Sometimes a line from a movie says it all. Remember when every burger joint had a secret sauce? In the film “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” teenage workers from various fast food restaurants reveal what goes into the “secret sauce” for their hamburgers. One says “ketchup and mayonnaise,” and the other says “thousand island dressing.” Make sure that some real problem-solving ingredients have gone into the secret sauce of your firm—your proprietary process—and that the name actually reflects your unique approach.When potential clients tell you their problems, they expect you to tell them how you can solve them. This is the moment of truth: The time you explain how you solve problems like theirs. After you outline your path to a solution, you want them thinking, “At last…someone who understands my problem and really knows what they are doing.”
There’s an old marketing saying that goes like this: “If you don’t have anything unique to advertise about your business, then you should advertise your business for sale.” To woo and win clients, you need a distinct problem-solving methodology for your professional service firm or technology-based service company. This is your proprietary process, an approach unique to your firm. This is a must to include in a business advice book for a consultant or services business.
If you go to the Google search engine and type in “proprietary process,” you will discover 20,000 entries. Obviously, the proprietary process, as a marketing technique, is gaining currency in the marketplace. Nashville-based business consultant David Baker says one of the most common mistakes a service firm can make is not having a defined, proprietary process. Writing in his newsletter Persuading (available through his Web site, www.recourses.com), Baker highlights several reasons why a proprietary process is important.
“Process is differentiating, highlighting the uniqueness of your firm with a process that you own,” says Baker. Other advantages he cites are that a process demonstrates your experience, makes your work less accidental and will even allow you to charge more. “Clients are always willing to pay more for packages than individual hours within a fee structure.”
A good proprietary process, however, is never a cut-and-dried industry standard lifted from a textbook. Instead, it codifies a firm’s particular method of problem-solving, typically identifying and sequencing multiple steps that often take place in the same, defined order. Furthermore, the completed process should have an intriguing name—one that you can trademark. What are some of these intriguing proprietary process names?
Here are a few to ponder:
• The I-Innovation Process
• The SupporTrak RACE System
• The NetRaker Methodology
• The Systematic Determination Process
• The Persuasion Iteration Process
Don’t worry if you don’t understand what any of these processes do just by hearing the names: That’s actually the point. A name that is unique enough to actually qualify to be trademarked will also create the opportunity to explain the process to potential clients. Don’t go overboard, however, and create a name that is all marketing hype with no real service substance.