I will admit to the fact that my daughter and I both love cupcakes. Up until recently, as far as our house was concerned, there was two categories of cupcakes – Crumbs (a local cupcake bakery) and everyone else. Nothing against the other local bakeries, from my experiences, they are all good, but that is how my daughter viewed the state of local cupcake bakeries. Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago. My daughter heard about a new local bakery named Baked By Melissa. Baked by Melissa offers bite sized cup cakes. After mentioning it to me, she kept asking me when we could try Baked by Melissa cupcakes. Shortly after, I was in New York and saw a Baked by Melissa store. I stopped in and bought a six pack of cupcakes. I took them home and my daughter loved them. We now have three categories of cupcakes – Crumbs – all the other copy cats – and now Baked by Melissa. Personally, I did not like the small size but by their differentiation (although an adult man might not be their target demographic). They did, however, get me to walk into to their store instead of walking the two blocks to Crumbs. None of the other copycats would have gotten me to stop or go out of my way for their cupcakes. Being different and having consistent branding and messaging highlighting this fact made Baked by Melissa noticeable and got them an opportunity.
So how does this translate to your accounting, legal, or professional service practice?
Recently I was with a long time client of mine, a financial advisor, who rents an office in a large law firm. I saw that the law firm was downsizing their office space. I asked what was happening – the old client told me that he has heard business for the law firm has been bad recently. I asked why. He answered that some of the older partners who were the rainmakers retired and no one else was effective at bringing in new business. After leaving the meeting I found myself hoping that the retirement of the partners was not based on ongoing cash flow, and that the partners had gracefully aged our of the practice of law. However, with attorneys, I know that is often not the case. I also found myself wondering if the patrners who built the firm through years of hard work might have been affected by the recent advancements in technology that have had a significant change in how law is practiced and marketed. The firm was a general practice firm. I feel like it all could have been avoided if they had invested in training, coaching, and supporting the younger partners. Perhaps they could have found a profitable niche of differentiation in their marketplace. Having a more narrowed focus and having consistent marketing and messaging promoting expertise in that niche provides marketable differentiation and longevity. So sad and so avoidable