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What DeBeers Knows That We Don’t

One of my clients pointed me to an old Atlantic Monthly article about DeBeers Diamonds and how they came to monopolize the world market on those fabulous gems. If you want to read the full article, you will find it at http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/198202/diamond. In the meantime, I have a few thoughts on why DeBeers is stronger at creating and keeping a market than any professional services firm I know:

  1. Through careful study and lots of planning, DeBeers knows precisely who their target market is. If every law and CPA firm knew this, and directed all its efforts as pointedly as DeBeers, we would all corner our markets, too.
  2. They invest in repeat advertising, hammering the same message(s) home every time without deviation: Diamonds are forever. If professional services firms could find their central message and use it repeatedly to their target markets, they would begin to hear people repeating it back to them, just like DeBeers does. It’s essential to determine your firm’s message (one that’s beyond a tag line and is authentic). Then, keep using it in all forms of communication – including information that comes from the mouths of the firm’s owners.
  3. DeBeers sells the public an idea rooted in emotions. They aren't just selling carbon-pressurized crystals. They are selling love, success, status. Buying decisions are most often made using more emotion than logic. It's no different when choosing a lawyer or CPA. Do I like him? Do I trust him? Do I want to give him my business? These are the things people consider most often when purchasing professional services. They are emotional, not logical.
  4. DeBeers works strategically with competitors to great profit (some would say DeBeers bullies its partners into submission, but that is not my point). Look carefully to find out if there are opportunities for your firm to cooperate with others who might ordinarily be competitors.

CPA firms and law firms could learn much from how product companies build their businesses. DeBeers is one of many examples.

© Melinda Guillemette 2009