It’s extremely difficult to compete on a cost basis against information provider firms operating in 2nd and 3rd world countries. The internet has somewhat leveled the playing field for information providers to the extent that data is far more searchable and accessible and IP telephony makes people easier to connect with. And web software means that anyone can throw up a website and optimize it in no time flat. Social media and marketing tools make it simple to publish and push content. And did I mention that labor cost differentials can go as high as 5:1?
The other side to this is that technology and cheap labor has flooded the market with marginal research reports and analysis that too many companies have termed, shallow and barely informed at best. One dissatisfied customer joking remarked that he thought he could have done a better job after spending the night drinking beers with his mates and settling down in his tub and writing the report. (TMI but telling nonetheless) The products from these shops has improved quite a bit over the years but not hard to do when you start at such a low point at the outset.
So you have two problems to deal with, companies that can generate reports at costs lower than what you can and firms that damage the profession by pushing out junk that makes a whole lot of people suspect in the buyers’ eyes.
So let’s try and consider the cost and quality issues separately even though they intersect in many ways.
You are not going to win a cost battle with someone when they can bill $20 an hour. Try and it you are out of business in no time flat. Sure, you have to look for ways to do more or better with less but how much can you cut? And before you think about joining the outsourcing game, think carefully about the downsides of which there are many.
But while the quality of work from low cost producers isn’t always terrible, it’s certainly beatable and that’s one place companies should focus their efforts. Remember, it is a common practice for these shops to have analysts working on health care one month, IT the next month and solar the following. Or, they are simply republishing work from local freelancers who publish reports between jobs or for a host of other publishing companies.
Furthermore, the firms churning out 275 page reports have another significant and exploitable flaw, someone of any reasonable stature to front the work. Most of the time what you are left with is an anonymous work that is associated with website with an 888 toll free number and a contact form. And without an analyst to identify with the buyer is left with no choice but to wonder just who exactly wrote the report.
A firm with recognizable people that can be showcased and followed by an audience will trump a website with a multitude of reports with generic marketing copy, plenty of it awkwardly written. Your firm’s marketing efforts should be centered on the talent of the people that you employ and making every effort to push their social and other content streams as far and wide as possible. Yes, there is the risk that you will make them famous and lose them but that’s the risk in this business.
Your people are what you use to distinguish yourself against factories. Is your marketing strategy accounting for how to best leverage them as your best asset?