Differentiating a product is (usually) easy. Differentiating professional services is hard.
Take an IT services business for example. They have employees with X years of experience (so do their competitors). They have demonstrated client success stories and referenceable clients (so do their competitors). They have people with certifications in key technologies (so do…you get the idea).
And yet—each professional services business, in IT, digital marketing, accounting, or any other function, is unique. Not generically “better” than competitors, but a better choice for certain clients, under certain circumstances.
In discussing this recently with Dustin Bruzenak, four questions emerged which help professional services providers separate themselves from their competition:
- Can they do the hard jobs? Anyone can do the simple things. The best service providers are those that can tackle the challenging, messy, thorny projects. In app development, for example, this may involve building apps that not only run on both iOS and Android, but also support multiple communication protocols (for IoT applications), are secure (for regulated industries like healthcare), and interface with legacy enterprise systems (for industries like banking and finance).