Sweet Spot Firm
The Sweet Spot Firm is a special solution designed for professional services firms that want to meet certain criteria that can be defined as a sweet spot in the marketplace.
It's about becoming the kind of firm that commands a price premium. Being choosy about the kind of work you do. The kind of clients you want to work with. Attracting better-fit talent. Having enough work yet enough time to recharge. Making enough money to invest in bulding a better practice.
Sweet-spot firms have better utilization rates, higher per employee earnings, higher profit margins, fuller lead gen pipeline, win more business and have a differentiated business strategy.
About the Sweet Spot Firm solution
This is a program for professional services firms that want to create a future characterized by the following traits.
A comfortable size of the firm: enough clients, enough work, enough money.
Predictable workload without crazy rollercoasters. Steady upward pace.
More challenging, interesting, valuable, engaging kind of work.
Better paying clients.
Growing authority and expertise.
Ability to say no to clients you don’t want to work with.
This marketing program will be built around something that people at your firm have no shortage of — competence. The bad news (for your firm) is that most of your competitors are in fact as competent as you are. The good news — a huge chunk of them (50-70%) aren’t positioned well-enough, are undifferentiated and aren’t disciplined about their marketing. On top of that — the quality of their own business decisions gets in their way.
This means they can’t command a price premium, can’t hire better talent, close less business, are stuck with bad clients, and can’t invest in own professional growth. Thus can’t become more competent faster which affects profitability and eventually their sustainability.
This framework allows us to conduct a rigorous assessment of your firm, and provide you with candid recommendations. Even though you will find that your challenges aren’t unheard of, the composition of individual issues will likely be unique. This will require a customized approach to your situation.
Twenty per cent of professional services firms worldwide can be characterized as sweet-spot firms. If they can do it, your firm can find its sweet spot too.
Constituent elements of the SSF framework and the Process
Prior to moving forward we’ll have a brief conversation over the phone about what it is that you’re looking for for your firm. We’ll assess if there is a fit between what we do and what you want, and whether or not it makes sense to move forward.
To schedule a call please use one of the contact forms on this website.
We will issue an invoice for 2,000 USD payable upfront. We will schedule a 1-2hr diagnostics call typically within one week upon receipt of payment.
During this call we will ask you multiple questions to better understand your situation. There are no right or wrong answers so there is no need to prepare in advance.
The more unprepared you are the better as it usually reveals what otherwise might’ve been attempted to be disguised. The more candid you are about the state of affairs at your firm the better our assessment of the situation.
If after this paid diagnostics session either of us decide not to move forward for whatever reason, we will refund you this fee in full. Typically within 2 business weeks.
Providing we have mutually agreed to go ahead we will spend some time (usually a week) to analyze your answers and come up with proposed solution(-s).
If the diagnostics reveals the Sweet Spot Firm is the best way to move forward, we will proceed. If we come to a conclusion that some other solution works best for your firm at this point in time, we will suggest that.
Level of engagement
Based on the findings of the diagnostics we will communicate over email to agree on the level of our engagement. The scope of our work in the SSF package is a most common one but some modules might have to be removed, and alterations are possible. This has an effect on the final price.Step 4
To formalize things we will send you the paperwork: a contract to sign and return, a NDA signed on our part to protect your confidential information. We will then send you a list of materials you’ll need to prepare (e.g. list of employees, roles, revenue, number of clients, gross/net profits, etc.). All of the information requested is vital for clear assessment and future recommendations.
Once you sign and return the contract we will send you the second invoice for 18,000 USD. Full prepayment. Non-refundable.
Number of workshops
We will conduct workshops (typically 4 in total) via Zoom (or similar). One workshop per week. All workshops are recorded for future reference. Some workshops consist of two modules, ~ 3 hours each. On average a typical workshop runs for 6 hours with a few breaks in between work.
It usually takes 4 weeks to go through all workshops. Sometimes we have to get back to one or several of the modules and rerun them partially due to newly uncovered (or previously missing) piece of data or information.
On some occasions we might have to conduct live workshops for several days in a row. In such cases this requires allocation of additional funds for our engagement including travel expenses. Such situations are discussed and agreed upon separately.
Who should participate
We expect principals (owners, founders, presidents) and key executives from marketing, sales, business development and heads of individual service departments to be present at all times.
The exact number of people will be agreed upon during Part I of our engagement.
Most of the workshops have homework that has a due date — typically two days prior to the next workshop. It usually takes an hour to complete homework assignments.
Some of the assignments are instrumental to upcoming modules. If the homework isn’t submitted on time by all participants, we’d have to postpone commencement of the following steps.
Constituent modules of the SSF solution
The Sweet Spot Firm package consist of the following modules:
- Target Market — a closer look at your clients.
- Competitive landscape — an overview of your competition.
- Core MVVP — discovering and formulating mission, vision, values and purpose of your firm.
- Positioning — what business you’re in / should be.
- Differentiation — how you can stand out from bland commodities.
- Service offerings — designing and repackaging your capabilities.
- Lead gen — a system for getting more leads and better-qualified clients.
- Messaging — fundamental messages for compelling marketing comms.
After the last module we will require 2 weeks to digest the data and produce concise, to-the-point recommendations.
Formal written reports are typically 60 pages long and are outside of the main scope of our engagements. Price starts at 2,000 USD and up for such reports.
We don’t recommend including an executive summary into the scope if the intention is to skim through the report, and put it on a dusty shelf.
Implementation of the marketing plan
At this point you will have a solid positioning, a compelling differentiation, a lead generation plan, client qualification system and actionable review of your website’s content. The next logical step is to start implementing digital marketing tactics to fill the lead gen pipeline.
So after approximately 4 weeks of business strategy we will engage in the final stage of the SSF solution.
Your team will come up with compelling taglines for your online ads. At this point you will have a landing page (-s) and A/B test PPC ads ready. We will review them and make suggestions where necessary.
You will have a list of prospects and marketing messages ready. We will review that and you’ll be ready to start reaching out via email, mail or overnight delivery.
During the Lead Gen module we will finalize the list of high impact activities that you should be focusing on. We will once again review those, make any necessary adjustments and you’ll commit resources to these activities.
Final steps of this engagement
We will check in with you on your progress twice during the next six months. We will answer your questions and make further recommendations for adjustments where necessary. Such check-in happens via email correspondence or brief phone calls.
Beyond this your key people will be getting insights via email from us if they sign up on this website. We will anounce about upcoming seminars, new tools and calculators as well as deliver fresh articles on the subject of marketing for professional services firms.
Indicators in favor of the SSF program
The SSF program is the perfect solution for your firm if half of these indicators checks out.
- Your revenue per each full-time employee (FTE) is below the market average of $165k per annum in the US (adjustable for your regional markets).
- You have one large client account that represents more than 25% of all of your business.
- Achievement of annual gross profit margin and revenue targets is below 90%.
- Your team deems more than 20% of all existing accounts as bad-fit clients.
- Your utilization rate (taking all FTEs into account) is less than 50% or higher than 80%.
- You win less than 55% of project / opportunity bids.
- Referrals and word of mouth are the source of the bulk of your new business.
- Your gross profit margin is < 37% and net profit is < 14%.
- You keep using PPC ads year over year to stay busy rather than grow or get better-qualified clients.
- Principals wholeheartedly believe the purpose of your firm is to make money.
- When asked casually about your firm’s mission and vision for the future your employees make confusing, vague or contradictory statements.
- When asked about what sets your firm apart most of your people will say: we work harder, we think strategically, we have our clients’ best interest at heart, we dive really deep into clients’ problems, we are very creative problem-solvers.
Questions & answers ▾▾▾
The nature of our work requires full confidentiality. We expect you wouldn’t be happy if we were to discuss your firm’s challenges, business strategy and metrics with anyone else.
You are welcome to browse through this website and form an opinion about whether or not we are competent enough and trustworthy enough to work with you.
From multiple sources such as our work with clients, other experts’ insights, marketing theory, research data, published company reports, etc. We cross-reference these sources, analyze data, and put information under scrutiny.
The total scope of the project and overall investment might turn out to be less. But this revelation comes after paid diagnostics. We advise you to make sure you have the full amount prior to our engagement.
The prices are non-negotiable. The overall value always exceeds your investment.
We don’t provide such lists. We solve problems for our clients. And often we have to pivot our approach on the fly. Either you trust in our ability to deliver or you don’t.
After all — if you want the magic to happen you have to believe in magic.
We will analyze your current branding and website to assess whether they are OK for the size of your firm, your position in the marketplace, compared to your competition. It has to be done.
Focus on a very narrow niche. Solve a problem differently but very well. Don’t aim at growing the size of the firm but rather at its profitability. Come back to us when you have resources and a firm commitment to becoming the go-to expert in your category.
The one thing that has a signifficant impact on your performance is the level of committment to the marketing plan as well as your discipline. Your firm will make a promise and will have to show up with no excuses.
Typically it’s a 2-3 month engagement. Sometimes it is less, sometimes it’s more than that. Afterwards we check in twice in the next six months as part of the engagement.
We give priority to clients who choose to implement our existing packaged solutions. Individual modules come in pairs with a minimum engagement of six modules. You might have to wait for a free spot for a few weeks in between individuals modules should you choose that option.
Occasionally there might be a limited time deal on an individual module for our existing clients who we’ve already worked with. This enables us to skip discovery and full-scale diagnostics sessions.
Once you begin to implement your marketing plan, you should expect to see positive results within 12-18 months. But there are positive effects right after/during our engagement as well.
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