September 30, 2014

Sales and Marketing Advice for Florida business

How to market your professional services

Ron Stein | 3/25/2013

Selling services is much more difficult than selling products. Marketing something that’s intangible is just a tough sell and you’ve got to work harder than businesses that offer things you can see and touch.

For a business that provides services, the only thing potential clients see is a commodity that’s the same no matter who they do business with. Right?

Nonsense! If you’re a professional services provider -- lawyer, insurance broker, IT consultant, financial advisor, accountant, realtor -- or have a product and offer add-on maintenance agreements, don’t believe it. 

I think someone who believed the myth that selling the value of your service is somehow unprofessional started that rumor. Once again, that’s rubbish.

It turns out that marketing services and products have much in common. Demonstrating differentiation, building trust, and quantifying the value you provide your client.

Marketing professional services has been called selling the invisible. Here’s how to stand apart from your competitors and make your business visible.

List all the value you add as measured by your clients. “Value” can mean different things to each of your prospects. Put yourself in your client’s shoes, viewing the world from their perspective. Make a list of what you offer that your competition doesn’t -- training, additional services and partners that makes for one-stop shopping, onsite visits, better response times, and so on. Think in terms of how you help your client’s increase profits, do things faster, do their job more efficiently, or some other way help them achieve their goals.

Help your client like no one else can. Since your prime concern is your clients, go out of your way to help their businesses grow. Do that consistently and they’ll know you have their best interest at heart. Plus, it’s a great way to spread the word for your business when existing clients boast to others, “my [lawyer, insurance broker, IT consultant, financial advisor, accountant, realtor] does this and this for me, does yours?” The sky is the limit on what you can do. Here are two highly effective techniques to try: have a mini seminar regularly in your office where an outside marketing expert talks about how to grow your client’s business -- the other is to send out a newsletter that’s full of helpful business tips and updates of new industry regulations that touch their business. This is the true meaning of value-add that your competition does not do.

Make your firm and services visible and likeable. You have a wonderful opportunity to accomplish two different goals at once. You need to drive more traffic to your website -- who doesn’t! Use case studies on key topics of interest to your audience. Educate prospects on how to solve their problems and search engines will immediately pick up on the relevancy. The format should be a mix of video, webpages devoted just to that case study, and one-page documents that can be downloaded. Quantify the value you provide. Where appropriate, include a client’s testimonial. Here’s the bonus -- prospects will see you and your business in action without any over the top selling. When you can’t meet prospects in person, there’s no better way for them to look you in the eye, judge your expertise, and decide they like you.

Professional services providers market relationships and value. So instead of trying to “sell” your services, give prospects the confidence that you are the expert they can rely on and trust to get the job done.

Develop a marketing strategy and a consistent, end-to-end process to manage a prospect from lead origination to purchase. Then constantly add value in every way possible and watch your business grow.


Read earlier columns from Florida Trend's business coach, Ron Stein
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Ron Stein is the founder and President of FastPath Marketing (www.marketing-strategies-guide.com). He has more than 20 years experience in sales, marketing, and business development, working positions ranging from salesman to vice president of sales and marketing to CEO of startups with industry leaders such as Motorola, VideoServer, Paradyne, and SercoNet. Ron is a member of the advisory team at the Tampa Bay Innovation Center, a nationally recognized entrepreneurial and startup accelerator for the state of Florida. He can be reached at 727-398-1855 or Ron@FastPathMarketing.com

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