6 Ways To Be A Radically Distinct Company In 2018


If you’re looking for a compelling way to differentiate your business so you can get ahead of your competitors, looking at data and trends across industries is an excellent place to start. We’ve compiled a list based on our research of the top 6 ways we think businesses can get out of the herd and ahead of the curve to win in 2018.

1. Adopt new technology

Few people would doubt that technology has disrupted and changed the way we work and do business forever. However, we now have evidence of the impact of those changes. Studies show that firms adopting technology are growing faster than those who are holding out. For example, a research study by Hinge Marketing shows that 42% of the fastest growing professional service firms are differentiating through their use of technology.  Of the “No-Growth” firms, 34% of them are differentiating by the history of their firm. The legacy strategy did not work for Blockbuster when they turned away an opportunity to acquire Netflix, and it’s not working for firms resisting new technology either. (Learn more about the tale of these two players in our blog: Marketing Design

Adopting new technology could be especially powerful in the real estate and construction industry where only 38% of employees in RE/C believe that their leaders have the vision necessary to lead their digital business efforts. If you’re one of the rare leaders in this industry with a vision for new tech adoption and your employees believe in your vision, then you are Radically Distinct and there is a huge space for you to own. Plus, only 11% of senior real estate leaders believe the industry is adequately prepared for CEO succession. The process of envisioning and preparing your firm for this change will make space for emerging leaders to step forward and make themselves known. (Source Deloitte Digital and Deloitte Center For Financial Services)

Tip: Adopting new technology can start by digitizing your marketing program. A digital marketing program design and plan is a fantastic editing tool for firms to figure out who their customers are, and how to better serve those customers by incorporating new technology into your business. Marketing is becoming more and more of an engineering operation. Make sure that what efforts you do to advance the technology of your organization connect and support the efforts being made to advance your marketing and vice versa. 

2. Capitalize On Culture

According to research by Gallup on The State Of The American Workplace, “employee engagement has barely budged over the past decade and a half. The majority of employees (51%) are not engaged and haven't been for quite some time.” They estimate that actively disengaged employees cost the U.S. $483 billion to $605 billion each year in lost productivity. Firms who can move the needle of engagement are ahead of the curve and poised for tremendous growth. Studies show that companies of engaged employees experience 41% reduction in absenteeism, 17% increase in productivity, 24% lower turnover, 40% reduction in quality defects, 70% decrease in employee safety incidents, 10% increase in customer metrics and a 20% increase in sales, and 21% greater profitability. Culture is clearly a key driver of business performance. 

Differentiating your culture is a smart strategy for attracting the right employees and leaders to your business, but it isn’t easy to do. Companies such as Valve, that are intentional about the culture they build are attracting the talent they need, have more engaged full-time employees, and are therefore more productive and profitable per employee for it. Want an example of how they differ to talent? Check out their new employee handbook.

We scoured through many websites to figure out whose messaging reflects a truly unique culture and our list in Seattle was surprisingly small. Having the words to describe how your culture is different is the first step to being able to build one. 

Tip: Employer brand is a relatively new concept developed to help business utilize marketing and branding tools for recruitment. Social media programs for professional service firms can and should be designed to enhance and support employer brand initiatives and sales initiatives equally. We’ve found that when individuals are included in the planning process of a social media program, they are more likely to participate in it. This is because engaging in social media can be scary and uncomfortable for a vast majority of people. Helping them work through their concerns and find ways to share themselves, gives them the confidence and courage to do so. This creates better results for the company from both sales and recruitment perspectives.

3. Embrace Change

Perhaps it’s not lack of vision, but instead, resistance to change that prevents organizations from experiencing continued growth. One of the key findings of Alman Weil’s 2016 Law Firms In Transition Study says that “the pace of external change being experienced by law firms is not expected to slow in the foreseeable future. The slower pace of internal change in many firms is attributable not to lack of awareness or will among firm leaders but to low awareness and high resistance among their partners.” In other words, the partners of law firms across the nation are holding back their companies by tuning out of the market conversation. If you’re in a mature firm and all partners are unified around the need and desire to change, you are the minority. That means you have an opportunity to get out front of your slow-moving competitors and win.

Tip: Firm leaders who want to bring about change in their organization need to think like politicians and build a team and campaign if you want to get your ideas heard and considered. Recruit a marketing consultant to help you build a platform to greatly outperform from a business perspective. Combined with an internal marketing plan to build alliances, this strategy will pay dividends to you and your business, and it will earn you influence within the firm as well.

4. Diversify Your Leadership Team

According to Peterson Institute of International Economics firms with 3+ women in the C-Suite are more profitable than firms with 2 or less. They surveyed 22,000 companies around the world in 2014 and concluded that companies with at least 30% women in executive seats earned a 15%  higher profit margin. 

Same goes for ethnic diversity. McKinsey reports that the companies with the most diversified leadership make-up were 35% more likely to surpass industry average returns. One easily identified reason for this increased profitability is the increase in marketing efficacy. Together, women and minorities make up the vast majority of the buying public. By having a more accurate representation of the market within the ranks of a companies’ leadership companies have greater insight into the lives, dreams, and concerns of their customers. Greater insight is the first step to creating more effective campaigns, more valuable products and services, and greater brand loyalty.

Tip: One easy way to diversify your leadership team is to start by hiring consultants that fill your diversity gaps. Most executives have a consultant or team of consultants that they’ve relied on in the past. Business today is not like business was a decade ago. Because of that, business leaders need consultants who can help them understand the new environment from an outside perspective. Diverse perspectives on your business from an external perspective will help you identify more diverse perspectives within your organization and how to best empower them to lead.

5. Leverage A Marketing Partnership

Partnership marketing is the #1 most impactful technique according to a research study by Hinge on the fastest growing firms. Famous marketing partnerships include Ford and Eddie Bauer partnering to compete in the luxury SUV and travel luggage markets. Hudson Yards in New York—largest private real estate development in the history of the US— is a shining example of a large-scale marketing partnership.

Tip: A managed approach to networking and business development is a great way to find like-minded leaders with similar marketing goals as your firm. Leveraging collective efforts reduces initial marketing spend and improves outreach capabilities at the same time. Radically Distinct runs multiple marketing partnership programs to support our clients, such as The REal Masterminds

6. Generate Leads Online

Hinge Marketing reviewed financial and operational data of 505 professional service firms in the US that generated $5-50M revenue over the last 3 years. Firms included legal, accounting and financial services, consulting, healthcare, architecture, engineering, and construction. As a fast growth technique, online lead generation was a clear winner in the efficacy awards. Firms that generate between 40-59% of their leads online grow 50% faster than firms that generate 0% of their leads online.

Tip: The vast majority of firm leaders still believe that business is done in small rooms with a handshake. That may have been true in the past, but no longer today. As of 2014, the mobile device has surpassed the TV as America's most loved screen. We are living in the social selling age. The sales cycle is no longer a couple phone calls and meetings. It's a journey across channels and if you want to win, you need to be able to get and retain their attention. That's where content marketing comes in. It is used to help move potential customers through your sales process. Don't let limited time scare you away. Content strategy, production, and even campaign management can be easily and affordably outsourced.