My oracle suggested that 110 Australians monthly want to know “how to market a business”. So I thought I’d outline the best ways to market a professional services business, because honestly it’s a lot different advice than for an online retail shop, a wholesaler, or a software product.
So – as I’ve seen in professional services, there are two main ways that people find out about them:
- A street presence, including vehicle signage, office signage, etc.
- Word of mouth, including all referrals
For accountants, lawyers, architects, quantity surveyors and the like, marketing must seem like a mystery akin to a magic genie. But really, it’s not venturing into the mystical – you can use logic in marketing any business.
Create a Brand and Brand Proposition
So, a brand is:
a nice logo, sure, but it’s also great signage, professional appearance of staff, friendliness, signature touches (like you might just send a cheery Congratulations message whenever someone lodges their return), and a feeling one gets from interacting with the company or person.
A Brand proposition is:
Clarifying what your brand stands for (not just services you do) and the level of service you provide. Also see my explanation for ‘purpose-driven statement’.
When you pre-plan what your brand represents and clarify what you stand for, how to put that across in your marketing becomes less mystical.
What is Business Marketing?
Many in the professional services think of marketing as advertising, but marketing a business is:
Putting the right MESSAGE
in front of the right PEOPLE (target clients), in the right MEDIA…
… and this activity can be paid or non-paid.
For example, you know paid advertising is SEM, radio, print ads, bus signs, etc. While free marketing is writing some targeted blog articles, being a podcast guest and highlighting what you do, speaking in public about your methods, etc.
So, say you talk at a Rotary club about your latest software for compliance, you haven’t got the right PEOPLE or the right MESSAGE. But if you gave a keynote at a Data conference about your latest software – and the attendees were all looking for software for medium businesses with this need – bingo, you have the triangle.
Common Mistakes with Marketing a Business… and their Solutions
Problem #1. They put the media first
Many business people put the Media first. So they say, I want an Instagram strategy, or I want to know how to do Facebook for business.
Instead, they (and you) should go back to your ideal client and brand positioning work and look for WHO it is you want to attract.
So for myself, my ideal client A is a business director of a professional service with one to three brands, a few staff, and $200,000 – $2 million in revenue. (For those above that level, others who have big teams are pitching that level).
Problem #2. The message is too broad
This ideal client is confused about what to write on their website (they have something, it’s just not that great) and what to put in blogs and in videos. What they have is usually bland, standard, corporate and broad. The message is too generic and offers no insight into the personality of the leaders, the ethos of the business, and the specific value they bring (through an education framework if its blogging).
They need guidance for that.
Problem #3. The media type is wrong
The director level person is really busy and does not loiter on Facebook for long. Many of the lovely people I meet on Facebook are soloists and cannot afford my services. Rats tails.
So, to reach this ideal client A, I have to know the media they use. It is likely LinkedIn and the telephone for business relationship-building. They might even listen to top podcasts on a weekend.
Yes, the humble phone is often overlooked in marketing. Relationship building with the phone is a marketing tactic. Not pitching at this stage, just asking questions and noting the answers in a CRM and perhaps offering a free booklet or someone else’s seminar.
Problem #4. Not digging into the real Client Persona
So I know their media, but now I need to create the right message. Spying (sorry, I mean researching) on people’s questions and business forum posts is getting to the real. I want to know the nitty-gritty struggles and concerns of Directors, not the shiny posts they are publicly putting out to impress their peers on LinkedIn. (Questions are put into Google and collated in online research tools).
After some research into their real struggles, I can put together CONVERSATIONAL copy for that ideal person to relate to. I might come up with some short video ads as well.
“Queensland Business” is one Facebook group which is useful for identifying business pains. At the end of the day, even Directors of million-dollar businesses need someone to listen and say “honestly here is a better way than that, have you thought of this?”
What makes a Great Marketing Offer?
As a professional services provider, once you start talking about your niche, your amazing methods and your creative ideas, it’s only a matter of ending the speech (or video or book) with a simple offer in order to capture the interest already aroused. This free content or free trial can be placed on a landing page/capture form for ease of use.
The best offers in professional services really delve into their ‘ideal’ clients most wanted answers. They have problems, you have some answers, so you must, must talk about both. Speaking in conferences, keynotes, seminars, and podcasts can have a HUGE effect if you talk about both sides of the picture (the gritty side and the after, shiny side).
A great marketing offer also has a clear customer value benefit and a deadline for taking action.
Hinge Research Institute has done some research into high-growth professional services and found that having ‘visible experts’ talking about the business brings 66% more business development benefits, e.g. they generate more leads, demand 13x higher prices, and close more in sales. Makes you think, doesn’t it?
Have you Learned ‘How to Market a Business’?
Marketing a business in professional services is not a matter of posting to Facebook daily (a common tactic). It is getting really clear answers to your ideal clients’ struggles… defining your message and brand voice… and putting those messages into the right media channels.
It is having a website portal where you educate prospective clients and offer them relevant and original FREE reports (or even video tutorials).
So, begin thinking about what value-packed offer you could have at the end of the information download offered on your website. Get ’em while they’re amazed with your work!
If you’ve enjoyed this article, then please sign up for our awesome report on building a prospect list – or just go straight to Park Lane and book a 30-minute discovery call with Jennifer.