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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Realistically, few clients hire us because they enjoy our professional services.

Most clients hire us for help in resolving problems or realizing specifically desired outcomes.

Clients really want their problems resolved or outcomes achieved as easily and with as few hassles as humanly possible.

New clients will usually consider their own resources before selecting a service professional.

To avoid paying professional fees, many clients would prefer to resolve problems on their own or with the help of employees or staff.

Unless their initiatives produce immediate results, as a second choice, they will look to us as service professionals for help.

At this point, they will have recognized that they need us to help them find a solution for their problems.

Realistically, as qualified service professionals, we are well positioned to do more for our clients than they expect or could even imagine.

The broad range of resources that we can draw upon increases the likelihood of a successful satisfying clients.

That’s quality service at its best.

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To learn more about quality service, see Chapter 3 of How To Market Professional Services.

That’s a new book, the first draft of which is currently available free … but only for a limited time.

For reasons that totally escape me, most human endeavors become more complicated than they really need to be.

This is true of attracting clients to our businesses, which is also known as marketing.

Attracting friends and being attractive to potential friends are both natural parts of life. Following conventional social norms, most of us connect with like-minded people whose company we enjoy. And whether we realize it or not, by leaving room for miracles to occur, many of us connect with truly amazing and wonderful people.

The same considerations apply to marketing, whether professional services of other ‘products’. However, sometimes we become so engaged in the task of marketing that our busy-ness leaves no room for miracles.

Here’s a very short course that will help position you to receive marketing miracles. It will only take about 10 minutes, but it must be completed without distraction or interruption. When you can arrange 15 minutes of undisturbed time…

Step 1: By way of preparation, read this short blog post about marketing clutter.

Step 2: Turn the marketing machine off completely and eliminate all sources of marketing messages.

Step 3: Take the following actions

  • take 3 deep breaths, breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth
  • open your non-dominant hand, hold the palm up
  • with the first 2 fingers of your dominant hand tap gently on the fleshy part of your dominant hand midway between the wrist and the base of your small finger
  • continuing the tapping, repeat this statement at least 3 times out loud :

“Even though I might be confused about what I am doing, I remain open to new wisdom and insights that will help me with my marketing”

  • pause…and when you are ready, take 3 deep breaths, breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth

Step 4: When you are ready, turn the marketing machine back on, setting the level no higher than ¾ capacity.

Miracles need space and time to develop and appear. If we continue the practice of going full out on marketing, we seriously limit the ability of miracles to enter our lives.

Step 5: When you experience your marketing miracle, come back to this post and tell us about it.

This helps make it real.

For best results, repeat this course whenever you feel overwhelmed by your busy-ness in any aspect of your business and life.

Even if the miracle is a well-needed break, it’s well worth the time.

In my last post, I wrote about The 3 Keys To Successfully Marketing Professional Services.

In the simplest terms, these keys are appropriate marketing know-how, attitudes and actions.

These keys are not unique to marketing professional services. They are at the core of success in every human endeavor … including the delivery of professional services.

For practical purposes, this means that if you can satisfy clients with your professional services, you can apply the marketing equivalents of know-how, attitudes and actions to attract new clients. But that’s another post for another time.

One Clearly Identifiable Factor

Reconnecting with my legal training, I am reminded of the the principle of audi alteram partem or “hear [audi] the other side too” .

This raises the question: “If appropriate know-how, attitudes and actions are the keys to successfully marketing professional services, what blocks…or gets in the way of…successful professional service marketing?”

Based on my experience, there is one clearly identifiable factor that prevents most of from achieving the success we want. This factor has nothing to do with either marketing know-how or attitudes. It is one single action, an action that we have all taken deliberately or by default.

That action? Lack of focus.

Keep Your Eye On The Ball

Not surprisingly, the same factor also serves as an obstacle to success in non-marketing and non-business situations alike.

If you have ever played a sport involving a ball, puck, or something else to be smacked or caught, you are painfully aware of the importance of ‘keeping your eye on the ball’.

We all know what happens when we take our eyes of the ball. Sometimes the outcome is simply less than satisfactory results. Other times it is a huge disappointment. And occasionally, the outcome is nothing short of a disaster.

In marketing professional services, the ball is the results we want to achieve. Whenever we allow ourselves to be distracted by the latest technological advance instead of staying the course to achieve our goals…we are taking the eye off the ball. Similarly, whenever we jump all over a new opportunity at the cost of ignoring the pursuit of our planned goals, we have lost our focus and direction.

Successfully marketing professional services is not really all that difficult. Unfortunately, like other fairly straight-forward things in life, we make it harder for ourselves than it needs to be. Instead of keeping a tight focus on achieving our set goals, we take our eyes off the ball and achieve less than satisfying results.

Now that I have identified lack of focus as the #1 obstacle, how do you keep focused on achieving your goals?

 

The lawyer who acts for himself or herself has a fool for a client.

No, that’s not a commentary on all lawyers. It’s a warning about the hazards of trying to serve yourself with your own professional services. In most cases, it just doesn’t work.

In addition to our professional training and experience, as service professionals we also bring our objectivity to the services that we deliver to clients. It is this objectivity that allows us to identify factors that are so familiar to clients that they overlook them. In most cases, these familiar factors are identify counter-productive habits and practices that prevent clients from achieving the results they want.

Having identified our clients’ counter-productive habits and practices, we then work with our clients to figure out how to change their counter-productive habits and practices. At this point, we draw upon our professional training and experience to offer alternative and more productive approaches.

Whenever we self-serve, we are like our clients whose counter-productive habits and practices are so familiar that we don’t even notice them. And since we have missed the very factors that prevent us from achieving the results we want, how can we possible develop better, more productive behaviors and habits?

In other words, is the service that you provide to yourself as good…i.e. as objective…as the professional service that you deliver to clients?

Compatibility with clients is a key element to developing and maintaining and effective relationship with them.

By sharing common values with your clients, you can truly understand their needs and wants. And by understanding these needs and wants and fully appreciate what it will take to satisfy your clients.

As part of launching any marketing initiative, clarify the kinds of clients that you want to attract and serve.

Start this clarification process with identifying those things that you value.

Once you have identified your own values, you will be in a better position to attract and serve people with who you share common values.

Qualifying clients is more than a single step in an individual transaction.

Properly handled, the process of qualifying clients can make a valuable contribution to your overall marketing plan.

It is part of the process that helps sustain the flow through your client pipeline.

Even clients’ failure to qualify offers marketing payoffs.

If prospects do not qualify—for whatever reason—it does not mean that they will never qualify.

With their permission, treat them like clients and keep in touch with them.

When they do qualify, they will probably come back to you. And if they liked the service that you provided to them, they might refer other people to you.

To learn more about the best clients for your professional services, click here.

One of the best ways of exceeding expectations is by re-framing your routinely good services as memorable experiences for your clients.

When you are good at what you do, it looks easy to do your work. And the better you become,the more routine your work appears.

While this may improve your efficiency, it also raises the very real risk of clients undervaluing your work.

To minimize, if not totally eliminate this risk, shift your clients’ attention from your efficiency to the value that they receive from your service.

The value that clients enjoy is the help they receive in making the transformation from where they are to where they want to be.

By emphasizing this transformation, you will help clients shift from perceiving your work as routine professional services to enjoying a memorable experience.