Why traditionally recommended marketing methods don’t work for professional service providers and advisers and what to do about it.
I’ve been a marketing professional for 39 years and in the early days, I invested a lot of money in time in learning my profession. Way back then there were literally no nationally or internationally recognized degrees for marketing. So it was a matter of paying money to the experts and sitting in on their workshops, seminars, courses, and programs along with reading books. Of course, there wasn’t any Internet either. A lot’s changed since then.
In my many educational experiences, it was rare to come across anyone who is recommending a specific marketing method that was applicable/relevant/effective for professionals who are marketing services or advice.
Almost all of the marketing that was recommended was for physical products or paid advertising was recommended for professional services such as attorneys, accountants, and consultants.
And sad to say, paid advertising that generates new client inquiries of reasonable quality, simply doesn’t exist.
It didn’t exist way back then and it doesn’t exist now.
The reason is pretty simple: when you’re marketing professional services such as those listed above (and today we can add business coaching and financial planning which went around 40 years ago) you actually inviting someone to enter into a relationship with you because of your services and your advice that the going to be paying for.
That’s why when you’re marketing the invisible, as I call it, it is far more like you’re proposing marriage than it is selling a set of golf clubs.
If you’re selling a commodity item (that means a product is essentially the same and available for purchase in multiple locations) then the prospect’s decision to purchase is mostly going to come down to price, warranty and possibly they’ll consider the likelihood of customer service levels.
But when you’re marketing professional services is another factor which I would argue is more important than any of the factors I’ve just mentioned.
It’s the level of trust that the prospect has on you as an individual.
It’s not just the trust around your integrity although that’s obviously critically important. It’s also the trust around your capability to deliver on whatever it is you’re promising to deliver.
And that one factor means that most of the traditionally recommended marketing methods won’t work for you if you are a provider of professional services.
And if you want inbound marketing, meaning that new clients are making inquiries as opposed to you having to chase them, then the list of effective marketing methods as gets even smaller.
And 39 years of marketing professional services, advice (and 24 years of marketing software) the one consistent truth that I’ve discovered is that you must create the opportunity for a prospect to spend enough time with you so that you can establish what I call the four levels of psychological a lower which are rapport, respect, relate-ability, and reciprocity.
I’ve constrained by the word count that I’m allowed for this post so it would not be possible for me to elaborate on each of those four levels. I can, however, tell you how to achieve all four.
It’s really quite simple to explain although I will offer the caveat that it’s a heck of a lot harder to implement effectively. If you want to know more about that the noise goes and reads my inbound marketing book.
The best way to generate inbound leads that are of exceptionally high quality is to run an online meeting and at their meeting to demonstrate how you work with your clients. To be clear: this is not a “free training webinar” or some other sort of bait and switch strategy. We’ve all been to those webinars or seminars that promise to give us the real oil only to have us sitting there and being pitched to buy some sales crazy Dickhead (yes they deserve a capital letter).
Assuming that you have a half-decent presentation that I’ll guarantee you a regular flow of inbound new client inquiries if you’ll present on the subject of how you work with your clients to implement your services/advice, once a week at an online meeting such as a webinar or videoconference platform.
Even if you have small numbers but you have people agenda widely interested in your demonstration, you’ll generate high-quality inquiries because the attendees have been attracted by your value proposition which is to share with them how you get such great results for your clients.
By promoting your presentation as a demonstration of how you work with your clients, you’re also separating yourself from all the hype merchants and duplicitous marketers who are really just putting on an event to sell stuff. Your transparent and authentic value proposition will immediately set you apart because people will perceive that there is a high likelihood that if you’re marketing is genuine then you value delivery is quite likely to be of equal quality.
Tom Poland is the author of Inbound Marketing Book