Is DIY Your Biggest Competitor? Here’s How To Compete, and Win

Recently I was talking to my business coach about who my biggest competitors are and had a huge aha: when I’m bidding on projects, I’m rarely competing with other researchers or big research firms.  More likely than not, I’m going up against the possibility of my client doing the work themselves: DIY!

I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen DIY increase in the past few years for a couple of reasons. Here’s why I think it’s happening, and how I’ve responded.

The first reason is the availability of inexpensive DIY web-based tools.  In my field (customer research) there is a plethora of inexpensive or even free survey tools available on the web. It’s tempting for organizations (and even other consultants) to use them, instead of partnering with a research expert.

My awareness of this situation led to adding an entire page to my website devoted to exploring the dangers of this thinking.  I recently found a similar write-up on the dangers of doing your own online marketing.  And even a plea to companies to not go to marketing and ad agencies for bids when they have every intention of doing it themselves.

Are there web tools that undermine the work you do?  Think about how can you help your clients understand the added value that you bring to the party, beyond just using the same tools that they have access to.

The second reason? The economy, of course.  We’ve all run into reduced budget scenarios with our clients.  Recently I submitted a proposal for a combination quantitative (web survey)/qualitative (phone interviews) project. The client pushed to reduce the cost by having some of his staff do the interviews.

Of course, I didn’t say no!  I was lucky to be given the chance to find a win-win solution (vs. losing the project entirely) and worked with my client to help figure out what pieces of the project made the most sense to have his team do, and where his company could benefit the most from my expertise.

After that experience, I now include a DIY option in my conversations with prospects.  Why not put it out on the table  and discuss the pros and cons of DIY?  In many situations, I’ve found that doing so actually increases my credibility with prospects and helps me streamline the process of creating a proposal that meets my clients’ needs.

I encourage you to stop and think about some of the DIY approaches that could be competing with your work and address it head on.  Some of the things you can do:

  • Write a blog or web page on the topic. Share with prospects when you submit a proposal.
  • Talk openly with prospects about the temptations of DIY and what problems you have seen with clients who took that approach (have you had a customer come to you after failing at DIY?).
  • Include 3 different project scope options in proposals and make sure that one of them includes some element of DIY.

Please comment here and share your own DIY competitor experiences and what you have done to stay relevant in this DIY world!

About Jen Berkley Jackson

Jen Berkley Jackson, founder and owner of The Insight Advantage, has extensive experience in using various methods (surveys, focus groups, one-on-one interviews) to integrate the voice of the customer into all functions, helping organizations increase market share, revamp product lines/services, and ultimately increase customer loyalty and retention.

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