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!

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First, there were 4 Ps in the marketing mix:

  1. Product: what you sell which paradoxically includes professional services
  2. Price: how much you charge for your product
  3. Place: where you sell your product
  4. Promotion: how you promote your product

The 5th P of Marketing

Then some one added a 5th P: People

This addition makes sense. People are the most important element of marketing.

It is after all people who plan, prepare and implement marketing activities.

From the client perspective, from individuals to large impersonal organizations, it is people who are sufficiently motivated by the marketing process to make the decision to purchase professional service from us.

3 More Ps

In an already crowded marketing mix, we can now add 3 more Ps: Pull, Push & Permission Marketing

Basically, pull marketing involves posting an ad with the purpose of pulling or drawing prospects to you. Typically applied to online advertisements, this concept can also apply to offline advertising.

The purpose of your website or blog is to pull prospects to you, to qualify them as prospects and identify how you can help them.

Push marketing on the other hand is about pushing your message directly to the prospects, usually by email. Newsletters and special promotions push your message at prospects, clients and network contacts. Hopefully they will like what you are telling them enough to contact you for further information.

For those of us who hate SPAM, permission marketing is the brightest light on the horizon. The basic concept of this approach is that you can only email electronic e-mail to those people who have agreed to let you do so. I only wish the same provisions were applicable and enforceable for telemarketers and door-to-door canvassers.

8 Ps In The Marketing Pot

So with all of these Ps in the marketing pot, what does it all mean for those of us who just want more clients for our professional services?

It seems to me that if we stick to the basics, the issues swirling in a pot of Ps will sort themselves out.

If for example, we consider the basic purpose of marketing to be attracting more and better clients, (which includes repeat clients), the Ps will take care of themselves.

If we offer a product, that people…including corporate types…are prepared to buy at our suggested price, we are almost halfway there.

In order to promote the benefits of our product, we must go to the online or offline places where we can connect with prospective clients. Some promotional initiatives will be intended to pull prospective clients to us, while others will be intended to push our message at prospective clients and referral sources, provided of course, we have their permission to send our messages to them.

There you have it…the 8 Ps of attracting more and better clients.