A specific, step-by-step system for getting clients quickly. It covers six broad marketing strategies, with advice and detailed examples. It includes a 28-day program for putting the information into action. You’re supposed to start seeing results by the end of the program, but to keep repeating it to be effective. It’s aimed at professionals and consultants operating as self-employed and very small businesses, but much of the advice can be applied more generally.
What Really Works? Effective Marketing Strategies
Marketing strategies for professional services, most to least effective
Type of strategy is in parentheses.
1. Direct contact and follow-up (outreach)
2. Networking and referral building (outreach and credibility)
3. Public speaking (visibility and credibility)
4. Writing and publicity (visibility and credibility)
5. Promotional events (visibility)
6. Advertising (visibility)
Direct contact and follow-up
• Must personalize initial communication, otherwise it’s just direct mail, which is advertising (least effective). Subsequent contact can be impersonal, such as newsletters or mailings, but use personal contact for interested prospects.
• Tactics: warm calls, lunch/coffee, personal letter/email, send links to useful articles, invite to third-party seminars, newsletters.
Networking and referral building
Tactics: develop referral partners (people who serve the same clients).
• Speak to existing groups rather than hosting your own event.
• Tactics: make announcements or introductions at group meetings, serve on panels, do webinars or web chats, give classes/workshops.
Writing and publicity
• Start small (blog, newsletters) before graduating to larger publications.
• Use ghost writers and editors as necessary.
• Always provide the media with a story. Tell why their audience will be interested.
• Don’t expect a flock of new prospects; these efforts slowly build credibility and name recognition.
• List publications and media appearances in your marketing kit or website.
• Once you’ve appeared in one media outlet, others will be eager to have you.
• Tactics: write a regular column, contact journalists or bloggers when they discussed your area of expertise (and they may contact you next time).
• Can be expensive; compare cost per lead to other marketing methods.
• Tactics: free demos or workshops to hot prospects; online demos or workshops; open house reception; co-sponsor events with nonprofits or colleagues; host networking lunch, breakfast, or mixer.
• Advertising usually must be coupled with direct contact and follow-up to pay off.
• If your clients usually select your services by referral, advertising is probably a waste. If they use advertising to make their decision, you may consider it.
• Display ads in the newspaper, magazines, and trade journals are more for visibility than direct response. You usually need a big budget and repeat advertising.
• Direct-mail is much less effective than personal letters, and are often a waste.
• Tactics: SEO, web directories.
What Really Works? Effective Marketing Strategies, cont.
• In professional services, marketing and sales are separate. Think of every marketing strategy as a sales strategy, and vice versa.
• Better to get multiple exposures to a smaller target group than get fewer exposures to more people.
Putting the System into Action
Choose only the action items that reflect who you are and what you like to do. The only thing you’re required to become good at is talking to people so they understand what you offer and that you can help them.
“Don’t let the work you already have your excuse for not finding the class you really need. Make marketing your first priority instead of the last thing you do.”
“Everyone you meet is either a prospect or a potential source of referrals. Never pass up an opportunity to introduce yourself.”
Acknowledge your progress; don’t only reward results. Marketing is a skill learned over time.
You can purchase the book by clicking here.
Filling the Pipeline: When You Don’t Know Enough People to Contact
“In marketing, more of the same works much better than a little of everything.”
If you can’t narrow your niche definition to one target market or specialty, define two or three distinct ones. Example: “executives, established professionals, and successful entrepreneurs.”
10-second introduction: state key benefit of service before giving occupation or job title.
When contacting someone new, call before you mail/email, and call again after your mail. Mail/email without call isn’t nearly as effective.
Rather than asking if people can think of anyone to refer you to, narrow the frame of reference. For example, ask if anyone they golf with, or are in Rotary with, etc. could benefit from your service.
Public speaking is effective largely due to the perceived endorsement of the group hosting the event, and the fact that the group invites attendees. Hosting your own talk, webcast, podcast, etc. is a promotional event, and much less effective.
When collecting leads, ask a qualifying question.
Leads from advertising take more convincing, are more likely to ask for a lower price, and require a longer sales cycle than those from other marketing methods.
Following Up: When You Know Plenty of People but You’re Not Contacting Them
When following up, alternate emails with phone calls. Email is too easy to hide behind and is too hard to gauge interest.
Don’t make contacts feel wrong for not returning messages. Instead of saying, “I haven’t heard from you,” say you’re eager to speak with them. Send/leave 3 messages in a 10-day period, then wait a month and repeat.
If the sale seems worth it, don’t quit contacting.
Closing Sales: When You’re Making Appointments but Not Getting Sales
General advice: Agree with what the prospect says, then ask an open-ended question that leads the conversation back to how your service can be of value.
If the prospect says, “We can’t afford to spend that much,” say, “Yes, I know the prices significant. Let me ask you, what is it costing you not to fix it?” or, “Yes, it’s a big investment. What results would make that kind of investment worthwhile?”
If the prospect says, “I need to think about it, ” Say, “It’s a big decision, and I’m sure you do. Tell me, what are some of your concerns?”
If the prospect says, “We are too busy right now,” say, “I know how busy you are. Tell me, if you don’t deal with the situation now, when will you be less busy?”
If the prospect says, “I’m not sure you’re right for the job,” say, “Yes, I know that you may have concerns about that. What would you need to feel confident about in order to hire me?”