Better Than All The Rest

September 18, 2012

No one else serves clients quite like you do.

Using your own good stuff, you figure out what clients need, want and expect from you.

And then you do whatever it takes to satisfy them.

So…how does knowing how to satisfy existing clients help attract new ones?

Please tell me.

* * * * *

… so I can include your marketing success story in my new book, How To Market Professional Services.

To choose your topic, go the Table of Contents and follow the links to the draft chapters.

 

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You’re Simply The Best!

September 17, 2012

You’re among the best in your field, distinguishable from all the rest in your market.

You’ve attracted the best clients…and connected with truly helpful contacts.

What is your best marketing success story?

Please tell me … so I can include it in my new book, How To Market Professional Services.

 

To choose your topic, go the Table of Contents and follow the links to the draft chapters.

As we go about our daily activities we meet and engage with many people.

Occasionally, in conversation with a stranger, we realize that we and that person share many common interests. In cases like this, the temptation is to become totally engrossed in conversation with the friendly stranger excluding every one else. If there are no uninterested companions, there is no problem in yielding to temptation.

If, however, there are disinterested companions present, as at a social event, a better approach would be to exchange business cards and agree to chat or meet later.

It is a good idea to send a follow-up as soon as you can. This will help remind the friendly stranger of who you are and the circumstances under which you met.

Designated Networking Sessions

All business organizations and associations provide opportunities for members to interact with each other and discuss their respective businesses. As a result, they simplify the task of identifying people who can probably help.

Opportunities could arise spontaneously, like unplanned contact with friendly strangers discussed above. Like unplanned contacts with strangers, networking begins when two members of the same organization discover that they have common interests.

However, unlike the situation with at a social or non-business event, it is acceptable, even expected that you pursue areas of mutual interest with people whom you meet spontaneously at a business event.

Other situations in which like-minded people can interact with each other arise in planned activities called “networking sessions.” Normally, these sessions are separate components of regular meetings. After a preliminary activity such as a meal or speaker, the networking session begins.

Networking sessions might also be an element of another function such as a conference or seminar.

In format, these events can range all the way from totally unstructured gatherings to highly structured and very tightly controlled activities.

Unstructured Format

In an unstructured format, the chair of the meeting announces something like “It is now time for networking” and advises or instructs the participants “to network with each other.” With little, if any, further instructions, the participants are left on their own to introduce themselves to each other and discuss their respective businesses.

Unstructured gatherings are ideal for very focused and self-directed individuals. With little effort, they can connect with like-minded people and discuss mutual concerns.

Unfortunately, the same unstructured gatherings can be disastrous for less focused and self-directed people. They are more likely to be spectators at the event, watching others interact. At the end of the event, they are often left unsatisfied, still looking to meet some one who can help.

Structured Format

In a more structured format, everyone is expected to follow the instructions of the leader or facilitator.

Typically, the leader divides the large group into smaller groups either with or without specific criteria. These criteria could be business-related such as type, size, age or geographic location of business or non-business or random such as color of name tag or participants’ birthdays. The leader then gives the small groups a task to perform or a topic to discuss.

Although the small group has a specific task, its real purpose is to allow members to get to know each other, facilitating a discussion of their businesses. Ideally, this process will lead to point that individual participants can identify how they can help each other.

Structured gatherings are good for people who are more reserved in meeting others and less assertive when seeking help.

By following instructions and answering specific questions they can probably open up and discuss their businesses more easily and effectively than might otherwise be the case. Very focused and self-directed individuals are often frustrated by structured gatherings.  Instead of moving in their own direction at their own pace, they must go with the flow, patiently waiting for everyone to participate.

A brand promise is the cornerstone of branding as a professional service marketing strategy.

Properly developed and managed, the promise can generate new business and referrals from past clients.

However, poor brand development and weak business management will lead to broken promises.

Broken promises drive customers to the competition.

The Good News About Promises

By consistently providing quality service, in effect you promise that clients will continue to receive the same quality.

This promise of quality is reassuring to your clients and contacts. It increases their comfort in continuing to deal with you and also recommend potential clients to you.

Not surprisingly, this promise of quality is a key element in both your overall marketing plan.

This is the good news element of the promise: it reassures clients and contacts, which in turn will generate more business.

The Bad News About Promises

The bad news element is the all-too-familiar problem of dealing with fallout from broken promises.

Fulfilled promises-–or expectations–-are great.

Remember how eagerly you anticipated that special meal in your favorite restaurant? And how wonderful it was when the experience was even better than what you expected?

But what about when the food or service failed to met your expectations? The experience may have been so upsetting that you vowed never to go back.

Broken Promises—The Worst Case Scenario

In making promises, whether explicitly in words or implicitly through actions, you are setting standards that you must continue to meet.

As long as these standards are met, all is well.

However, once you fail to honor your promises, all hell can break loose.

Most consumers tend to be well-informed.

They know that in today’s competitive marketplace, they have many choices.

Few things annoy consumers more than broken promises. Unhappy customers can, and usually do, respond by taking their business to the competition.

Instead of happily promoting a business that has pleased them, they will joyfully badmouth one that has displeased them.

To learn more about branding as a strategy for marketing professional services, see Ignore The Myths.

For many people, their office is where they do their work.

However, for service professionals, an office is much more than just a workplace.

It’s where they meet clients and exchange the information necessary to help clients. In many cases it’s also where clients actually receive services.

Prospects, clients and contacts alike call the office to gather information on one thing or another. This information could range from general outlines of different service areas, to specific details of individual service engagements. Service professionals’ offices also provide a wide range of information related to their service areas.

The office can also provide information about availability for appointments and referrals to other service providers and businesses. It also serves as a store for professionals who provide products such as books, CD s that supplement their service.

These functions can be performed as easily, if not better, by a properly designed website as they can in a physical office staffed by real people.

If you really enjoy playing with technology, you can undertake the website design and maintenance yourself, using free or nearly free resources. But this work is largely invisible to visitors and potential clients and has limited marketing payoff for you.

A much better approach would be to limit your website involvement to doing what you do best…help visitors learn more about your professional services. Assign the development and ongoing maintenance to some one who knows as much about websites as you know about the professional service that you deliver.

To learn more, see A Website, Email & Blogging.

 

One of the best ways of exceeding expectations is by re-framing your routinely good services as memorable experiences for your clients.

When you are good at what you do, it looks easy to do your work. And the better you become,the more routine your work appears.

While this may improve your efficiency, it also raises the very real risk of clients undervaluing your work.

To minimize, if not totally eliminate this risk, shift your clients’ attention from your efficiency to the value that they receive from your service.

The value that clients enjoy is the help they receive in making the transformation from where they are to where they want to be.

By emphasizing this transformation, you will help clients shift from perceiving your work as routine professional services to enjoying a memorable experience.

Regardless of the nature of our service, we help our clients make the transformation from where they are … to where they want to be.

Wanting higher levels of happiness, health, wealth or wisdom, clients look to service professionals for help.

As advisors, coaches, consultants, or whatever else we call ourselves, we draw upon our professional training and experience to help our clients achieve the results they want.

Once clients have chosen the individual they think can best help them, they expect to achieve their desired outcomes. And for the most part, service professionals deliver as expected.

But the bad news is that meeting clients’ expectations is not always enough to ensure repeat and referral business from satisfied clients.

In order to position yourself for repeat and referral business, it’s important to exceed client expectations.

In what way do you exceed clients’ expectations by helping them complete their transformations?