I hope you were paying attention to the signals. Did you hear them?
Currently, I’m helping an owner carve out a narrow, distinct positioning for her studio. To inform our process, here is what I’ve observed:
Meet the Spectrum of Replaceability.
What I’ve observed: to the degree your clients perceive your creative firm – or your solutions – as readily available or easily replaceable, you are selling a commodity.
Notice that whether or not your firm is actually replaceable doesn’t much matter.Right there is where most owners get hung up.
So whenever a client gives you bad news as above, listen for the signals like “cost” or “price” or “efficient.” Then ask yourself, on the Spectrum of Replaceability, where does your firm reside? Where does the winning firm reside?
If you’re unsure of how to move further to the right on the Spectrum, here are a few suggestions:
To grow your business, shrink your positioning. Accentuate your differences. Forget about wide, go deep instead.
Raise your prices. Force yourself to be an expert firm. And increase your margins in the process, which is never a bad thing.
Diversify outside your bubble. Your market may be too mature (like advertising agencies) that are buying commodities… even if you aren’t selling them. Target markets / prospects / verticals that are a better fit. Stake your claim in the Wild West of direct-to-brand.
Lastly, when it comes to clients the old cliché is true: perception is reality.