Maybe it’s because I have a products & procurement background, but I always look for a companies history, irrespective of context, as part of my assessment criteria when selecting a new service, partner, supplier or pitch target.
A products business means that you are focused around reliability, minimising warranty claims and delivering value for money – fit for purpose – for what the consumer gets in hand, after shelling out their hard earnt cash. If the consumer can make the logical argument with themselves about the validity of spending X on Y, than you have done your job in creating a logical product, without the black art of marketing, the support of your inbound support enquiries environment or the depths of your R&D group adding value and insight to the suite.
Selection of Professional Services is a little different – you are making subjective calls based on other peoples assessment criteria to validate your own selection process. Part of this is talking to other business/people who have engaged said company in services and getting an understanding of the minutiae with which they focused their attention on. You than make a judgement call on the value of what they have experienced based upon your own ideal scenario. If you are smart you also project your worst case scenario and assess whether the same supplier can meet these requirements. Professional services is predicated by the notions of Intellectual Property designation, ownership and use, Regulatory Compliance (if in a regulated industry such as finance or construction) and Corporate Governance obligations.
So, considering the above points, it can be agreed that they are all complicated little scenarios to play out and explore. There’s a lot of hard work that demands care and attention alongside the intense concentration that needs to be devoted to fulfilling these activities succesfully.
With this in mind, you as a business, whether products or professional services based – why are you making it more difficult for your prospective customer by not including a historical narrative of your business successes, key moments and market leading thinking?
I’m a firm advocate of long established business creating a historical section on their website celebrating these highlights and adding a dimension of additional credibility for the business which different people resonate with.
If you are a new business, history is even more important in my estimation. The excitement and agility in your new venture being created out of the ether in itself is a story to tell. New business should have a dialogue focused around the people and WHY they got together to start the venture, a commentary on the gaps they identified in the market which coerced them to “take the plunge” and start up. Each person will have their own unique story to portray centered around their experience, their expertise and their points of difference.
The benefits are enormous:
Removing a barrier to engagement when comparing against competitors – there is a good chance they won’t have a history on their site.
Future staff. Prospective staff are assessing different things about your business when they visit your website. If they believe in the product or service you offer, then you have half won them. If you can make them believe in the company, by way of illustrating your cultural traits of difference, than you have won them over and they’ll be fighting to get in. Better to fend them off than have to find them.
If your competitors do offer a history, benchmark it and create yours as contrasting and either create your own niche against them or prove your value over them by noting more significant achievements
It allows a company controlled distillation of your brand persona to be referenced and factually represented in the marketplace.
It displays a substantive underpinning and psychological cornerstone to investors wishing to see the depth of your organisation.
For products based business, having a historical archive of your products, specification sheets, PDF’s of your manuals, point of sale material for suppliers, is an invaluable resource for people looking to buy your products for the FIRST time, as they get the comfort that you support your consumers for the long term.