The Problem with “No Problem”


Danger Words

The two most dangerous words in the world of professional services are, “No problem.”

  • “Can you help us with our cyber-protection issues?” “No problem.”
  • “Would you be willing to help us with our CX?” “No problem.”
  • “We are thinking about acquiring a small competitor. Could you do an analysis of the potential cost savings?” “No problem.”

Maybe if you are Deloitte with $38B in US revenues, you have practice groups ready to serve companies on all fronts. However, for most of us, saying, “No problem” to every consulting opportunity means wading into any one of these problems without a lot of experience. And yet, when we are hungry for revenues, the temptation is always to say, “No problem.”

The Power of the Niche

Interestingly, the luminance and attractiveness of an expert services practice go up in direct proportion to the power of its niche. When we are known as the world’s experts at something, even if it is narrowly defined, need has a way of beating a path to our door. Note the paradox: You say “No problem” to everyone and your revenues languish. You say, “No, we don’t do that work, but I can recommend someone who does,” and your revenues go up.

I have written about the power of niching before, but I want to recommend a piece that was just published by The Hinge Group, a branding and marketing firm focused on professional services. Many of you will know the name Lee Frederiksen by the many emails he sends to our industry doing exactly what we are talking about: Letting the world know that he and his firm are the world’s experts at branding and marketing for professional services firms.

Get the Whitepaper

The whitepaper is called “Differentiation Guide for Professional Services Firms” and outlines “21 powerful ways that successful firms differentiate themselves.” I, particularly, enjoyed the profiles of three firms that have successfully positioned themselves as niche providers in a crowded marketplace. Check it out.