Marketing a service business isn’t the same as marketing products. Your relationship with customers is more important, so building those relationships has to take priority. Here is a seven-step model you can follow to successfully market professional services.
You want to approach a prospect, but you don’t know them and they don’t know you. Marketing to strangers usually means struggle and rejection.
That’s why the first set of marketing tactics are to form affiliations with those who are currently strangers.
You create affiliations or connections with prospects by joining organizations, associations and groups. Through this simple affiliation, you’re no longer a complete stranger. Tactics that get the attention of those you’ve affiliated with come next.
Attention is gained through communication, either verbal or written. What you say must both hit a nerve and offer some hope. Once you have attention, you apply tactics that are designed to build some trust by increasing your ‘familiarity quotient.’
If we look at the big picture of how a prospect actually becomes a client, the following seven-step model is very useful. Each step involves specific tactics.
Visibility leads to familiarity. Wouldn’t you rather do business with someone you’ve met face-to-face or, at minimum, heard about favorably? The next tactics to implement are ones that inform your prospects about the many ways you can help them.
Information can come in myriad formats: One-pagers, brochures, web sites, articles, reports, and CDs. Value-laden is the key. Prospects who respond to your information are now ready for tactics designed to give them a deeper experience of you and your services.
Presentations and talks, teleclasses, and a regular eZine can all deepen the experience prospects have of you. Trust and credibility build. The final set of tactics complete the marketing process by initiating appointments to explore working together.
Follow-up isn’t hard if your prospects already have a favorable experience of what your services can do for them. Once you’re meeting belly-to-belly, then a whole new process begins: Selling.
These seven steps concisely outline how the marketing process actually works. Want more detail? Okie dokie!
From Stranger to Affiliation
One of the most frequent questions I hear is, ‘How do I get an appointment with a top decision-maker in a company?’ My answer: ‘You can’t get there from here!’ You don’t go from stranger to appointment as your first marketing step.
After all, do you eagerly wait for phone calls from strangers who want some of your valuable time? Don’t you want to get rid of them as fast as you possibly can? Instead, you go from stranger to affiliation. An affiliation is any meaningful connection between you and a prospect. An affiliation adds a smidgen of trust. An affiliation opens the door a crack. The fastest way to build affiliations with prospects is amazingly easy:
Join organizations, associations and groups. You can be immediately affiliated with hundreds (or even thousands) of people by simply writing a check for your membership dues.
This first tactic sets the foundation for everything to follow; seek out groups whose members either consist of prospective clients, or those who could refer you to them.
These organizations include, (but are not limited to):
- Chambers of commerce
- Professional organizations
- Business associations
- Alumni groups or clubs
- Networking or leads groups
- Charitable organizations
- Online communities like Ryze or LinkedIn
- Groups within your religious denomination
- Women’s groups
- Men’s groups
- Hobby/Interest groups (gardening/writing/bicycling, etc.)
- Country clubs
- Health clubs
America is a country of associations. People like to mingle with others who share similar interests and passions. Despite the Internet, people love to congregate in person. Always have, always will. So implementing this tactic is a cinch. There are literally hundreds of thousands of groups out there waiting for you to join them. It just takes two steps:
1. Start searching for groups. Talk to your friends and associates, look in the business calendar section of your daily paper, visit the library, and check Google under your geographic area. They are out there waiting for you to discover them.
2. Call one organization at a time. Find out about their next meeting, and go and check them out. Don’t join yet. Chemistry, as in relationships, is also important in groups. If attending feels good, go again. If you feel the group is a fit after three connections, then join.
That’s it. You’ve initiated the process of moving prospects from Stranger to Affiliation. Next week we’ll explore the key tactics for getting the attention of prospects in these various organizations.
The More Clients Bottom Line:
Marketing is a process of moving a prospect from a Stranger to someone who you have an Appointment with. And the very first tactic to employ is creating affiliations with those who are currently strangers.
Robert Middleton of Action Plan Marketing has been helping Independent Professionals attract more clients since 1984. Robert is the author of the online bestsellers, the InfoGuru Marketing Manual and the WebSite ToolKit. Visit Robert’s web site at