Your marketing objective is simple: help ideal clients choose you.
The most important word in that sentence was “help“, and that is very different to “convince“, which is the typical marketing approach. A great marketing process helps prospects move along the buying (decision-making) path by pre-empting their concerns and need for answers.
The concept is similar to Maslow’s famous “hierarchy of needs” where the most basic of needs must be met before any consideration can be given to loftier ideals. In layman’s language, people don’t care about having a statue of themselves built if they do not have sufficient food or adequate shelter. The most basic and essential needs must be fulfilled before there is any motivation to consider higher physical or emotional needs.
When it comes to marketing services, where the consumer is essentially renting a set of knowledge and skills which they can benefit from using, there are three essential questions which run through the consumers mind as they consider their options.
1. Who are you?
2. What do you do?
3. Why should I care?
The last question is the one which good professional services marketers focus upon and nail to the consumers satisfaction often enough that they get a sufficient volume of new clients. Average or poor marketers often miss answering this to the consumers satisfaction completely and struggle to get adequate results from their marketing efforts. They think they’ve answered it of course because they have an “About Me” page or LinkedIn profile which cites their CV and various acronyms.
A bunch of letters after your name and a bit of a trawl through your employment history isn’t enough to make consumers want to choose you when pretty much everyone they google or read about has a bunch of letters and has been gainfully employed for most of their adult life. These things are not a differentiator. Knowledge and experience is not enough to stand out. They are not enough generally to make someone choose you above any other professional.
Who are You?
You’ve heard it a hundred times: people do business with people who they feel they “know”, like and trust. They want to know who you are. Standing out requires you to expose yourself (I mean that in the marketing sense of course). You have to reveal a bit about the person you are….which doesn’t mean trotting out the childhood memoirs or showing a picture of your pet goldfish. People want to understand your values and professional philosophies…they want to know about your successes and failures….your strengths and weaknesses…..they need to get a feel for who you are.
Creating familiarity and a sense of alignment of values is the necessary first step. Only then do consumers want to know whether you can help them professionally.
What do you do?
This is where you can begin to wheel out the professional qualifications and acronyms, however they are relatively minor elements in reality. The major element is the professional area of expertise, or range of services that you provide. The challenge is to avoid jargon and technical language if at all possible.
It is far better to say “we figure out how people should keep all of their eggs out of the same basket so their investments are less risky” than to say “we specialise in diversified portfolio construction“.
When describing what it is you do it shouldn’t be an IQ test for the consumer. Avoid using language which they have to interpret and decipher if you want them to engage and choose you.
Why should I care?
This is the “what’s in it for me?” question of course, and we have to nail it. As I touched upon earlier, if this is answered well enough you can often get by without having answered the first 2 questions in your marketing. However, your marketing will be vastly more effective if this is the logical progression after having answered the first 2 questions because that is the process most consumers go through as they are considering who to choose.
To answer this question successfully you need to explain how what you do helps them get what they want. It is the linking of your knowledge, experience and skill set to the outcomes which the consumer wants that makes it effective.
Build the answers to these 3 core questions into your marketing and you will have constructed a marketing position and message which will resonate with your target market. You will be anticipating their decision-making journey and helping them to choose the right professional for their needs.
Tony Vidler is a business adviser who helps business professionals build more profitable advice businesses. He is also a conference speaker, personal business mentor and sales coach. Find out more at http://tonyvidler.com/financial-adviser-coach-blog/