Sure, marketing for professional services gets more complex by the day, but that’s because it’s made up of activities that are by nature very hard to quantify and pin down. Sometimes even the best of the best have a hard time marketing because they are so focused quantifying and searching for that one killer technique, they just don’t dedicate enough time and patience to have many components working together.
Whether you’re in life science translation, accounting, law, pharmacy network consulting, or provide other professional services, the advice below still applies if you want to define your ideal customer, make the competition irrelevant and intentionally guide a prospect to becoming a referral source.
Read on for the marketing techniques that can help your professional services succeed this week, this year and beyond:
Start With Your Ideal Client
Most professional service marketing today is target market-centric not ideal client-centric. And while the first one is important, it’s equally important to understand the clients that you are well suited to serve and that you want to work with. This will make a win-win for both you and your client. Ask yourself the following:
- Who needs the services you provide?
- Who can you deliver the greatest value to?
- Who do you enjoy working with?
Take into account your best accounts today and what makes them ideal for you so that you can apply it to attracting new clients in the future. Take the following into consideration when defining these ideal clients:
- What do they look like?
- What are their problems?
- How do they want to be served?
- What do they think value is?
Once you can answer these questions, put the list together and keep it nearby to help qualify prospects. This will help to ensure you don’t target everyone, wasting valuable time, energy, attention and money on the wrong prospects.
No marketing technique is complete without a comprehensive understanding of your ideal client.
Develop a Problem-Solving Message
There’s something to be said for a thorough, extensively understanding of your buyer’s world. When you’re taking the time to address the problems your prospects see and feel before offering your solution, there is little chance the techniques you’re implementing to attract and convert them won’t resonate.
Insight into the problems prospects are having is key because very few people want what you sell. That’s not a blow to you or your business or your solutions. I’m sure all are remarkable. People want what they believe they will get, achieve, relieve, dodge, or acquire based on buying what you sell.
So, your job is to understand the problems prospects are trying to solve and match your solutions to those very specific problems.
Make a list of the problems you solve for ideal clients
If you’re having a tough time thinking about your ideal client’s problems, think about the conversations you had leading up to your sales meeting, the things addressed in your client interview or hopefully, you’re a good note taker and can revisit those for some insight.
For example, a lot my firms prospective clients might say things like — I just want my phone to ring, I want to be on the first page of Google, I want more referrals, I want less marketing headaches, I want my website to generate leads, I feel like I’m wasting money on ineffective marketing, etc.
So my firm don’t sell strategic marketing consulting services or marketing plans or even consulting — all my ideal clients need to know about what we do is that:
- We make the phone ring — end of story.
- We get you on the first page of Google — end of story.
- We make more referrals happen — end of story.
- We make marketing headaches go away — end of story.
- We make the website generate leads — end of story.
- We make marketing dollars go to work — end of story.
Another example, a massage practice: They might have the best tables, oils, and most highly skilled therapist but all their customers seem to care about is that their pain and discomfort go away.
So that’s the problem solving message they need to communicate, shout about and promote. The rest is an expectation — I mean doesn’t everyone in the massage business have highly skilled therapist.
Don’t Sell, Give
Don’t sell, give. Repeat that sentence over and over again so that it sticks with you.
Use your website, social media, articles, networking, speaking, advertising, sales calls, meetings, sponsorships ( I think you get my point) to help your ideal client solve a problem they’re having.
This helps to establish trust and credibility, which are two attributes that are key if you want somebody to eventually buy from you.
Show Your Expertise in Content
Content continues to grow in importance in the professional service marketing mix. Most buying decisions today start with a prospect consuming your content. Be it an ad, a blog post, LinkedIn publishing or otherwise, how you show up, what you have to say and the positions you take about industry topics matter. Placing value in verbal and visual content that demonstrates your ability to lead is critical.
Professional service providers underestimate the value that educational content can bring to the table. 65% of buyers accept a meeting or otherwise connect when they find content on the best practice methodology based on the provider’s area of expertise.
As professional service providers, buyers look to you for insights and to set the tone and the agenda in your respective field. Showing up as an expert can help you build trust with your ideal customers and position your organization as an authority.
Build Trust at Every Touchpoint
So many professional service providers are focused on the changes in marketing and all the new things we have to master and pay attention to.
The fact is the most significant driver of change today isn’t the way marketing is changing, it’s the way buying is changing. With clients now in charge of their buying journey, the most important marketing technique left is your ability to build trust at every touchpoint – client experience.
While they are in charge of their journey, it’s your job to influence it, and in my opinion, this starts with analyzing your current impact throughout the journey. Consider how you can dramatically build trust at each stage. When you dive into the ways to improve your client experience, start with where your gaps are first, and then optimize the areas you are already making efforts in.
Be First In The World
No. Not the whole world, but in your buyers world. Being first to the world doesn’t matter. What matters is being first in your buyers world.
74% of buyers choose the company that they first hear about. Get in front of your prospects early. It’s no secret that there’s a direct correlation between awareness and market share. So investing in brand awareness efforts that raises the profile of your professional service among ideal clients can help you close the deal. Read here 5 Ways to Supercharge Your Brand Awareness
A Marketing Process is The Solution
This may be hard for you to come to grips with but marketing is a process, plain and simple. Now, some people take that to mean that you simply create a one size fits all, turn-key set of tactics and call it a day.
The truth, however, lies not in the repeatable tactics, but in the repeatable process based on the right strategy.
Marketing is — getting someone who has a need to become aware of you then trust you enough to buy and refer.
Awareness and Trust — You need them both to make the sale and generate referrals.
To gain awareness and trust you need a process approach to marketing. It is this marketing process that presents your message in various formats and channels that eventually allows you to cut through the clutter and become the obvious choice.