The marketing approach that I use with clients is based on two fundamental ideas. These are giving value and building a network of clients and prospective clients. Put these two things together effectively using the marketing principles detailed below and you’ll stand out ahead of the competition.
Key Marketing Principles
For a house to stand tall it needs a firm foundation. Similarly with your marketing efforts, solid principles provide the foundation. The following core marketing principles are fundamental to the development and implementation of an effective marketing strategy, a strategy that results in a steady stream of clients.
• Market Solutions
• Build and Maintain Your Network
• Use Your Passion
• Give Value
• Ask for Referrals
1. Market Solutions
Most service professionals are proud of their expertise, their approach and the products and services they offer. While competence is a key to doing the work, most clients’ primary concern is getting problems solved and having their spoken and unspoken needs met. Instead of marketing your expertise, what you know and how important you are, your processes or methodology, market the solutions you offer. Marketing is about making connections, e.g. making the connection between a client’s unmet need and the solutions you provide.
Use every resource in the toolbox, from web research to your network to clearly identify the common problems your clients experience. And use every opportunity, every phone call, every contact to sharpen this understanding. Instead of focusing on your services and methodology, use questions to understand clients’ specific needs. Lead with an identification of clients’ needs and follow with a focus on the solutions you provide.
2. Build and Maintain Your Network
Think in terms of a lifetime approach to marketing and develop a strategy that focuses on building long-term relationships and gradually growing your network of potential, present and past clients.
Memories are short. Once we hit middle age most of us can’t remember what we had for dinner two days ago much less the host of services various people provide. In most cases its safe to assume your target market has forgotten you exist or lost track of the range of solutions you offer.
Make sure to stay in touch on a monthly or at a minimum quarterly basis with your target market. And when you contact people be clear about the action you want prospective, existing and past clients to take.
3. Use Your Passion
As an independent professional or consultant with a management consulting firm you’ve hopefully picked your career based on a personal interest and conviction that you can provide value to clients. Let this passion show through in helping others with your ideas as you do your marketing.
“Nothing, not all the armies of the world, can stop an idea whose time has come.” Victor Hugo
4. Give Value
For service professionals in particular a key ingredient to a building a relationship is the development of trust, something that takes time and repeated contact with prospective clients to develop. The best way to open the door with prospective clients is by giving clients a test drive.
The objective is to regularly let prospective clients experience the value of your expertise Use newsletters or workshops or a free session or via shared ideas found on your web site, etc. Over time demonstrating the value you provide will convince prospective clients of your ability to solve their problems and help you position yourself as a trusted advisor.
5. Ask for Referrals
Many service professionals rely on referrals to grow their business. Enlisting others to serve as your referral network is one way to dramatically increasing your sales force at little or no cost.
Whether you are looking for referrals or for people to use your services, remember to ask for referrals. And if you’re satisfied customers aren’t providing referrals, ask them why and then give them what they need to feel more comfortable in generating referrals.