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Brooke Shatles is a lover of art, beaches, and music. Brooke is the mother of 3 boys, 3 dogs, and everyone who works at Answering Legal.
The year was 2013. My family and I had just started an answering service that answered phones for small businesses across the country. We did a great job, but we didn’t offer anything proprietary that really set us apart from the competition.
Other than our commitment to 24/7 live answering and our support team, we didn’t offer our clients any additional value. I had to really take a look at that. What could my family’s business offer that no other service could? Through conversations with our customers, we started to customize each account to offer something individual and unique. One customer wanted us to ask callers three specific questions. Another customer wanted us to just get the caller’s name and number, and tell the caller that the owner will call them in one minute. The customizations piled on.
As our customers began to add more of their own business’s style and instructions onto their account, we noticed that our law firm customers often needed the most customization, but that each customization was similar in its needs. Depending on the type of law, each firm needed some questions asked to make sure that the caller was a good potential client for their firm. Usually three to four questions per type of law, we found that this was super easy to scale.
And so, Answering Legal was born. Well, obviously I skipped a lot in there, but instead of just being a regular, boring old answering service, we decided to cater our service to the unique needs of law firms. We decided that, in order to make sure we were really good at that, we had to remove all distractions. So we stopped taking on new clients for anyone other than lawyers.
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How is this relevant to today’s world?
I’m not telling you to go out and find a niche in your space. What I’m saying is this: You have to always be willing to change and adapt in order to succeed.
Here are some things business owners in any industry can think about in order to replicate this kind of thinking:
• Compare your services/products to those of your competitors: Is there anything that you know you do way better than them? Use that to separate yourself in your marketing campaigns. Internally, you’ll want to shift your focus to make sure that your new priority is this differentiation. For us, it was that we excelled in handling calls for law offices. What is it that your business does best?
• Internalize the feedback you receive from your customers: Are they appreciative of a certain part of what you provide? Do you hear echoing praise about a specific feature or product that you offer? Or, is there criticism or lack of hype around something? Make sure that your services and offerings line up with what your customers actually want. When it came to my business, my law firm customers often all had the same things to say — that our receptionists had learned the jargon, met the needs of the callers and forwarded along the information that law firms really needed in order to succeed. What is your business excelling at that your customers continually give you praise for? Double down on it!
It wasn’t an easy decision to basically eliminate all of our prospects and focus all of our time and energy on just a subset of our target market. I’m not looking for a pat on the back, but that is ultimately why Answering Legal was born and why our company is as successful as it is today.
What decision are you scared to make because you think it won’t pay off in the long run? Is it investing in that advertising or marketing campaign? Hiring that new person even though your workload is becoming too much? Quitting your job to start chasing your dream of being a podcaster?
As long as you’ve done your research, you see a demand for the product or service you’re going to offer, and you have a plan for how to implement your new strategy, you’ll be in the best position possible to succeed.
Forbes Agency Council is an invitation-only community for executives in successful public relations, media strategy, creative and advertising agencies. Do I qualify?
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Author: Brooke Shatles, Forbes Councils Member
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