Strong form of differentiation #7 is: Provide the client with additional resources they need but don’t have access to themselves.
Remember that weak forms of differentiation are claims that almost any of your competitors can credibly make. “We have a great process.” “We have a great team.” That kind of thing…
In a way, your services are resources that your client needs but doesn’t have access to in the form of in-house expertise.
Beyond just your services, what else could you bundle in with your client engagements to add more value and differentiate yourself from developers who just parachute in, do the work, and then leave only the code they’ve written after the project is over? Some ideas:
- Knowledge transfer to their in-house staff.
- Re-usable documentation that you’ve created.
- “Bonus” software, libraries, that you leave the client with to help them use, maintain, or extend the software you’ve written for them.
- Connecting clients with lower-priced, pre-vetted freelancers who can help with lower value follow-on tasks (maintenance, etc.) after you finish the high value work.
Two observations about those ideas:
1) Ideas 2 and 3 are only really feasible if you’ve narrowed your focus somehow. If you’re a generalist developer, the commonalities between Client A and Client B are going to be so extreme that there’s no value in you creating re-usable assets that you provide as bonuses or extras to clients.
On the other hand, if you have narrowed your focus sufficiently, you can create re-usable assets that differentiate you from your competition.
2) Few of these additional resources are based on your expertise with software. And that’s exactly right.
If you’re not finding ways of providing additional value to clients that are based on your “soft skills”, your market position, and your network of professional relationships, you are leaving money on the table.
Reducing your business focus actually magnifies your ability to create value for clients. Get started with the help of the best and only book for self-employed software developers who want to narrow down their focus: http://thepositioningmanual.com
Talk to you soon,