Here’s a quick question for you. When a client asks for your help with a specific problem, what is the best response?

Obviously the nature of the response depends upon the nature of the problem.

Urgent issues require immediate attention: prevent the situation from worsening and reassure the client that you can and will help resolve the issue.

The Best Response

However, once the urgency has been resolved, what is the next best response? Thank the clients for the opportunity of helping them and send them on their way?

What about helping clients take appropriate actions to prevent the recurrence of the same or similar issues? That would be a good approach to satisfy clients even more by exceeding their expectations.

An even better approach would be to help the client resolve the problem in such a way that both addresses any urgency in the situation and also makes the best possible contribution to helping the client achieve his goals.

More Revenue And Achieve Goals

Many service professionals experience a sense of urgency in their marketing.

They need more revenue…and they want it now. So they instinctively start looking for new clients to generate the new revenue they need. Once they have rounded up enough new business to reduce the urgency of needing revenue…problem solved. Back to business as usual: serving clients.

What about taking appropriate actions to reduce if not eliminate the recurrence of recurrence of urgent cash flow issues?

Or even better, what about addressing the need for more revenue in such a way that resolves the problem in such a way that addresses the urgency of the situation and also makes the best possible contribution to achieving business goals?

Whenever we face cash flow crunches, many of us instinctively we react by starting the hunt for new clients. Lost in this knee-jerk reaction to stop the pain is the bigger picture importance of achieving our goals.

Yet another example of the productive tension of marketing professional services, a pressing need for new revenue also offers the opportunity to help us achieve our overall goals.

Just like helping clients with their issues, it’s a whole lot more than just making the problem go away.

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In my last blog post, I outlined how marketing as education can help five different groups learn more about us and our services.

Even though this post was intended as a stand-alone piece, it also serves as another example of the productive tension of marketing.

An Aversion To Marketing

On the one hand there is the ongoing need for continuous marketing activities, this time in the form of educating strangers and contacts.

But on the other hand, there is an ongoing aversion to marketing. It’s also possible that this aversion appears even worse by the suggestion of adding educational elements to professional service marketing.

For many service professionals, there is a huge disconnect between serving clients and marketing their services (aka the productive tension of marketing).

For these people, adding education to the marketing mixture serves to increase the tension: “What! You want me to educate strangers? That’s what I do for paying clients!”

It’s Not ‘Either/Or’–It’s ‘Both/And’

The key to effectively managing the productive tension of marketing is understanding that it is not an ‘either/or’ scenario. It is not necessary to choose either marketing or client service.

It is ‘both/and‘: we can both serve clients and also market our services.

What’s even better is that education is the ideal approach to engage in both marketing and client service.

In the simplest of terms, there are two key aspects of education, which is about helping others learn.

One aspect is generating new information. The other is applying this new information to solve a problem or make a difference.

This distinction suggests the ideal ‘both/and‘ solution for applying education for both marketing and client service purposes.

Learning New Information And Applying It

For marketing purposes, we can offer new information, much like I am doing in this blog post.

What new information can you incorporate into your marketing?

When serving clients, as professionals we help them learn how they can apply new information to help them with their specific problems or make a difference in their lives.

Continuing to use this blog post as an example, I would help clients understand how to use marketing as education in such a way that both distinguishes them from the competition and helps attract new clients.

How can you help clients learn to apply the new information that was part of your marketing message?

Managing the productive tension of marketing is a fairly straightforward process. Let’s not make it more difficult than it needs to be.

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