Like most commercial organisations, design firms are in business to see improvements in sales and profits.
But how do design firms actually approach the task of exploring their options for strategic growth, and what are the typical options that can help them frame these considerations? As a starting point, there are perhaps four strategic options to explore:
Current services/expertise into current market sectors to attract more clients = Low Risk
Develop new services for current market sectors/clients
Expand current services/expertise into new market sectors
Develop new services into new market sectors = High Risk
Each option carries with it inherent risks and certain marketing implications. What is your appetite for risk? Which is right for your firm? Where do your objectives, services and expertise sit within these options? The best strategy may actually combine more than one of these options to suit different services or different areas of the business.
The least risk option is number 1. Find more clients for your existing services. Easier said than done, especially if you already have a significant market share in a current market. Although for most businesses there is usually scope to attract more of the same type of customers.
The option with most risk is number 4, going into new markets with a new service. This classic ‘diversification’ move may appear to offer great potential, but can be a recipe for disaster if you do not have an adequate understanding of market conditions or the competitive landscape.
It’s difficult for a business to move into a new market at the best of times. Establishing sales channels, generating demand, managing customer expectations, and pre-empting competitors actions can be a real challenge, requiring a substantial amount of resources.
Whichever route/s design firms decide to explore there are marketing decisions to be made. Sales processes, services, competitive positioning, promotional considerations and brand identity are a few of the things that will need to be reviewed.
Consideration must be given to how design firms manage the marketing-related impact of these changes to produce the best result.
– Adding value for customers
– Staff issues
– Business processes
– Measuring results and reviewing progress
– Knowing which marketing activities to implement, and the best time to do it.
Creating the necessary time and space in the business to thoroughly explore the options is the first step on this journey. Good luck!