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By Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing

Recently I asked myself what was really important in attracting clients and growing a professional service business. 

And what I realized is that it had nothing to do with marketing strategies and techniques. Sure, those are important but they're a moving target. They are always changing.

The question is, what things are important no matter what strategies and tactics you use? You may or may not do speaking and networking and have a website or use social media. 

But when you do use those strategies you need to remember and apply these laws or your marketing will fall flat on its face. So ignore them at your peril!

Today I’m going to give you an overview of those seven laws. Then over the following seven weeks, I’ll go into each law in depth.

First of all, the laws of marketing a professional service business are very different from marketing a product or a company. In those cases, the focus is on branding and differentiation.

To market a professional service business, the focus needs to be on clearly communicating your value proposition.  

Law #1 – You must be very good at what you do

In working with clients over the years I’ve seen that those who had the most expertise and overall confidence in what they offered, did better than others.

And, not so coincidentally, they also learned and implemented the other laws of marketing much better than average.

Becoming very good at what you do takes hard work, ongoing learning, and dedication to your business and to your clients. Nothing else can substitute for this. 

Law #2 – You must not be boring

The great advertising executive, David Ogilvy, said what I think is the most astute thing anyone ever said about marketing and advertising: "You can't bore someone into doing business with you." 

But what is the secret to being interesting, not boring? Does it mean razzle-dazzle and excitement, fancy graphics and knock-em-dead presentations?

Not at all. It means putting the focus on your clients and communicating clearly about the value and benefits they receive from working for you. It’s that simple – and that difficult.

Law #3 – You must have a balance of logic and emotion in your marketing communication

This is an extension of Law #2 and is about how you communicate the value of what you offer to your clients – through any and every communication medium.

So, let me demonstrate this: "If you learn how to balance emotion and logic in your marketing, many more people will be interested in your service and will want to work with you." 

That sentence was written in a logical matter. "If you do X you will get Y." But the content is emotional because it promises to give you something you want. Logical communication without an emotional appeal falls flat.

Law #4 – You must be visible to your ideal clients

In other words, you need to get both yourself and your message out there. This sounds simple in theory, but is actually the most challenging part of marketing yourself.

You only have so much time, energy and money to invest in marketing activities. This is why I put an emphasis on the three most effective marketing strategies for professional service businesses:

Networking (live and virtual) to build connections and relationships. Speaking (from keynotes to webinars) to position yourself as a top expert. Writing (from articles to books) to build long-term credibility.

Law #5 – You must communicate like a human being

Nobody likes “being marketed to.” But everyone likes to have conversations about how to solve their problems. We are not looking for a pitch, but for understanding.

Understanding starts by asking great questions of your prospective clients. What are their situations, goals, and challenges? Only when you know these can you legitimately offer your services.

And when it comes time to explain your services, remember Laws #2 and #3. Dwell less on your process (what you do) than on your value (what the client gets if they work with you).

Law #6 – You must be able to tell a story

Stories should permeate your marketing. A good story helps a client understand your value. Stories bypass the conceptual mind and speak directly to the emotional mind.

A good story has three parts: 1. The original situation of the client, 2. What you did to help them, 3. The results the client realized from working with you.

Build a repertoire of good stories to use whenever speaking to a prospective client, in talks and presentations, and when writing articles.

Law #7 – You must believe you make a difference

I’m willing to bet you didn’t go into business just to make money. You went out on your own as a self-employed professional because you wanted to help people.

But, as you probably know, growing a business can be challenging. Attracting clients who want to work with you and pay you well takes the consistent application of all these laws.

Remembering why you went into business in the first place will fuel your motivation. I’ve discovered that asking the question, “What service can I offer that will really help my clients?” inspires me a lot more than, “What can I do to make more money?”

In the coming seven weeks I’ll be going into all these laws in much more depth. So stay tuned!

Cheers, Robert

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Robert Middleton, the owner of Action Plan Marketing, has for 30 years, been helping Self-Employed Professionals attract more of their ideal clients.  He offers the online membership site, The More Clients Club, and individual coaching and consulting through his Marketing Action Coaching. If this is your first visit to the More Clients blog, make sure to get a copy of the Marketing Plan Workbook and join the Marketing Club Forum for free.