Yesterday I raised the question: is your self service as good as your client service?

Strange as both the question and the timing may have seemed, it was not a random act of weirdness right out of the blue.

Last week, I had lunch with a service professional whose main business activity is helping owners of home businesses become and remain focused on achieving their goals. Instead of lunching at one of the great restaurants in her neighborhood, she requested that we get some take-out fast food and have lunch at her nearby apartment. She explained that she was feeling broke.

Over lunch she told me about the book that she had prepared over the past few months. Turns out that the book had absolutely nothing to do with her professional service. After listening to her talk about her book, I quickly realized that it’s one and only strength was her passion for the project. There was little to suggest that the book would be marketable, let alone profitable.

To make her financial situation even more problematic, a training workshop that she was planning for a social services agency was at risk of being cancelled. Like her book, this workshop was not directly related to her professional services. Although the topic was within her area of experience, the primary purpose of the workshop was generate revenue.

As an author, I certainly understand the appeal of writing about a passion. And as a speaker and trainer, I know how hard it is to resist the allure of a paid speaking gig.

However, as a coach I recognize the importance of helping clients remain focused on achieving their business goals. And as a marketing coach, my role is to help clients attract more ideal clients.

To best serve my clients, I must walk my talk. How can I be in position to help clients, encouraging them to act focused and purposefully, when in my own business I pursue whatever interest seems more relevant at the time?

If there is any good news about my friend’s situation, it’s that she is not alone. From my experience, it seems that many service professionals also act from the position of “Do As I Say, Not As I Do”.

What a disservice to their clients …and themselves.

 

 

 

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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.

Clearly, ideal clients are ready, willing and able to pay us for our help in making the changes they want.

Provided we deliver the agreed services and expected value, clients pay the fees for our services as agreed.

However, ideal clients represent much more than just a revenue source.

Carefully qualified and effectively served, they fill the role of business partners.

Market Research

All clients serve as windows on your market. Once you have attracted them as potential clients and helped them become actual clients, by duplicating the process, you can also attract other potential clients like them. Similarly, once you have satisfied individual clients, you can also satisfy others like them. After you have served clients to their satisfaction, ask them about how to connect with other people like them.

But don’t stop there. Change is a constant in today’s marketplace. The next time clients want your help they may well need something different. As part of helping them with their current issue, ask about the kinds of personal and business changes they anticipate in the next few years.

Along with providing clients with your customary high quality service, invite your clients to help with your market research. They can help you listen to your market, which in turn will help you continue to attract and serve more and better clients.

Client Seal of Approval

By hiring you, clients demonstrate that you are likable and that they consider you to be trustworthy and competent.

When you have satisfied them…or even better, exceeded their expectations and delivered a memorable experience…they will happily and voluntarily sing your praises.

In combination, these two factors represent a fabulous seal of approval for you and your services.

From a marketing perspective, your seal of approval is known as an endorsement or testimonial.

Regardless of what you call this two-factor combination, it’s a powerful combination that will help you attract more business for your business. Appropriately used, client testimonials can confirm that you are a good person with whom to do business. They are objective third party confirmation that you are likeable, trustworthy and competent, reassuring potential clients that you can help them.

New Business Catalyst

Once you have helped clients, you can probably help them again. Similarly, satisfied clients are usually happy to recommend you and refer others to you.

But repeat and referral business are not automatic; they can’t be taken for granted. To help clients act as catalysts for new business, we have to keep in touch with them on a regular basis. This will help remind them of how we helped them in the past and that we remain ready, willing and able to help them and other people like them.

Professional Skills Practice and Improvement

The world’s best musicians practice their skills every day. Louis Armstrong once explained that if he didn’t practice for one day, he knew it. If he missed two days’ practice, the critics knew it. And if he missed practicing for three days, the public knew it.

As service professionals few of us need to practice our skills daily. On the other hand, we are subject to the ‘use-it or lose-it’ phenomenon. The longer we go without using our skills, the less effective we become.

In serving clients, we have the opportunity to practice our professional skills. And the more we practice our skills, the better we become at using them. And as we get better at what we do, we also improve our ability to attract new clients.

To learn more about ideal clients, see Ideal Clients Do More Than Pay The Bills.

Professional services are not standardized mass-produced items.

Nor are they objective scientific processes that will generate identical results each and every time they are applied.

Professional Services Are Unique

The services that you…I …and all other professionals deliver are unique, each and every time we serve individual clients.

And therein lies the biggest challenge for every one involved in professional service marketing whether service professionals themselves…or those of us who help professionals market their services.

There is no one-size-fits-all marketing solution for all service professionals, let alone for those of us who provide services virtually identical to those of our competitors.

In offering our assistance to potential clients, we offer our own unique combination of personality, skills and resources. Hopefully our ideal clients will recognize something in this combination that will be of genuine value to them.

In serving our clients, we draw upon whatever is available to help satisfy them. In some cases, it might be our reassuring personalities. In others it might be something from our professional training and experience. And in still others, it might be a referral to one of our network contacts.

In an ideal world, once we had satisfied a client with our service, we could duplicate the service to satisfy other similar clients. Having documented our steps in serving the client, would give the process a fancy name and archive it for future use with another client.

Similar In Nature, Different In Scope

Unfortunately, we don’t live in an ideal world.

Future clients might need some of the same kinds of services that we just completed. Or maybe they need something similar in nature but different in scope.

Realistically, seemingly similar clients can and usually do have different needs, wants and expectations.

From a marketing perspective, how can we help individual prospects understand that our professional services can and help them satisfy their needs?

In other words, how do we successfully meet the biggest challenge of marketing professional services?

Whether online or offline, most people have friends who help others by skillfully applying their professional services.

Helping Others

Personally, I have used my professional training and experience to help others for my entire career. It’s been a joy…I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

From my experience, most other service professionals also love using their training and experience to help others solve problems or otherwise bring about changes in their lives. And like anyone who loves what they do, they are very good at it.

On the other hand, few service professionals enjoy marketing; and fewer still are good at it.

At this stage of my career, my focus is applying my experience to help service providers with their marketing.

One component of this service area is an marketing performance assessment. This online assessment is free to any and all service professionals.

In a nutshell, the assessment will help service professionals evaluate the overall effectiveness of their marketing. This will help them identify opportunities for improvement, which in turn will help them attract more of their ideal clients.

The assessment can be found here: Marketing Performance Assessment.

Help Wanted

But I need the help of friends like you, to tell your professional friends about the assessment.

By telling your professional friends about the assessment, you are helping them…and that’s what friends do for each other. Specifically, you are helping them by offering them the opportunity to improve their marketing.

By improving their marketing their marketing, they can attract more clients…whom they can help with their professional service.

So there it is. This post is about me helping my friends (people like you) help their friends (service professionals) help others (new clients).

Telling your friends about the assessment is really easy:

  • tell your professional friends about this post by sending them this short link: http://wp.me/p1Y8J1-i7
  • on Twitter, retweet this post
  • on Facebook, like this post
  • on LinkedIn, share this post

Thank you in advance for your helping me help your other friends. I appreciate it.

But it’s a fabulous way to develop and maintain relationships, including marketing-related connections.

Yesterday a Facebook friend posed an interesting question. In her post, she commented that 95% of her FB friends were people who ran small businesses … but her warm and fuzzy posts received most of the comments.

The Disconnect

At first glance, this seems like a strange disconnect. Since most of her FB friends run their own small businesses, one would expect that small business related comments would generate the most interest and discussion.

No doubt her friends have their own reasons for commenting on warm and fuzzy posts but remaining silent on small business posts.

The disconnect however arises more from the nature of Facebook than from the nature of the posts.

All social media, including Facebook, make it easier for us to connect with like-minded people. It’s like dropping by our favourite coffee shop and meeting new people.

As part of getting to know new people, we tend to focus more on sharing and chatting about personal elements (the warm & fuzzies) than promoting our businesses. When we start to shift the conversation to our businesses, others will try to change the topic back to a more personal, less business-focused topic.

Building Relationships

By keeping the conversation on a more personal level, we can start to build relationships with our new friends. And as these relationships develop, our new friends will continue to like and trust us.

Once people like and trust us, when and if they need our help they will contact us.

In my FB friend’s case, her warm and fuzzy posts help build and maintain relationships with her online friends. In effect, the posts make my friend more likable and trustworthy to her online friends.

It is this likeability and trustworthiness that will attract new business.

Like my friend, we should all be using Facebook to develop and maintain relationships with our friends. This is the best … and indeed only … way to attract more and better clients.