Marketing As Education

May 14, 2013

Another entry from the ‘What Is Marketing‘ Department.

In addition to attracting new clients and also your favorite definition of marketing here is another definition that you can add to the list.

Marketing is all about education. Specifically, it’s about helping five groups of people learn more about you, and how you help clients.

Helping Support Staff & Colleagues Learn

Before even thinking of telling the world about our services, make sure that everyone at home base is on the same marketing page.

Anyone and everyone who will have any client contact plays a part in our marketing. In practice, this means that it’s essential that they fully understand who we are, what we stand for and how we help clients.

As an added bonus, these people can and often do, offer helpful insights and observations that might improve the effectiveness of our marketing.

Helping Referral Sources Learn

Networking and referrals remain the major source of new clients for service professionals. This being the case, it is essential that our referral sources fully understand who we are, what we stand for and how we help clients.

It’s also essential that they understand who the kinds of clients we love to serve…our ideal clients. If they know the kinds of people we love to serve, it’s unlikely they will refer any potentially problematic clients.

Helping The Market Learn

Strange as it may appear, parts of our market remain unaware of our services and similar services of comparably qualified professionals.

This means that the starting point for marketing as education is helping the market understand not only the existence of our professionals services, but also how these services can help them make a difference in their lives.

Instead of echoing what everyone else in your industry is saying, tell your own story, which includes an introduction to your personal brand and brand promise.

Helping Potential Clients Learn

For potentially ideal clients to hire us, they must see us as likeable, competent and trustworthy.

Instead of promoting personal and professional achievements, a better approach would be to outline common problems that face people like them…and then discuss how these and similar problems were resolved. Another good place for your personal brand and brand promise.

Ideally, our marketing will help potentially ideal clients learn why we are their most logical choice as some one who can and will help them with their problems.

Helping Clients Learn

Consistently, professional services includes huge elements of helping clients learn. For the most part, this involves learning more about the technical aspects of out service.

We can also help clients learn to make the most of our help…how to get even better results from our service. Even better results will produce even more satisfied clients, which in turn will probably produce even more repeat and referral business.

For most of us, education is a critical component of our client service.

Why not also make it a key element of marketing professional services?

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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.

Like the services themselves, professional service marketing includes conversations.

In the marketing stage, these conversations are between the service professional and potential clients. The conversations serve the purpose of helping both the service provider and potential client get to know and like each other.

Among the information that service providers want to gather is what the potential client needs wants and expects.

On the other hand, potential clients will want to know how the service professional can help them.

Conversations are the ideal vehicles for service providers and potential clients to exchange this information.

Musical Conversations

In my musical immersion experience last week, I learned that the best musical performances also include engaging conversations.

Sometimes these conversations involve only the performers, with the audience looking on.

Other times, the conversations are between performers and the audience. The level of audience engagement could range from simply tapping a foot in time to the music or singing and dancing with full abandonment.

Engaged In The Conversation

Seldom are musical conversations performer monologues. By keeping in mind the musical tastes and preferences of their audience, performers can increase the audience engagement and satisfaction.

These same consideration applies equally to marketing conversations.

A monologue is a one-way conversation. In marketing, a one-way conversation is called a sales pitch.

Not only are sales pitches obstacles to good conversations, when introduced into a conversation, they can completely eliminate whatever engagement may have been created.

Successful musicians satisfy their audiences by engaging them in conversation.

Successful professional service marketing satisfies potential clients by engaging them in conversation.

And remember, satisfied potential clients are truly valuable marketing assets.