How to Market Your Professional Services Business
Every consultant, lawyer, accountant, insurance broker, realtor, financial advisor, writer, recruiter and others who are self-employed know that selling services is much more difficult than selling products. When the product is an intangible, business development presents different challenges than B2B or B2C product marketing.
Clients buy from trustworthy and competent people who they like and who can demonstrate that they can produce the results they promise. There are four key components to doing this successfully:
- Understand your value proposition and how to differentiate your business from your competitors. What makes you different from everyone else? How can you help your clients like no one else can? How are you unique?
- Build trust relationships, establish yourself as a subject matter expert and optimize your client communications. Your firm needs to be visible, likeable and credible. Consistently show that you have your client’s best interests at heart.
- Focus your efforts on a specific market niche, whether it is a geographical market, a functional area, a certain demographic, a vertical market segment or something else. It is rare to impossible to be all things to all people. Define your ideal client and build from there.
- Develop a written plan with goals, methodologies, timelines and metrics. Focus on one approach at a time to get it working, and then develop the second, and so on. This requires constant nurturing. If a methodology isn’t working, change it or drop it. Dedicate a bank of time very week to marketing activity.
Your communications plan should focus on generating leads and referrals. There are a multitude of methodologies to accomplish this:
- Website: Drive traffic to your website. Make it interactive to collect potential client contact information. Build content around client issues, not your qualifications. Perspective clients will head straight to your website before they call you. Create a positive first impression. Use content, testimonials, etc. to build and sustain client relationships. It’s not just a promotional tool. Offer free content as a white paper on relevant topics.
- Alliance Partners: Develop relationships with other businesses that have the same client focus that you have and share leads. Use structured leads groups when appropriate.
- Networking: Meet other professionals or potential clients at the Chamber of Commerce, community events, civic groups, non-profits, charities, church activities, schools and universities. Maximize your LinkedIn connections.
- Referral Marketing: Develop a cadre of trusted advisors/business confidants/former clients that can be a source for business referrals.
- Trade Associations: Join, attend and make presentations at industry trade shows, conferences and seminars. Publish articles in trade magazines.
- Newsletter: Publish a monthly newsletter that’s full of helpful business tips and industry news.
- Directory Listings: Make sure that you are listed in both online and offline directories and appear in search engine results, so prospective clients can find your services when they need them.
- Press Releases: Email client success stories regarding how your services solved their business problem and helped grow their business.
- Social Media: Optimize your presence on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and other social media websites appropriate to your business.
- Blogging: Create your own blog and post regularly on topics relevant to your market niche, as well as tweet, to establish a community of followers that can be a source of referrals.
- Seminars/Webinars: Host a mini-seminar or online webinar regularly where an outside marketing expert talks about how to grow your client’s business or similar relevant topics.
- Publish a Book: This is a great way to establish yourself as the subject matter expert in your area of expertise.
Instead of trying to “sell” your services, give prospects the confidence that you are the expert they can rely on and trust to get the job done. Stay in constant touch or maintain your visibility with clients, so they can find you when they need you. Show them with relevant content and continuous communication that you are the “GO TO” person in your market niche.