There’s an interesting truth in consulting & professional services (aka – expert services) that I think is worth remembering: The Law of Specificity.  Specificity sells.  Generalities don’t.

I’ve noticed that many firms market themselves as real-world, problem solvers.  Management consultants are particularly guilty of this. They provide solutions to complex business problems.  This sounds like a reasonable approach.  The problem is…it doesn’t work very well because it is contrary to how clients actually buy.

The issue with this approach is that clients don’t have generic problems….they have specific problems.  At least from their point of view. Their problems are specific to their unique situation – industry, function, geography, growth phase, etc.  

When clients have problems, they are NOT looking for general solutions.  They are looking for solutions specific to their unique problem.  And, when they look to hire someone to help them solve their problem, they are searching for an expert.  Someone who has a long track record of helping others with similar problems. And, it’s hard to position yourself as an expert if you market yourself as a generalist.  By definition, an expert has specific, focused expertise.

Focus is hard for many of us to wrap our minds around. I was guilty of this for longer than I’d care to admit. The reason is because we often have vast experience and we can solve lots of different types of problems. Unfortunately, when we position ourselves as generic problem solvers the market perceives us as jack-of-all-trades….master of none.

When you market your services, remember the Law of Specificity.  Are you promoting your firm as generic problem solvers? If so, then you’re the focal point of your story.  You’re telling your story, not the client’s. Try this instead, make your client the focus of your marketing.  Make your client’s specific problem the focus of your expert service.  When you do, you’ll position yourself as an expert that solves a specific problem. In doing so, you’ll enhance your likelihood of being on the client’s short list.

My co-author, Tom McMakin, and I discuss this truth in greater detail in Chapter 10 of our new book, How Clients Buy.  It’s a lesson worth remembering as we promote ourselves to those we most wish to serve.