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?

 

Advertisements

Like many service professionals, Martha’s marketing performance assessment is a mixture of factors that are good, bad and just plain ugly.

One good features are that she has continued to operate her business for 14 years. During this time, she has developed a track record of serving clients and connecting with like-minded business contacts. She also has a data base of almost 500 contacts.

From the bad feature column, she reports that she keeps in touch with with these contacts and past clients ‘once in a while’. Apart from seldom used Facebook and LinkedIn accounts, social media does not play a role in her marketing.

That’s a problem: it seriously limits her ability to generate repeat business from satisfied clients and referrals from contacts and past clients alike. It also prevents her from connecting with that huge portion of the market that uses social media to start the search for professional services.

The really ugly factor is that Martha seems to have lost touch with her market and her clients. The assessment includes questions about clients’ needs,wants and expectations, as well as market conditions such as competitors and shifting market conditions. Consistently her answers to these questions were either to repeat marketing copy or simply, ‘I don’t know’.

Martha’s major marketing challenge is to reconnect with her market and her clients, probably making more effective use of social media.

At a deeper level, it seems to me that Martha has lost interest in her business. If this is in fact the case, the biggest issue to address is how serious she is about investing resources in re-energizing the business.

Fortunately, we have a coaching session scheduled for tomorrow. At that time, I will initiate discussion to help assess her current level of interest in her business.

Based on my summary of Martha’s situation, what questions would you want to ask her?

Post your questions in the comment box below and I’ll try to work them into the conversation.

* * * *

To complete your own marketing performance assessment, click here.

<<intro

Part 3 >>

*****

Are you a certified coach or financial advisor?

Check out  another benefit of certification.

*****

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.

Among its many benefits, social media serve as excellent listening posts for monitoring the online conversations of your market.

Unfortunately too many business people use social media for pitching their products and telling the world what they think. Few social media users appreciate the potential of social media as a window on their market.

There are two main ways in which you can use social media as a listening post.

One is to monitor discussions that relate to your professional services and target market. Don’t worry about what appears to be an overwhelming volume of discussions and comments. It won’t take long to realize that most of this online discussion is little more than banal drivel. The gems of wisdom will invariably burble to the top.

Second, you can start new conversations and pay close attention to whatever responses you get. You can learn a lot about how others respond to your input.

Once you have learned what your market is saying, your online conversations will help you build the kinds of relationships that will lead to new business. Adding value will help develop and enhance these relationships.

But first, you must listen to what the market is telling you.

To learn more about listening to your market, click here.

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!

I once had a lawyer friend who used to say that he loved practising law…it was clients that he didn’t like.

Certainly as a practising lawyer, I had my share of clients I didn’t like. After a particularly frustrating experience with one particular client, I decided that I did not want to deal with anyone like her…ever again!

This led to the insight of how to balance individuals’ right to counsel with my own right to peace of mind.

Agreeing that everyone had a right to have a lawyer, I added the disclaimer that the lawyer didn’t have to be me.

I started to decline accepting as clients people I didn’t think I’d like.

Having spent the past couple of weeks immersed in social media posts, I am reminded of my lawyer friend’s comments… and my own experience …of not liking clients.

Engaging Relationships

Social media applications like Facebook and LinkedIn offer businesses the opportunity to connect directly with potential clients.

In effect, this means we can use our social media resources to listen to what prospective clients are saying and engage them in conversations. By engaging prospective clients in conversation, we develop relationships that can ultimately lead to these people becoming revenue-producing clients.

Remember …if people like us, they might do business with us; if they don’t, they won’t.

If ever there was an excellent vehicle for showcasing our likeability…its social media.

The True Value of Social Media

Unfortunately, too many businesses miss the true value of social media marketing.

Instead of making mutually beneficial connections, these businesses use social media marketing to continue the same old annoying…and largely ineffective…promotional techniques.

They promote how good they and their services are …or at least think they are.

Frequently, they shout the same thing…over …and over..and over again.

Ignoring the needs, wants and interests of perspective clients, their posts are little more than self-serving promotional pitches.

Regardless of the actual words used, the message is the same: I don’t care about you. I only care about you buying from me.

Actions speak louder than words. Many social media posts send the message that the posting businesses neither understand nor particularly like their prospective clients.

If People Like Us…

Certainly these businesses have the right to post whatever messages they choose, provided of course that their posts comply with terms and conditions of whatever social media they use.

However, as consumers we all have the right to ignore posts…and the businesses … we don’t like.

The moral of this post?

If people like us, they might do business with us; if they don’t, they won’t.

Last Saturday (March 31, 2012), I conducted a social media marketing workshop in Granada, Nicaragua.

Social Media Marketing

I didn’t go to Granada to conduct the workshop; I chose to winter in one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. Soon after I arrived, the idea of marketing training arose in a conversation with other foreigners. It was this idea that ultimately led to the social media marketing workshop.

The mix of participants could not have been better if I had planned it. The key factor was that of the 5 participants, 2 had a lot of social media experience, mostly with Facebook and 2 had no social media experience. The fifth person has tons of business experience…but limited experience with social media.

As a workshop leader, I consider my role as that of a facilitator. I try to make it easy for participants to learn from their own experience and the experience of others.

This approach worked perfectly in Saturday’s workshop.

Learning From Experience

By drawing on their social media experience, the more experienced participants offered comments and responses that helped less experienced participants learn some some social media basics.

Similarly, by drawing on her experience, the experienced business person helped all of us clarify social media as a marketing tool.

And by simply asking their questions, the less experienced participants were the catalyst for the rest of us to to tap into our memories and articulate something we may have forgotten that we knew. Not only did we feel good about knowing more than we thought we did, we realized that we had even more experience upon which we could develop new marketing applications.

As for the less experienced participants, they are now more comfortable with the idea of social media marketing and ready to take the plunge.

Common Desires

At the beginning of the workshop, the only common desire was to learn more about social media marketing.

Very soon another common desire arose. All participants whether Nicaraguan, American or Canadian loves Nicaragua and wants to promote its benefits. As a visitor, I share their love of this beautiful country. (If you have not yet visited Nicaragua … plan to make the trip and enjoy meeting some wonderful people.) This happy and unexpected development helped bring the group together.

As the workshop ended, contact information was exchanged with participants agreeing to keep in touch and help each other.

Although a live, in-person event, the workshop produced results similar to what can be expected from social media marketing. Like social media, the workshop was about connecting with other people and exchanging beneficial information.

When we exchange information for others, we also build relationships with these people.

From the perspective of marketing, good relationships invariably lead to more and better clients.

Social media is one of the best tools available to help build more and better relationships, with like-minded people, which in turn will generate the new business that you want…and deserve.