Like many services businesses, the legal industry faces interesting challenges today. Many corporate clients have shifted work in-house and changes in commerce demand new practice areas. These changes pose a strategic challenge for big and small legal firms alike. What does a new revenue and service model look like? And what kind of talent should be attracted and retained? These questions are integral to revamping a business strategy but it all starts with knowing the client.
At a recent engagement, a senior partner at a mid-sized legal firm asked how they should think about prospective clients. This company earned its strong reputation by serving mid-sized companies and has done a remarkable job of growing its client base. Over the years, these mid-sized clients have grown in size, stretching this legal firm into the big leagues. So the partner asked: Where should we focus our client pipeline? Should we stick to mid-sized businesses or evolve into serving large companies?
Our answer might surprise some.
We said it should not be an either/or decision. It should be both. And it is a good idea to reframe the opportunity. First, define the profile of an ideal client. For a B2B business such as this legal firm, this would be a description of a client company that allows this firm to accent their specific strengths. Second, define the immediate periphery of clients that might also need these strengths. Together this becomes their target market.
If defined well, the ideal client will likely be too small of a business opportunity. That is why we explore the immediate periphery of potential clients, expanding the opportunity. Defining a target market as both the ideal client and its immediate periphery allows a company to play to its strengths and have courage to walk away from clients who could be better served elsewhere. When you pick your customers well, the likelihood of success increases.
So why have an ideal client in mind? Visualizing that ideal client keeps everyone’s eye on the ball. From the CEO, to the CFO, to the HRO, to the junior associate burning the midnight oil, everyone is on common ground. Defining an ideal client gives the team a concrete and relatable guide rail to what your values are, what your culture is, what your competencies are, and how to invest for the future.
@smunthree | The Union Marketing Group | www.theunionmarketing.com
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