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Not another generalist design firm

~ by Alan W

The world does not need another generalist design firm. The world is drowning in undifferentiated design businesses. If you are positioned as a “UX/UI/XD/Design” business or a “Digital/Design innovation/transformation” company or a “insights/research/HCD/UCD/data driven” firm, then you are no different in the eyes of your clients to all your competitors they measure you against.

What they need is deep expertise. Expertise is the only valid basis for differentiating your design business from the competition. Not personality. Not process. Not price. It is expertise and expertise alone that sets us apart in a meaningful way.

Put yourselves in this client’s shoes for a moment. Let’s say the client is a fintech start-up app. If you were them, which business would you approach to solve your UX design-related needs:

  1. A UX/UI design firm (there are many to choose from)

  2. A digital innovation design firm (again, many to choose from)

  3. A human/user centered design firm (yip, many of these too)

  4. A design firm that specializes in fintech startups (less of these in the market)

  5. A design firm that specializes in UX for fintech startup apps (even less of these)

Immediately I, as this client in question, feel like that one business, option 5, will be closest to my niche needs and understand my challenges.

For you, the option 5 design firm, you sit with few competitors and premium positioning in this particular niche space. Suddenly you become desired by the “fintech start-up app’ firms who require UX services. You stand out from the generalist design firm whose clients can only begin to differentiate by price because they all sound like they do the same thing.

If your answer is yes to any of the following notions you should be considering niching down your positioning in order to pull in business and charge a premium for it:

  • Do any of your competitors have the same/similar positioning as you? (go look!)

  • Is price your only form of differentiation?

  • Do you have a mixed bag of clients? Or do they all have something in common? Is it clear exactly who you work with and what projects you take on?

  • Do you have something you do that is unique to what your direct competitors do? Something that makes you an expert (and expertise means there are few who do what you do which makes you an expert in this area). This does not mean “the best design”, this is about being the best within a certain niche industry, skill/discipline, target market and combinations thereof.

  • Does what you say on your website, in your pitches and proposals, focus on your niche? Are you telling the world what makes you option 5 or are your words general like the other options?

Finding and articulating your area of design expertise will help your ‘ideal client’ to find you. And it reduces who you compete with for their business. AND potential for premium pricing increases. Amongst other, expertise positioning also helps with design talent acquisition and retention, attracting the right talent to your business.

Don't be another generalist design firm, figure out your niche area of design expertise and carve it into the market. Potential clients are looking for help to differentiate you from the ever growing list of generalized design firms. Help them find you.

Work with Alan W

“Solving niche challenges founders face”.

Illustrator: Lisa Williams (Instagram: @artist_llw)


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