Ugh, there it is again. That phrase. I was hoping it would die several years ago. Then it makes a comeback – in ads, internet postings, and other mediums. What is full-service?
Full-service, as defined by Merriam-Webster and Cambridge Dictionary is “providing comprehensive service of a particular kind.” and “used to describe a business that provides customers with a complete range of services.” Are you telling your prospective customers you are full-service? What does that mean to you? My take is that you provide everything in your general profession. So, if you’re a construction contractor, you build everything from the foundation to the roof. Why could this be a problem for your business?
It’s Probably Not True
Do you really provide everything…and do it well? Likely not. When I was working in public accounting, they said they were full-service. Did they provide SEC company audits? No. Did they provide business valuation services? Sometimes, but not in every office. Banks often say they’re full-service. However, a full-service bank for a small business may not be for a large international business. Full service is in the eye of the beholder so it’s unattainable. Admit you probably don’t provide everything because…
Your Ideal Customers Don’t Care
Does anyone say, “Yeah, I went to ABC Company because they do everything.” Or, “Once I saw they had a full page of services, I knew they were the company for me.” I don’t hear this much and you probably don’t seek out services for your business or family like this either. In fact, what is happening more often today is…
Your Ideal Customer is Seeking a Specialist
They want to know you have specialized expertise and can help them with their problem. They want to know you’ve solved similar problems for similar customers. They want to see you have experience, credentials, testimonials, tools, written materials, videos, and on and on—proof that you can help them.
OK, so here are some of your likely objections and my responses.
We Provide a Wide Range of Products and Services. Are You Suggesting We Kill Everything but One?
Maybe. Maybe not. I’m a big believer that niche providers are ruling the world and will continue to do so for some time. That said, there’s a difference between what you provide and how you market. You can still provide multiple services without having generic marketing.
When advertising your services or meeting prospective customers, do you lead with, “We are a full-service______?” That’s a dead-end conversation for your prospect. You just put them to sleep. Each ad or interaction should have a specific purpose intended to reach a specific customer. Going too broad confuses your audience and will have little chance of success. It also makes measuring your campaigns much more difficult.
If We Don’t Say We Provide Everything, We’ll Lose Customers
That’s fear talking. Fear of missing out on any customer that has a pulse. Fear that this customer will be the last. Fear that you will lose this customer to your “me too” full-service competitor. Fear cannot drive your business decisions or your chances of success drop significantly. There are products and services that you provide better than anyone else. You have expertise that no other business has. Highlight this, drill down to your ideal customer, and ditch your fear. And if none of this changes your mind…
Have You Noticed What Three of the Most Successful Do?
Apple, Google, and Amazon all have a narrow focus, even with billions in sales and profits. You could make a strong argument they are niche players in media, search, and distribution. Could it be they know something that modestly successful companies don’t? When it gets tough for small companies, many broaden their offerings. The ultra-successful often do the exact opposite—identify their core customers and go back to basics. Remember, these ultra-successful companies were all small once.
What Should You Do?
Chris Brogan, CEO of Owner Media Group, provided a great positioning list in his newsletter. Here it is:
- “Clear answer to what problem you solve.
- Explanation of how that happens.
- Easy next step after they agree you’re the one for them.
- A strong About page/copy that explains how you help them.
- A picture of you and your team.
- Deeper information if someone’s not yet sold.
- Tell the story of what you do and what you sell from their side.
- Two ways to contact you.”
What does your positioning look like? Could it be improved? I hope you agree that positioning as full-service is not positioning at all.
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Can I Help You?
Hi, I’m Josh Horn, CPA/ABV, CVA of Horn Valuation. I can help you with a business valuation in a friendly or unfriendly situation. I also help owners build valuable companies. My clients are business owners and attorneys. If you’d like more information, check out my website hornvaluation.com, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call me at 217-649-8794.
I’m a licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and double-credentialed in business valuation (CVA & ABV). I’ve been a tax and business consultant in a top 100 CPA firm and a controller in a large international company. I’ve also valued and been the primary advisor to multi-million dollar and small companies in various industries.
“Sacrificing everything building your company and leaving value to chance is nothing short of a tragedy.” Josh Horn, CPA, Certified Valuation Analyst and Accredited in Business Valuation