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The Collapse of Distinction

September 8, 2011

Keynote address by Scott McKain, McKain Performance Group

SMPS Build Business Conference, August 2011

Today’s post is courtesy of Laurie Strickland, FSMPS, CPSM, Director of Marketing, Nitsch Engineering

In his keynote address, Scott McKain described “the Collapse of Distinction” in the AEC industry as the “sameness” phenomenon, where clients cannot see a “distinction” between our firms. He described the “Destroyers of Distinction” as being:

  1. collapse of distinctionCopycat Competition: If a competitor has an edge – imitate it, improve upon it. We focus more on the competition than the client.
  2. More or Tougher Competitors: The Internet has brought more direct access than ever before, and widened and flattened the field of competitors.
  3. Familiarity Breeds Contempt: Actually, familiarity breeds complacency, we take for granted our best clients.

Scott maintains that collectively, all three contribute to the collapse of distinction. He went on to provide insight as to how to rise above the “sameness” by recognizing and applying the four cornerstones of distinction:

  1. Clarity: If everyone is saying the same thing about their firms – we provide quality, value, cost effectiveness, blah blah blah – this does not bring clarity to our clients, but just a sea of sameness. Be clear about what you are, and what you are not. Do not diffuse the standards and values that you stand for.
  2. Creativity: Analyze and know your clients well. Evaluate how, when, and who on your staff interacts with your clients throughout the business development or project process, and how you can improve their experience. Distinguish the difference between experience and service.
  3. Communication: Instead of communicating about your projects by describing how your involvement benefited the project, communicate how your client improved a situation or succeeded in satisfying their client as a result of your involvement. It’s about them.
  4. Customer Experience Focus: What is the experience of your clients with your firm? What should it ideally be? How can you make it always turn out that way?

In this compelling address, Scott McKain gave us definitive steps to evaluate our clients’ experience when working with us, to analyze what resonates with a client, and, ultimately, to take steps to create and maintain the kind of experience that will keep our clients coming back for more.

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