Four Myths of Professional Services Marketing

For decades, service industry professionals such as consultants, accountants, and lawyers were reluctant marketers. In a world of cozy relationships, they thrived. Word-of-mouth and personal connections brought them new clients that allowed their business to grow. These days aren’t over, but they are fading quickly.

Personal relationships still drive many service buyers’ decisions. However, cracks are beginning to appear in this model. analysts conducted a study on client buying behaviors and found that over half of professionals who purchase professional services are willing to switch service providers. Many businesses still use golf, theatre tickets, and other incentives to attract new clients. Even these tactics are losing their luster.

Professional service providers need to rethink their traditional marketing techniques and focus on what matters most to clients in order for them to compete and win profitable projects.

Start by challenging these four myths to change your mindset about marketing.

A great work of art speaks for itself.

Some people believe that delivering outstanding results today is the foundation for a successful strategy. If you are doing a great job, your clients will hire you when they have new needs, and you will receive valuable referrals to attract new business. This logic may seem reasonable, but you shouldn’t put your business at risk.

Flawless service is crucial for long-term success for long-term success for long-term success. A professional service company is unlikely to survive a series of service failures. You can’t just assume that your excellent performance will spread throughout your client’s company and beyond.

You need to create client-level communications plans and integrate details about the successes you helped your clients achieve into your marketing plan.

A website is just a tool for promotion.

Even if they have a referral, most prospective clients will visit your website before calling you. This Web site visit can be the first step toward a client relationship.

With a virtual handshake, your site can create a positive impression. This could mean the difference between a client calling you back or not.

Instead of being a mere promotional tool, your Web site should play a crucial role in your strategy for initiating and maintaining relationships with clients. There is no substitute for personal contact with clients. However, your website can and should reinforce your commitment to them.

There are many differences between professional service firms, such as their size, scope of services, and culture. For clients, the Websites of professional service firms may look similar.

You’ll see similar marketing messages on the websites of several companies, including these:

Our passion is to provide insights to small business owners that will lead you and your company to financial success.

We have created our firm to provide you with the support and resources needed to meet your financial goals, both long-term and short-term.

Customers buy services from those they trust. These meaningless claims won’t work.

You should use your website to gain the trust of clients. How? Your site content should be based on specific client issues and problems, not generic mission statements or your qualifications. Give your clients exactly what they want–as a way for them to know that you understand their needs.

It would be best if you found out about the client’s suffering. g

Sales trainers advise that the first step in achieving sales success is to find out what a client’s “pain” is. It’s recommended that we ask potential clients such questions as What keeps you up at night? What are you most concerned about? What would you do if you had a magical wand?

Such questions not only crossed the client’s eye but also revealed two fatal flaws. First, they show that you’re looking for an answer rather than having a substantive conversation.

Second, not every client is looking for pain relief. Business advisors may solve difficult problems for their clients, but this doesn’t make them painful. Clients may want to improve their business, increase the company’s overall performance, or pursue new opportunities. You don’t always have to relieve pain.

It is safe to follow the lease.r

The majority of professional service marketing is based on a predictable approach–a series of “safe” decisions made based on the marketing strategies used by others.

This results in a marketing style similar to other firms. Seth Godin, a marketing expert, warns, “Professional service marketing is among the safest I’ve seen.” It’s risky because it seems to be taking no risks.

There is certainly value in learning from others’ successes. Many companies indeed face similar challenges in marketing. Using the ideas from those who are facing the same problems may be a great way to develop your marketing strategy.

Due to the fact that marketing programs from other firms can blur the subtle differences, clients may think they are the same.

Professional service firms recycle ideas from others far too often. You’ll see that 25 companies use marketing materials to differentiate themselves. They may emphasize attributes such as quality service, price, methods, or responsiveness. These differentiators have lost their power because they are overused.

Clients see these claims as table stakes— the minimum required to play, but not enough for them to win. It’s not necessary to completely stop using these market differentiators. You can still use them, but you should focus your marketing communications on something more client-focused. For example, explain how well you understand your client’s problem and then describe how others have solved similar issues.

No More Myths

Marketing professional services continue to evolve, and there are many new methods of attracting and retaining clients. Some marketing strategies are no longer effective, but others have emerged as winners.

One thing that will never change in marketing is that clients will continue to purchase from people they trust and who are competent. They must be able to prove, beyond reasonable doubt, that they can deliver the results that they promise.

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