Last week’s blog Best Professional Service Marketing Strategies could be considered the marketing application of the ‘Less-Is-More‘ principle.

Based on a survey asking over 10,000 consultants how they marketed their services, the post identified networking and referrals as the source of most money. These strategies are just two of 13 identified marketing activities.

Consistent with the the ‘Less-Is-More‘ principle, 78% of respondents reported spending less than $6000 on marketing each year.

Focus On What Generates The Most Revenue

The lesson here is to focus resources on those strategies that generate the most revenue.

Another key finding of the survey addresses clients served and the fee average fee revenue that they generate.

Once again, consistent with the ‘Less-Is-More‘ principle 87% of respondents report working with fewer than 20 clients each year.

But these clients pay well: 93% of responding consultants report average the first time fee from new clients to be more than $500, with 61% reporting these fees to be greater than $2000.

Applying The Insights

For the sake of completeness, 68% of respondents typically charge on a monthly or project basis.

As a model for marketing all professional services, this survey offers two great insights.

In terms of marketing our services, the best approach is to narrow the focus to those strategies that work best for us…probably networking and referrals. But keep in mind that the other 11 strategies can support primary strategies.

Similarly, instead of trying to help everyone who could conceivably benefit from your assistance, focus on serving and satisfying a few ideal clients.

Ideal clients truly appreciate the value that you deliver…and are prepared to pay the higher fees that you charge and deserve.

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As service professionals, we tend to rely more on our experience and intuition than objective research. This really isn’t surprising: few of us have the resources to undertake serious research. For most of us, our research is seldom more than a quick scan of blogs and online posts.

Whenever I come across some sound research that is interesting, and even better, relevant to my work, it’s definitely worth a serious review.

Yesterday this happy circumstance popped up on my computer screen.

Marketing Trends And Strategies For Consultants

Marketing trends and strategies for consultants  surveyed the types of marketing activities on which consultants spend their time. It also compared how the time spent resulted in income. If you are serious about marketing more effectively and efficiently, this report is a must-read.

From my perspective, the most reassuring finding of the report confirms several of my experience and intuitive based beliefs.

I have always believed and continue to believe that networking and referrals are the two best marketing strategies for service professionals. The survey results indicate that 70% of the respondents report these two strategies have made the most money for their businesses.

Time & Money Spent

Given the importance of these strategies, it’s not surprising that the respondents also report spending 57% of their time on these activities. Obviously, it makes sense to spend most of your marketing time on those activities that generate the best results.

There are a couple of other interesting findings.

The report indicates that the third highest amount of respondents’ time is devoted to the marketing activity that is the third lowest money-making strategy.

In numerical terms, 10% of the respondents spend the most time on social media, which only 2% of the consultants report as having generated the most money. Not sure about you, but I’ve come to believe that social media can consume a ton of time while generating generally unsatisfactory results.

The survey also asked about money spent on marketing each year. Once again, no big surprise here.

Of the more than 10,000 consultants surveyed, 78% reported spending less than $6000 each year.

Regardless of whether or not you are a consultant, the same considerations apply to your marketing.

How can you spend your marketing time and budget to generate the most money for your business?

 

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.

In networking, as in most aspects of life, the more you give, the more you get back.

In practice, this means giving as much to your network contacts as you give to your ideal clients. Give them information that will help them improve their personal and business lives. And introduce them individually and collectively to others with whom they can develop mutually beneficial relationships.

In helping your network contacts, you are enhancing your relationships with them. Invariably the return on the investment in enhancing relationships is increased help and support coming back to you.
To learn more about maintaining a network of personal contacts, see: Your Personal Network Is Your Extended Support Team

 

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!

The Marketing Muddle

July 24, 2012

Whenever I conduct a marketing training event, I enjoy asking the question: “What is marketing?

After a short pause while participants collect their thoughts, the responses begin.

Invariably advertising, promotion and sales are among the first answers. The come terms like networking, direct contact, referrals, and keeping in touch. Internet-savvy participants offer up website, email, blog and social media.

A little prodding helps generate concepts like research and communications.

My pleasure comes when I advise the group that all of the answers are correct…but they all are also wrong.

All of the responses are correct in that each is an element of marketing.

However, they are all wrong because marketing is more than the sum of its parts.

As a planned activity, marketing was initially developed to help dairy farmers sell more cheese.

Since then it has become the tool of choice for virtually everyone from the neighbor staging a yard sale to the world’s largest business and non-business organizations.

Along with the information explosion generated by computer and Internet technology, there has also been what might be called the marketing muddle.

To learn more, see I Am A Professional!