An international company that designs and runs business computer systems segments itself into divisions—each with annual revenues ranging from $75 million to $125 million—to serve specific markets. Marc Weiner, managing director at consulting firm Niche Creator Pro LLC of Virginia Beach, Virginia, worked with one division that specializes in software architecture and implementation as well as database implementation and support. It had, at any one time, about 700 employees waiting to be assigned to client work.
The employees, whose responsibilities included consulting and program management, needed to interview with and be approved by a client before being assigned to a project. The company understood its clients’ needs and was presenting ideal candidates.
“Technologically, these folks are just brilliant. They know their technology. They know how to troubleshoot. They know how to manage. There was no question that their technical skills were very, very superb,” Weiner says.
However, technical expertise was not the only factor driving placements. During their interviews, employees struggled with demonstrating to clients that they’d already solved comparable problems for other similar clients.
The essence of niche marketing is “focusing on the needs of a tightly defined market segment,” Weiner says. “The idea is to match the specifics of what you can do to the real population who wants it.”
Because the company wasn’t effectively communicating how its employees’ skills could bring value to its clients, employees remained unplaced, and the firm was paying their salaries and benefits without generating any revenue from their time.
Weiner taught the IT professionals to emphasize in interviews what mattered most to the specific client and how they were uniquely qualified to help.
Employees learned “how to present themselves in such a way that the client will go, ‘Wow, you’ve done all that for somebody else? I want you to do that for me, too,’” Weiner says.
Within six months, the number of employees waiting to be placed plunged from approximately 700 to about 350. Costs fell, revenues rose and profits climbed. The division also strengthened its client relationships by demonstrating how thoroughly it understands clients’ needs and how adeptly it can meet them.