On Monday, I wrote about clearing the decks as a great start to 2013.

In response, Todd Bonner of MEP Engineering commented:

“Believe it or not, Larry, I have been thinking a great deal about this subject over the past couple of months. Bound up in this discussion is the proverbial “shiny new thing” syndrome that dissipates focus and leaves most initiatives incomplete. I deal with this on a daily basis on personal and business fronts. It seems that creativity and easy distraction do go hand in hand, unfortunately.”

Funny thing happened on the way to developing this post based on Todd’s comment.

When I reread my Monday post, I found myself somewhat puzzled by my own words: “…when one of my new initiatives crashed sooner than expected.” I was at a momentary loss trying to remember what initiative had crashed. This was surprising because I have been blessed with a very good memory.

It was only when I consciously worked through what I did on the weekend that I was able to remember what had crashed. Oh yeah…that idea. It was a spur-of-the-moment kind of thing based on an item that flashed past my eyes on the computer screen.

How important was the idea if I had forgotten about it three days after an incidental mention it? Obviously not a critical element of either my business or marketing planning.

This in turn raises the question of how relevant is the proverbial “shiny new thing” to your ultimate marketing or business success? Obviously some new things help us become healthier, wealthier and/or wiser. But my sense is that most new things are little more than energy-draining distractions.

Which leads to the second part of Todd’s comment:

“My takeaways from the article?

“(1) Follow your lead and focus in on two highest-yield social platforms for B2B while ignoring the 100 other possible platforms, and

“(2) put all remaining effort into developing consistent, authentic and valuable MEP Engineering related blog content to engage potential clients. If that’s all we “get done” in 2013, I believe we will be in good shape.”

Assuming by social platforms, Todd means social media applications such as LinkedIn and Facebook, I couldn’t agree more with his takeaway (1).

For all businesses, including service professionals, social media marketing supplements traditional marketing such as networking, referrals and keeping in touch. Messing around on more than two social media applications will drain a lot of time and energy with virtually no payback.

As for takeaway (2), Todd has nailed the keys to effective blogging: consistent, authentic and valuable.

Ensuring that our blogs meet these three criteria will help ensure that we will be in good shape for 2013.

Thanks Todd…good comment.

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So many factors contribute to successfully marketing professional services that it’s virtually impossible for any one of us to achieve our goals alone. A good personal network,or support team, will help us source the information and people we need to succeed in marketing our professional services.

In selecting team members, consider as broad a range of people as possible. Remember that to help you, your contacts need not be marketing experts, nor must they be knowledgeable about the professional service that you provide.

The only criterion that they must meet is knowing people whom you do not know.

There is a clear role for potential and active clients on your team. As noted below, these people can serve as windows on your market and also generate referrals.

The actual number of potential and active clients in your personal network depends upon your individual situation and circumstances. Unless individuals can make a significant contribution to your overall marketing effort, it’s better to include them in your keeping in touch strategy (Chapter 16) than as members of your personal network.

Everyone has an existing network of personal contacts. As well as family and friends, these people include:

  • business associates
  • current and past clients and suppliers
  • members of the same clubs and organizations as you
  • members of your religious or ethnic community
  • co-workers from previous jobs
  • your health care professionals or legal or financial advisor
  • people you met at conferences, conventions and on holidays
  • teachers, professors and instructors from school and other training activities
  • former classmates

According to British anthropologist Robin Dunbar, 150 individuals is the maximum number with whom we can maintain authentic relationships. This would be a good upper limit to the size of your support team. Included in this number would be your marketing dream team (Chapter 9) and colleagues or referral partners (Chapter 15).

Excluded from this list would be the list of people with whom you are keeping in touch, such as past and potential clients, and also your social media connections, friends and followers.

Speaking of social media, high volume applications such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter can help you find and reconnect with long lost personal contacts.

To learn more about building your extended support team, click here.

 

Each in its own way, the following strategies will help you connect with potentially ideal clients.

These strategies can also be effectively applied offline and online.

Networking

Through a planned networking program, you can add people you know to your marketing activities. Since they know people you don’t know, your network contacts can connect you with people who need your help.

Thanks to the Internet in general and social media in particular, you can extend your network of contacts beyond the people whom you meet in person.

Direct Contact

Provided you act professionally and avoid SPAM, there is no reason that you can’t reach out and connect with specific individuals. This focused outreach will help you add key contacts to your network and start to build relationships with people who might need your help.

Referrals & Recommendations

The best source of new business, referrals & recommendations can generate a sustainable flow of people with whom you enjoy or can develop sound business relationships. For best results, you will need a system to ensure that you capitalize on every opportunity.

Keeping In Touch

New clients represent more than simply the fees from the initial engagement. During the time that they continue to do business with you, they can generate a significant amount of income (their lifetime value) by hiring you again and also referring others to you.

To maximize this lifetime value, it’s necessary to keep in touch with clients, contacts and any one else who can help you attract and serve clients.

Writing For Publication & Public Speaking

Few things will position you as an expert in your field better than these two activities. This is show & tell marketing at its best. In practice this means, instead of telling prospective clients how competent and trustworthy you are…you show them.

To learn more, see I Am A Professional!

 

 

These relationships do more than distinguish professional services from standardized commodities. They also help align professional service marketing with the contemporary belief that marketing is more about developing relationships than promoting goods and services.

Businesses use a variety of marketing communications to connect with potential consumers of goods and services. Once a connection has been made, the next step is to engage interested consumers in some kind of a process leading to the decision to purchase a specific product or service.

This engagement becomes a relationship between a business and potential consumers interested in the goods or services that the business supplies. This relationship helps the business learn more about what the potential consumer need, want and expect. It also helps potential consumers understand how the business can help them.

In practice, this relationship takes the form of a conversation between the business and its interested consumers.

Ta da…there it is: the alignment between marketing as building relationships and professional service marketing. And what an alignment it is. It’s a perfect match.

The Marketing Conversation

What is a marketing conversation to many other businesses, is the same as the first stage of getting to know our professional service clients.

Following this approach allows us to see marketing in a whole new light.

Instead of struggling to understand conventional marketing concepts like advertising, promotion and sales, we can do what we do well: interact with people who need our help. We simply start the conversation, ideally as soon as connect with potentially ideal clients.

As an added bonus, the relationship-focused approach narrows your marketing challenge to just one: connecting with potentially ideal clients.

And this is where five basic marketing strategies, which might be called the professional service marketing mix, come into play. These strategies include:

  • networking
  • direct contact
  • referrals and
  • keeping in touch

To learn more, see I Am A Professional!