Testing Your Firm's Positioning

By Elke Giba posted 02-28-2019 11:13


Indulge me for just a moment and think about your past projects.

Take all the projects your firm completed in the last year — both the great projects and the ones that caused too many late nights — and mentally put them all into a pile. Now sort them, one by one, into categories by the kind of work your firm completed on each project. Be as specific as you can. For example:

Structural engineering on this school renovation . . . municipal parking garage . . . 50,000 sq. ft. commercial retail space . . . new construction church design . . .

Look at the biggest pile. If you have positioned your firm properly in the marketplace, you won't be surprised at the kinds of projects in the largest pile. These projects reflect your technical team's core competencies and experience. Clients reach out to your firm for this kind of work precisely because of the level of expertise you bring to a project. Your work can be easily grouped into categories, either by market or service. That is a good thing.

However, if after this exercise you have little groups of projects all over the place without any connection to each other, your firm is suffering from poor positioning. Poorly positioned firms are easy to recognize: the business development team is run ragged chasing down any new opportunity; your win rate is much lower than it could be because you're chasing absolutely everything — including work that isn't a fit for your firm; and the phrase "full-service" is used to describe the generic services you offer.

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