Big consultancies tend to elicit a wide array of emotions - from fear to admiration or even aspiration. There are some clear similarities between the core business models of these companies and the business models of commercial property agents.
If you look beyond the surface, you will notice that some of the biggest consultancies invest strategic efforts and money in diversifying their service offering. A few years ago they started exploring digital as a new sector to expand their services into. All of them now have a dedicated digital consultancy division.
Since then, they’ve been proven to add value, enhance the offering to their clients and ultimately drive higher ROI. If you analyse the stock prices of just two of the biggest consultancies, PwC and Accenture, you will see a significant increase in stock prices since their expansion into the digital sector.
The key to success for all was to innovate and leverage out-the-box solutions. Here are some examples of strategic activities consultancies have taken to improve their offering:
Building an ecosystem
PwC was one of the first big corporates to jump on the ‘startup’ wagon. Launched in Luxembourg in 2012, PwC Accelerator supports startup businesses with their consultancy services and often assists with fundraising from the legal perspective.
You may ask what is in it for PwC? The main strategic goals of this investment are:
- Taking advantage of nimble, technologically advanced partners to deliver projects or parts of projects on behalf of PwC
- To get next-gen technology know-how before competitors
- To win new deals based on the access to new innovative solution
- To find potential acquisition targets
If you aspire to be a key innovator in your niche, having your own innovation, technology or startup programme could be a fruitful, tactical move.
Content marketing in focus
KPMG produces and publishes plenty of content on various aspects related to the services they offer. From in-depth industry reports to short articles addressing current business issues to case studies, KPMG’s content marketing strategy covers a broad range of topics and formats. Plus, KPMG hosts regional and global events packed with guest speakers and full of high-quality content. The content from events is then adapted for their website.
The main aim of this strategy is to:
- Showcase their ability to draw insights from data Build a reputation online through publishing high quality content
- Improve their SEO for keywords related to both well-established and new services
- Drive PR coverage through insights/stats from their original research
- Fuel their social media strategy and extend the reach online
The key takeaway from KMPG’s content strategy is how much work is put into making content as relevant as possible. A registered user also has the ability to personalise his view of the blog so only the content he is interested in will be shown.
The king of creative acquisitions
In recent years Accenture has earned quite a reputation for acquisitions of creative and media agencies. With its acquisition of Karmarama and Rothco, Accenture showed the world how serious it is about providing comprehensive digital and advertising services, putting them in direct competition with creative and media agencies like WPP or Publicis. It certainly broadens the scope of offered services increasing revenue potential.
Expanding your service offering to adjacent sectors in order to upsell services within client organisations is a proven strategy to grow business organically when your original sector is saturated or highly competitive. Plus, providing services across different departments within an organisation creates a certain level of ‘stickiness’. It’s harder to stop using a services provider who is deeply rooted in an organisation.
Similar to Accenture, Deloitte has a large division working on marketing, creative and digital projects - Deloitte Digital. In the advertising and marketing industry, Deloitte Digital has earned its stripes amongst more traditional creative and digital agencies in a bid for new contracts.
They understand that digital transformation spans across internal systems and external communications (e.g. marketing campaigns). It’s about connecting the dots. To be exact, to connect data sources and tools used for crunching the data. For instance, if a marketing campaign is devised to drive sign-ups to a loyalty app, in the connected ecosystem the data from these sign-ups would be fed to the CRM system (customer relationship management system) and from there the data will be pulled into marketing automation systems like email or web notification systems. Your CRM can feed data to the Facebook Ad Manager or Google Adwords.It’s a holistic approach to the digital presence and digital outcomes of an organisation.
Ernst & Young
Customer experience is one of the focused areas Ernst & Young consult their clients on. Depending on the type of the business, customer experience can span across a wide range of media - from physical store to customer representatives on the phone to voice assistants like Alexa or Google Home. EY position themselves as a consulting firm that can help solves the disparity between customer experience across digital channels and offline. They offer an end-to-end solution from building a strategy to implementation.
The big takeaway of this approach is to find a solution to a problem your clients and potential clients are struggling with and offer them the solution as a service.
Most service providers win new contracts thanks to their reputation, expertise and perceived value for money. As a service provider it is incredibly hard to differentiate your service from competitors. However, by adding value through various initiatives, such as those mentioned above, you can elevate a company reputation and win more clients as a result.