The work to improve firm-wide operations and augment book of business continues at Klein, Rowe, & Co (KRC). Partners realize that to get their struggling practice back on track, as well as press on during an era of economic uncertainty, it will take a thorough and honest firm-wide evaluation to identify key issues.
Join Klein, Rowe & Co, our fictional case study firm, as they learn from our Automating Success webinar series. In each webinar, our thought leaders will share their expertise on how this firm might address those challenges. In each KRC follow-up, we'll share with you what our fictional firm has learned and the next steps they might take to reimagine their firm. Please note: our fictional case study and follow-up articles are fictional and intended for entertainment and educational purposes only.
In this week’s Automating Success webinar, “Building a rock star business development plan,” KRC partners specifically tuned in to advice on building strategic alliances and enhancing brand presence. Despite bringing in volumes of business over the years, many clients were not a good fit, requiring a more strategic approach to business development. Overall, the partners realized that they had lost focus on two foundational business model elements: building strategic alliances and a brand that would attract their ideal clientele.
KRC has long been a proponent of the niche client model. Yet, over time, they did not put in the work to maintain a position of leadership in order to develop a long-term, sustainable client base.
What KRC learned…
To continue their journey to recovery, KRC partners are dedicated to tackling two more core challenges within their firm: 1) Building strategic alliances within their vertical markets and
2) Enhancing brand presence.
Building strategic alliances has never been a component of KRC’s business model. Instead, new business was generated via sporadic marketing initiatives or word-of-mouth referrals. While this served KRC well for a while, the firm eventually hit a major bump—clients were leaving. Though client departures were the result of other firm challenges, such as staff turnover, under-trained employees and pandemic aftermath, the fact remained that KRC’s vertical strategy was weak.
After conducting a thorough evaluation, both partners admitted: “We don’t have much of a marketing strategy. Previous marketing efforts have been minimal and infrequent. We also hired a marketing specialist with little experience and provided her with little to no training. We need a larger-scale, longer-term strategy that includes building alliances within our choice vertical markets.”
The partners now realize that they have to dive deeper into the industries they serve. They have to play the long game—building relationships and alliances that will place them in the vanguard of their client verticals. To do this, they understand the need to join and be active in industry associations and develop relationships with complimentary business partners and centers of influence.
Brand presence is another fundamental business model element that requires commitment, especially for firms that adhere to a niche approach. Successful vertical-focused firms are viewed as leaders within the niches they serve. They are perceived as the authority—equipped with the expertise and deep industry knowledge required to solve clients’ unique pain points. Build the brand…and the vertical clients will come.
“We took our eye off the ball in terms of our brand,” KRC partners said. “We were so focused on bringing in any new clients that we failed to establish ourselves as leaders—the unparalleled experts within our niche markets. Our brand took a big hit as a result.”
KRC partners agree that these issues must be fixed immediately. That they have to put in the time and take necessary action to build back their book of business via strategic alliances and a strong brand.
KRC action items…
Continuing down the path of recovery, KRC partners developed a list of key action items to fuel their firm-wide improvement plan.
Building strategic alliances task list:
Research industry associations that support the firm’s chosen verticals.
Join at least one or two associations in the current year. Network to identify speaking opportunities.
Research vertical publications and work to get education-driven articles published.
Develop a referral plan program with current vertical clients and other centers of influence.
Identify complimentary business partners for cross marketing and referrals.
Develop a plan for firm-wide, life-long vertical education.
Brand presence task list:
Conduct an all-staff survey to collect feedback on the perceived strength of the firm’s brand. Use feedback from staff to plan strategic brand improvements.
Evaluate all brand touch points, including website, social channels, collateral (marketing, sales and education-based), trade show materials and more to ensure clear, consistent messaging. Messaging should highlight KRC as an expert in chosen vertical markets.
Develop a website improvement plan. This will include updating messaging for niche markets, visual enhancements and the addition of educational videos.
Develop a social media plan to ensure consistent, frequent and niche-specific messaging on all social channels. Instruct all staff to be stewards of the firm’s social channels and participate in online discussions.
Identify a marketing and social media expert in-house to manage all initiatives long-term. Determine if an outside hire is necessary.
Check back regularly to learn how KRC is progressing. In the meantime, feel free to use any of the ideas listed above to help advance your firm to rock star status.