Greetings from Big Bend, Texas. The RV is parked for the winter as another travel season (our 10th) has come to a close.
In case you missed last week: Why you should charge a price that scares you – and then add 20%. If pricing is difficult for you, this information will help you re-frame your clients’ problems and your conversations with them. Big takeaway: to get more business, don’t decrease your price … increase the experience you offer.
On to this week: Over the years, by design, most of our non-litigation valuation reports have come to look the same. (Showing my age, I am reminded of the theme song from The Patty Duke Show: They laugh alike, they walk alike | At times they even talk alike.) They meet spec. If they all meet spec, is it any wonder our pricing is collapsing.
And if you’re new here, welcome aboard. This is what we do!
Join me this Friday at 1pm ET on Practice Development INSIDER for my interview with Michael Gregory. As a practitioner, Michael entered “our” world in 2011 and built his authority in this space faster than anyone I know.
Regardless of the size firm you’re in, there’s bound to be a nugget or two here that you can use in your practice development efforts.
Your report checks all of the expected boxes.
You have just further commoditized your product.
I was reading This Is Marketing by Seth Godin (link below) and had an amazing revelation: almost all of our reports are prepared to some spec. As an example, think of what we deliver in tax purpose, ESOP, and fair value valuations. It’s pretty standardized stuff.
So if there is a general feeling amongst clients that, for these valuation purposes, all of our reports are going to look alike … are going to consider the same things … are going to say the same things … in short, are going to meet the same spec – then is it any wonder that we are being hit by fee compression. If we both meet spec, what is going to make my report stand out against yours? And so we compete on price.
From This Is Marketing:
When you’re the cheapest, you’re not promising change. You’re promising the same, but cheaper. The race to the bottom is tempting, because nothing is easier to sell than cheaper. It requires no new calculations or deep thinking on the part of your customer…. Low price is the last refuge of a [practitioner] who has run out of generous ideas.
From “This Is Mediocre,” a recent blog post by Seth (link below):
If you define a spec and work hard to meet it, you can make it so that most things are within a reasonable distance of that spec. Which means that most of what you make is average. If an entire industry is busy seeking to meet that average, we can define that work as mediocre. Not horrible, but certainly not exceptional (because ‘exception’ -al is self-explanatory).
[Note: I get that the considerations (blood), machinations (sweat), and calculations (tears) can vary in intensity from report to report. But if the client doesn’t know, understand, or care, then your report probably resembles a competitor’s.]
If you are old like me your current day report/template evolved from the “best of” other people’s reports. When I got started this is what we all did.
Now, of course, there are report libraries and report writing software we can draw on to extend and expand the comprehensiveness and languaging of our reports. But that practice had an unintended consequence – it made all of our reports look and sound the same, by design.
And we’ve been doing this for years.
Here’s a thought. If your practice area only requires a standardized report, add a consulting service to the process that stands out for its uniqueness/remarkability and is highly valued for its unexpectedness.
Or move into a practice area (like exit planning) where you have the freedom to design your own (standards-compliant) report that stands out for its uniqueness/remarkability and is highly valued for its usefulness.
Because fee compression isn’t going away.
In real life
Where is your chance to WOW the client?
If it is not the report, it has to be in the service … or the client experience.
Also, the price we charge is the engine for our practices’ growth. Because price creates margin, and margin is the money available to re-invest in our practices … from more and better resources for doing the work to more and better training for getting the work.
Reading that can help
This Is Marketing: You can’t be seen unless you learn to see by Seth Godin
“This is mediocre” by Seth Godin
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