In today’s quickly changing digital age, what’s the best way to generate new business for your professional services business?

Is it jumping onto the the technology bandwagon and adding as many digital marketing bells and whistles as possible?

Or is continuing to practice the basics of marketing professional services: networking and referrals?

While you ponder theses questions, allow me to share a couple of stories.

Once Upon a Time…

Once upon a time, the concept of marketing professional services was not widely recognized. It was during that period of time that I started my own law practice in a community that was fairly new to me.

Not only were there no marketing resources available, there was no time to look for them even if they existed. I needed clients and I needed them fast. So I did what lawyers before me and other professionals like me did: I met as many strangers as possible.

These strangers became friends and acquaintances who soon started to make referrals to me.

Happily once these referrals became satisfied clients, they too began to refer their friends and acquaintances. And so my practice grew.

Now, the marketing term for getting to know as many people as possible would be networking.

Using LinkedIn

Fast forward to today. As I write this, I am working on a new project to be launched in the immediate future. In order for this project to succeed, I need to meet a whole lot of new people who can help me with its development and attracting clients. Using LinkedIn, I have identified and am connecting with over 100 potentially helpful strangers.

The process of identifying and connecting with potentially helpful strangers is also called networking.

From my perspective, networking today is so much faster, easier and more effective than the approach that professionals applied so many years ago. Instead of traveling to and from mutually convenient meeting places, today’s connections are made through social media such as LinkedIn. And no longer limited by geographic boundaries, we are free to connect with like-minded people wherever they may be.

And the Answer Is…

Returning now to the original question, clearly the best way to generate new business is to practice the basics of marketing professional services: networking and referrals. Today’s digital marketing tools and resources do not replace the basics, they allow us to connect with more people, more easily.

To learn more about networking, see Your Personal Network Is Your Extended Support Team – You and Your Contacts Help Each Other Succeed and Social Networking for Professionals – How Your Contacts Can Help Grow Your Business.

To learn more about referrals, see How to Generate More Referrals – Implement a Referral System

Over the past few months, there has been a shift in my professional service marketing.

To be perfectly honest, this shift has not been the result of a strategically carefully thought-through decision.

Following My Heart

In fact, the shift arose from my actions following my heart … and not my head. Instead of following the advice of high profile marketing authorities, I found myself pulled back to the work that gave me the greatest pleasure.

Back in the Spring, I concluded that social media was the best approach to take in marketing my coaching services. Based on my research, blogging and LinkedIn were the most appropriate tools for me. So I wrote blogs, up to five each week. I also engaged in LinkedIn discussions, trying valiantly to offer 10 comments of value each day. That was a great process that resulted in connections with some fine, like-minded people.

Mining The Archives

In many cases, my blog posts were based on archived material that I had written for one purpose or another. Mining my archives for nuggets of useful blog material, led to the realization that I had a ton of good content tucked away. Instead of allowing this content to linger in archives, why not bring this material back to life, refresh it and then consolidate it in a book?

Writing is one of my true passions in life. By writing, I mean books of 50,000 words or more…not 140 character tweets.

In June, I joyfully started working on my latest book How to Market Professional Services, the first draft of which was completed in late September. The book was initially conceived as quick-read e-book intended for use a marketing tool.

A 7-Part Experiential Learning System

As often happens when writing books, this one took on a life of its own. It has now evolved into what I am calling ‘a seven-part experiential learning system’. One of the parts is an accompanying workbook to help readers personalize and apply concepts from the book. Now half finished, the workbook will be completed by Christmas.

In following my heart, there have been a number of happy outcomes. My work has never been easier: developing each and every aspect of this ever-growing project has been like picking low-hanging fruit. It’s been easy and satisfying. And just as gratifying, the people and resources that I need to make this project real arrive when I want them, sometimes without my even realizing I need them.

Walking The Talk

From the perspective of marketing professional services, I am now walking the talk.

As service professionals, successful marketing is based on doing what we love to do and using our best stuff to connect with potentially ideal clients. Success does not come from following a standardized formula, nor does it come from doing what other people think we should do. I’m doing less with social media and more with writing.

Among other things, I love to write books … and consider my writing gift as an element of my best stuff.

I’m delighted to be walking the talk of professional service marketing. And equally happy that I will soon have another bundle of resources to help service professionals attract more and better clients.

 

 

A forum to discuss and share the best practices for marketing professional services.

Not only is that the description for my new LinkedIn group,  it’s my vision for what I want it to be.

This group is one of two marketing initiatives that I launched last Friday (May 18, 2012).

The other initiative is 8 Simple Steps to Successful Social Media Marketing, a Facebook page.

Similar in nature, these initiatives had dramatically different outcomes.

1. LinkedIn Group

As I said earlier, my intention for this group is to create a forum to discuss and share the best practices for marketing professional services.

To grow this group, I invited all of my 514 LinkedIn connections to join the group. To this point, just over 20% of these people have accepted my invitation. There are now 105 members.

If you are interested, feel free to join the group. Happy to welcome interested new members.

2. Facebook Group

My intention for the Facebook group was to create a forum to discuss social media marketing, loosely based on the contents of my free e-book, 8 Simple Steps to Successful Social Media Marketing.

To grow this page, I invited my 624 Facebook friends to check out this page. Two friends liked the page. (I have unfriended one of these people. Her ‘like’ was accompanied with a demand that I like her page in return. Not only did I not like … in the true sense of the word…either her demand or the page itself, her business has absolutely no relevance to mine, or vice versa.)

Now here is a question for you: Why would two similar groups have such dramatically different outcomes?

Yesterday, I reached a milestone in my social media marketing program.

I am now connected to more than 500 other LinkedIn users.

Obviously, I did not achieve this milestone alone.

More than 500 LinkedIn users either accepted my invitation to join my network …or extended an invitation for me to join their networks.

To each and every one of my LinkedIn connections: thank you. I value your connection.

I would like my LinkedIn connections join me in marking this 500 connection milestone.

Specifically, I would like to help with your marketing.

Here`s what I have in mind:

At this point, I can accommodate 10 more coaching clients.

To thank my LinkedIn connections, I will:

  • reserve these coaching slots for the first 10 of my LinkedIn connections who sign up for marketing coaching
  • reduce coaching fees for these connections by 50%

My LinkedIn profile outlines the coaching on demand and ongoing coaching services that I offer.

If you want more and better clients, but aren’t sure about marketing coaching, let’s chat.

Maybe I can help…maybe I can’t. The best way to find out is for us to talk about your biggest marketing issues…and my suggestions for resolving them. No cost or obligation; consider it my thank you for connecting on LinkedIn.

If you neither want nor need focused coaching right now. That`s fine.

I’d be happy to help with your most pressing marketing issue. Once again, there will be no cost or obligation. It’s my thanks for your LinkedIn connection.

Whether to discuss coaching or get help with a marketing issue, contact me directly through LinkedIn.

Now…what are you working on that I can help you with?

Let’s start the conversation. As Fraser Crane would say: I’m listening.

I once had a lawyer friend who used to say that he loved practising law…it was clients that he didn’t like.

Certainly as a practising lawyer, I had my share of clients I didn’t like. After a particularly frustrating experience with one particular client, I decided that I did not want to deal with anyone like her…ever again!

This led to the insight of how to balance individuals’ right to counsel with my own right to peace of mind.

Agreeing that everyone had a right to have a lawyer, I added the disclaimer that the lawyer didn’t have to be me.

I started to decline accepting as clients people I didn’t think I’d like.

Having spent the past couple of weeks immersed in social media posts, I am reminded of my lawyer friend’s comments… and my own experience …of not liking clients.

Engaging Relationships

Social media applications like Facebook and LinkedIn offer businesses the opportunity to connect directly with potential clients.

In effect, this means we can use our social media resources to listen to what prospective clients are saying and engage them in conversations. By engaging prospective clients in conversation, we develop relationships that can ultimately lead to these people becoming revenue-producing clients.

Remember …if people like us, they might do business with us; if they don’t, they won’t.

If ever there was an excellent vehicle for showcasing our likeability…its social media.

The True Value of Social Media

Unfortunately, too many businesses miss the true value of social media marketing.

Instead of making mutually beneficial connections, these businesses use social media marketing to continue the same old annoying…and largely ineffective…promotional techniques.

They promote how good they and their services are …or at least think they are.

Frequently, they shout the same thing…over …and over..and over again.

Ignoring the needs, wants and interests of perspective clients, their posts are little more than self-serving promotional pitches.

Regardless of the actual words used, the message is the same: I don’t care about you. I only care about you buying from me.

Actions speak louder than words. Many social media posts send the message that the posting businesses neither understand nor particularly like their prospective clients.

If People Like Us…

Certainly these businesses have the right to post whatever messages they choose, provided of course that their posts comply with terms and conditions of whatever social media they use.

However, as consumers we all have the right to ignore posts…and the businesses … we don’t like.

The moral of this post?

If people like us, they might do business with us; if they don’t, they won’t.

Whether online or offline, most people have friends who help others by skillfully applying their professional services.

Helping Others

Personally, I have used my professional training and experience to help others for my entire career. It’s been a joy…I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

From my experience, most other service professionals also love using their training and experience to help others solve problems or otherwise bring about changes in their lives. And like anyone who loves what they do, they are very good at it.

On the other hand, few service professionals enjoy marketing; and fewer still are good at it.

At this stage of my career, my focus is applying my experience to help service providers with their marketing.

One component of this service area is an marketing performance assessment. This online assessment is free to any and all service professionals.

In a nutshell, the assessment will help service professionals evaluate the overall effectiveness of their marketing. This will help them identify opportunities for improvement, which in turn will help them attract more of their ideal clients.

The assessment can be found here: Marketing Performance Assessment.

Help Wanted

But I need the help of friends like you, to tell your professional friends about the assessment.

By telling your professional friends about the assessment, you are helping them…and that’s what friends do for each other. Specifically, you are helping them by offering them the opportunity to improve their marketing.

By improving their marketing their marketing, they can attract more clients…whom they can help with their professional service.

So there it is. This post is about me helping my friends (people like you) help their friends (service professionals) help others (new clients).

Telling your friends about the assessment is really easy:

  • tell your professional friends about this post by sending them this short link: http://wp.me/p1Y8J1-i7
  • on Twitter, retweet this post
  • on Facebook, like this post
  • on LinkedIn, share this post

Thank you in advance for your helping me help your other friends. I appreciate it.

As part of implementing my social media marketing plan, I am increasing my online audience.

In preparation for this process, I have updated my LinkedIn profile.

Number 1

With 4 social media applications, a website and blog, updating my profile is a common and generally unwelcome process.

Although I remain proud of my achievements and experience, I really don`t enjoy continuously putting a new spin on what seems like the same old, same old to me.

Happily, this time around, near instant feedback told me that I was on the right track.

As you are no doubt aware, LinkedIn offers search capability comparable to Google. When I searched the keyword that best describes my market niche…professional service marketing…I was delighted to see my profile as Number 1 of 847,076 results. Sweet!

With my new profile in place, the next step was to invite my email contacts who were not yet LinkedIn connections to become part of my network. To this point 66 contacts have accepted my invitation.

The Best Part

After accepting my invitation, one of these contacts referred me to a fascinating YouTube video.

And another person wanted to discuss a couple of consulting engagements in which he thought I could help.

It`s always gratifying to see a plan generating its intended results.

The intended results from social media marketing include

  1. increasing my online profile
  2. accessing useful information and
  3. attracting new business opportunities.

So far so good…now I just have to continue to trust the process and stay the course.

On another note, check out my new LinkedIn profile: http://ca.linkedin.com/in/larryeasto

At the very least, it is an example of a profile that LinkedIn considers 100% complete.

And if you like what you see…feel free to add me to your network. I will accept your invitation so we can exchange useful information.

Without a doubt, social media has changed the way Internet-savvy people interact with each other.

Like-minded service professionals can connect on LinkedIn and exchange useful information.

Facebook offers a fast and easy vehicle for sharing our ideas, insights and observations.

Using Twitter, we can quickly post short instant updates on what we are doing or thinking.

YouTube offers the opportunity to present a shortened online version of your latest workshop or training event.

These social media applications … and countless others … share one significant characteristic: they all help us connect with other people.

Offering new ways of connecting with others, social media also represent exciting new potential for professional service marketing.

Marketing is all about attracting new clients … or repeat business from existing clients.

The key to successfully attracting new clients is to connect effectively with the sources of new business: existing clients, potential clients and referral sources.

Social media marketing enables us to connect with more of these sources … faster …. easier … and less expensively than ever before.

To learn how social media marketing connectors compare with their conventional offline marketing and Internet marketing counterparts, see Marketing Connectors.

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