery
  • the “package” you’re delivering, including the name of the service
  • key deliverables and benefits to the client,
  • pricing.

Train your staff on these elements so all know how to talk about the service in a consistent manner and those delivering the service will do so with consistent quality.

 

Your launch to the future — taking the service to market

Consider beta testing the service with one or two good clients to refine your scope and develop marketing messages. When you’re ready to go to market, define the target market, develop the key messages — benefits, differentiation — create materials you need, including a testimonial from your beta test, and then get your messages to the target market. Conversations with clients, direct marketing campaigns, seminars, webinars — there are a variety of ways to do this. Finally, measure your results to make sure you’re reaching your sales goals and getting a positive return on your investment.

If you’d like more detail on any of these ideas, take a look at our article on this topic: Your Future Firm Starts Now: Success Strategies for Launching New Services. And, if you’re interested, call us at 319-447-6400 or email info@thewhetstonegroup.com to ask for our free New Service Evaluation Checklist.

We hope it will help you answer the question “What’s Next?” and keep your firm moving forward.