Identifying Your Focus

by | Culture, Marketing Strategy

Identifying your firm’s focus is critical to long-term growth. The most successful firms are clear about who they are, whom they serve, and what value they deliver.

An example of leadership, ingenuity, and selfless collaboration

In the movie Apollo 13, after the crew has survived several harrowing events, the team must adjust its angle to Earth to set the proper trajectory for reentry into Earth’s atmosphere. Too flat an angle bounces the capsule back into space and too steep an angle incinerates the ship. As bad luck would have it, the crew does not have enough battery power to fire up the computer guidance system. The crew determines that the “old-fashioned” way to accomplish the same task is to identify a fixed point in space through one of the capsule’s windows. Earth becomes their fixed point. By keeping Earth in the window as the rockets fire, the crew is able to manually set course. The scene is intense as it shows the crew stalwartly setting the ship on the correct course.

I love this scene because of its intensity, clarity, and ingenuity. As I watched the movie for the 10th time, the scene reminded me of how I often see professional services firms trying to make strategic decisions. While their decisions and actions are neither life-threatening nor historic, they are relevant to the success of firm missions.

The most successful firms are able to look out their proverbial windows, spot their fixed objects in space, fire their engines and head for home. They achieve this by being very clear about who they are, whom they serve and what value they deliver. Most importantly, they work together, regardless of what circumstances they must overcome to complete their missions.

Less successful firms cannot locate their focal points. As a result, they bounce off into outer space or burn up. They do this by either trying to be all things to all people or becoming self-centered and self-serving, thereby neglecting the broader well being of the firm. Infighting, greed, self-righteousness, irresolution, indecision and leadership gaps are just a few of the causes. For whatever reason, in the end, the inability to set a clear vision and make strategic choices leads to mission failure (slower growth, low profitability, obsolescence, higher turnover, firm collapse, etc.)

READ: The BS of PS: Overcoming the Dysfunctional Roadblocks to Growth in Pro Services

Take away

It seems like common sense that members of the firm would all work together for the well being of the firm and its clients. Unfortunately, dysfunctional cultures and misaligned performance measurement systems can create just the opposite behaviors. In order to make it successfully home, leaders must identify that fixed object in space before hitting the thrusters. You don’t need perfection. Like Houston said, “That’s close enough, Jim. Good work.”  On the other hand, failing to do so may lead to a very undesirable outcome.

Be prudent.

 

Jeff McKay

Jeff McKay

Founder & CEO

Jeff’s teams and strategies have helped the world’s top professional services firms achieve industry-leading growth rates, optimize marketing investment and maximize brand value.  He was the SVP of Marketing at Genworth Financial, the Global Marketing Leader at Hewitt Associates, and held senior roles at Towers Perrin and Andersen. 

Related articles

PODCAST: Responding to the Threat of Content Marketing
PODCAST: Responding to the Threat of Content Marketing

In Episode 3, Responding to the Threat of Content Marketing, Jason and I tackle the approaches professional services firms can use—must use—to defend themselves from the SaaS onslaught and the commodification of "proprietary" intellectual capital. Most firms think of...

read more
10 Reasons Why Partners Don’t Understand Marketing
10 Reasons Why Partners Don’t Understand Marketing

One of my more popular and controversial blog posts is “Why Your Marketer Doesn’t Understand Your Firm’s Business.” The title alienates professional services marketers before they get to the first sentence. It satisfies partners because it recognizes what they might...

read more

About the Author

Jeff McKay
Founder & CEO
Prudent Pedal

As a strategist and fractional CMO, Jeff helps firms set smart growth strategies in motion. He was the SVP of Marketing at Genworth Financial, the Global Marketing Leader at Hewitt Associates, and held senior roles at Towers Perrin and Andersen. Learn more.

Topics

Listen to Jeff’s Latest Podcasts

Rattle and Pedal podcast logo

Latest Whitepaper

thumbnail of The BS OF PS

Related posts

Does Your Marketing Team Have Too Many Strategists?

Does Your Marketing Team Have Too Many Strategists?

I often get email questions from my confident readers (i.e. those willing to take the risk of asking) about issues they are facing. The most recent was a great inquiry from Shari, a talented a six-sigma process designer who was asked to get involved in assessing a...

How to Write a Brochure, If You Must

How to Write a Brochure, If You Must

I lament the overuse of marketing brochures as crutches in lieu of purposeful discussions and meaningful client interactions. I simply try to avoid spending marketing time and resources on perfunctory, haughty, worthless marketing collateral.

HOWEVER, if Marketing is going to produce a “brochure,” here is how to write a brochure correctly.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This