When you are marketing or developing new business opportunities, you want to play to your strengths. A small firm is very flexible and can be responsive. When I first got started, I liked to make the case to the potential client that they could have a more personalized experience and work directly with me, the architect and proprietor. I knew that larger firms had organizational structure and that the client would not get to personally select their team.
This strategy worked well, but as our firm grew I found that it was no longer possible to have such an intimate relationship with each client personally. I had to build a team that I could trust, with processes in place that ensured a consistent level of service. This made me start to look like the bigger firms and my value proposition had flipped. Now we explain to our clients that they should work with us because we have capacity to get the work done in a timely fashion, with more staff to accomplish the work. We also have more expertise available and our multi-disciplinary approach allows us to integrate projects to a greater extent than our competitors.
Both approaches are valid and appeal to different audiences. Some of our early clients who remained smaller regretted the lack of personal collaboration with the sole-proprietor architect. They eventually found other early stage firms to work with. Of course, new clients materialized that appreciated the new format.
What is the bottom line? It is best to clearly define your value proposition. Explain how you are different. This will help you attract the most appropriate client for you at whatever stage you are in. And in my experience, firms want to work with other firms that have a similar organizational structure. If you want to work with IBM, you need to be a large corporate firm with layers of management. If you want to work with Joe Tailgate, the kitchen table may be best. Seek out clients who look the most like you do, and you will be successful.
More to come soon. If you want to get in touch please let me know! Thanks for reading!