The other day, I posted on firms needing to distinguish themselves more effectively.
I feel the need to add this...
I'd like to emphasize that the claims of "actions" must be readily apparent in a brochure or website. If they aren't evident just by their nature (e.g. no charge for phone calls, no hourly billing, etc) then they must be substantiated somehow or another (testimonials, case studies, etc).
Let me express: service quality isn't going to be impressive enough as a differentiator. Most firms pay lip service to things like "responsive," "on time," or "proactive" in their brochures or on the web. These are basic expectations, folks. No one can argue that they should be the rule, not the exception! Just as competence is expected by a paying customer, so is good service.
In marketing, nearly every firm now claims the above traits (though few consistently deliver) so while doing these might actually make you different, claiming them doesn't at all differentiate you, rather it throws you right into the pack. And citing these as advantages of working with your firms just shows how low the bar is within the profession, doesn't it?
All this "timely, proactive" stuff just sounds like blah-blah-blah to the customer who has found that firms don't usually do a good job despite their claims. Great. Now we have false advertising. And on stuff that should be a gimme. But I digress.
Real distinction, in my mind, is stuff like:
Value pricing in advance (using fixed price agreements and change orders as necessary)
Specialization in an industry or a narrow area of practice whereby you become highly visible in the circles of your customers
Humanizing your people: some do it through unique bios/bio photos and others do it by featuring "a day in the life" of their people
Service packaging/bundling for instance offering a level of all-inclusive services such as the "concierge model" with no charging for phone calls or other access to you
Not tracking time (trash the timesheet) -- think how much law or accounting students are drawn to these firms!! It is undeniable.
There is a price to pay--an investment--in becoming distinct. Most firms won't DO these things because they aren't easy. And they are non-traditional. They are different. Innovative. Not safe.
But customers and recruits eat them up.
The results are worth the effort.