I see it time and again: when you try to be all things to all people, you’ll be nothing to anyone.
Choosing one service model will eliminate you from consideration by people who prefer another service model.
That’s what you want. Let them go elsewhere.
You will make a successful business and a successful life working with people who want your model.
When you are clear on the IMPACTS your model delivers, and do the appropriate marketing, sales, customer service and follow through, you will have plenty of great fit clients.
Three services models
I’ve studied the services models of hundreds of firms and conclude that there are three model types.
- Authority: Expert who delivers a deep information and a plan. They say, “We know everything; we’ll tell you what we know, we’ll even tell you the steps, you figure out how to implement.” Lots of famous names fall into this model: Brene Brown, Gary Vaynerchuk, Simon Sinek, Tony Robbins. Many others are successful even if they’re famous only within their niche.
- Partner: Understands buyers’ needs. They come up with appropriate actions and work for and with clients. Many consultants (including me) fall into this category. This model works well for coaching, real estate, videography, marketing, book writing; conflict resolution; compliance advisory; financial advisory; legal advisory such as estate planning, contracts, business transactions.
- Implementer: certain industries like accounting, law/litigation, web design, and training require the expert/professional to do the implementation.
Illustrative example: Contrast between Authority and Partner
The Authority on digital courses: She has deep and broad knowledge about designing and selling online courses. Her offer includes very detailed steps and processes. Do this first, do this next, etc.
The buyer has to have the idea, design the course, have technical skills, marketing skills, etc. For example, she instructs to use Polls on LI, FB, and IG to grow your mailing list. When people vote, you get their email address, then you can send them a report.
I thought I’d give this a try. I put a poll on all three sites. Did not get ONE single vote on any of them! Clearly my question was not interesting or attractive. The Authority does not help you with the content of your poll.
Art Storefronts, a company that supports online art galleries, gives you a daily marketing calendar. Do this step, here’s videos and articles that explain every detail—and here is the language to use for social media posts, for newsletters, videos, and hashtags. The artist has to implement but ASF tells them what to implement in great, proven detail. And they offer 7 day a week direct support, and twice weekly zoom calls where artists get their specific questions answered. This is a Partner model.
How to choose your model
Consider your own preferences.
If you like the nitty gritty, or if you’re in a field that requires implementation according to rules, such as accounting and bookkeeping, you have the ingredients for an Implementation model.
The cool thing about this is you naturally stay a leader in your field because of the constant changes to it. No accountant is the same this year as they were last year because the rules, laws and regulations change and they have to stay abreast.
You are naturally delivering significant impacts and your fees should reflect that.
Some knowledgeable experts are innovative and creative when they learn of their client’s needs, wants, and desires. No two client situations are the same, and these experts deliver a unique offer to each client. Thus the Partnership model of service fits them perfectly.
These providers know the totality of the IMPACTS they deliver, and they tailor their work to deliver IMPACTS of significance to each client.
Authorities are skilled at compiling the IMPACTS they deliver into packages or processes. One business coach I hold in high esteem has created a business growth tool that he gives to all his clients. He coaches them on the meaning of all the elements and helps them understand their results. The clients are responsible for implementing the many and varied tasks that produce the numbers to put into the tool.
If you are excited by this model, it’s up to you to do the work behind the scenes to develop your processes and tools. You may write books, you may give speeches with your top ten tips, you may offer online courses and webinars.
Many Authorities reach vast audiences and generate significant revenue and profit. I think it depends heavily on your ability to “get out there” and reach large numbers of people with your compelling offer.
If the niche fits wear it
Most of the knowledge services providers I know personally are either Partners or Implementers. These models suit them personally which then motivates them to serve their clients at a high level.
When we discuss options for growth, we focus on doing better with what they already do, rather than trying to switch services models.
I believe a firm and its owner will enjoy greater success by building on their strengths rather than by spreading themselves thinly into another model.
The sky is the limit for knowledge services firms. What are you doing today to reach higher?