Commoditization is the byproduct of an overcrowded marketplace. In other words, you have so many competitors that your clients can afford to be fickle. Don't worry; you'll survive it. But if you want to thrive, there are only two courses of action:
- Develop subject matter expertise in a less crowded niche
- Develop deep relationships with your clients so that they wouldn't dream of replacing you
Both of these alternatives require a modicum of courage. It takes courage to pivot your practice into an industry niche or a specialized area of expertise. (After all, you'll be turning your focus away from broader opportunities that a generalist might capture.) But if your chosen niche is on the rise, you will attract burgeoning clients who are more comfortable working with an expert in their space. Consider developing an industry emphasis such as cannabis, blockchain, or SaaS rather than associating yourself mainly with mature general practice areas such as M&A, insurance, or real estate.
It also takes courage to pursue meaningful relationships with your client base. What if you sink so much time into client development that your other priorities are neglected? What if your clients are not as receptive as you had hoped? What if you find your non-billable pursuits to be fruitless?
But there simply isn't a third option anymore for those who want to develop a meaningful book of business. If you're a technician at heart, identify your niche. If you're more of a social person, start visiting your clients on a regular basis. If you don't feel like doing either, bolster your courage.