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Posts Tagged ‘accounting marketing’

Professional Service Marketing Mistakes

 

This week, I had the opportunity to speak at Marquette University Law School. It’s the third year in a row I’ve spoken during this particular course, and I always enjoy sharing a marketing perspective with the future attorneys I meet in the class. Of course, as future attorneys they ask insightful questions, but I did manage to raise a few eyebrows when I explained that if their marketing sounds like everyone else, there is no way for a prospective client to tell them apart from their competitors. And in that case, the prospect will always go with the larger firm, because it’s a safer choice.

Wondering what else I told the class? Here’s the presentation I shared.

Marketing Mistakes Professional Service Providers Make from Clear Verve Marketing, LLC

Christina Steder is the President of Clear Verve Marketing and works with clients to plan, create and execute marketing campaigns. Follow her on Twitter as @clearverve.

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Three reasons why your firm can’t cross sell

 

Most professional service firms complain that they have many clients who could use other services their firm provides, but they just can’t seem to cross-sell these services. There are three reasons for this challenge:

  • Your service providers are mistakenly thinking that their clients understands the wide range of services provided by your firm. In most cases, this simply isn’t true. When clients think of the services your firm provides, they think of the services THEY receive and nothing else. Clients have their own problems, they don’t sit around all day thinking about you. You need to remind them of everything you know how to do and uncover their problems before they engage someone else to solve them.
  • As service providers, you get wrapped up in solving the problems your clients have presented to you, then moving on. Unfortunately for service providers, your clients won’t face every problem at the same time. So cross selling isn’t a same-time sale. It’s not like the fast food worker asking you if you want fries with your meal. It’s more like the waiter at a fancy restaurant checking on you after dessert to see if you’d like an after dinner drink. You need to keep in touch with your clients long after your services have been rendered in order to sell them something else.
  • The originating service provider can’t explain the other services offered by your firm, or doesn’t understand how to recognize the cross selling opportunity. Just like clients think about your firm as doing for everyone what you do for THEM, service providers think about clients needing what they know how to provide. Without a good understanding of what your own firm can do, you can’t see these opportunities.

The solution to these problems is content marketing. By sharing information about other services your firm provides, your clients will be exposed to these services. Your clients will recognize themselves in your case studies, blog posts, and newsletter articles. If you read your own firm’s case studies, blog posts, and newsletter articles, you will learn more about how to describe these services in plain English. That way, when your clients ask you about what they have read, you will be able to answer the question, or at least direct them to the author of the article.

The trick with all of this is to be deliberate and consistent. Without a communications plan tied to your organization’s goals, you’re just talking to make noise. Think about how your firm wants to grow and build your content marketing plan to match these goals. This will tell you what to write about and where to publish the information. Then, force yourself to be consistent. People need to hear messages more than once before they sink in. But with time, a well-planned content marketing strategy can help your firm cross sell without turning your service providers into “salespeople.”

Christina Steder is the President of Clear Verve Marketing and works with clients to plan, create and execute marketing campaigns. Follow her on Twitter as @clearverve.

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Niches: A smart strategy

 

In his blog, Real Lawyers Have Blogs, Kevin O’Keefe makes several compelling arguments for why attorneys should blog on specific niches rather than writing a blog on general legal topics. It’s a great, short read and we recommend you check it out, particularly if you’ve ever worried about defining your practice or your firm by a niche.

We think niches are a smart strategy. Not just for blogs, but for your business. Whether you’re an attorney, an accountant, or any other type of service provider, niches can help you market your firm because your prospects will understand when you are the right person to call. Will it exclude you from some opportunities? Sure, but it will also ensure that you get more of the work you enjoy most because when you explain what you do, eight of the nine people you are talking to will not be interested but that ninth person will hand you a business card and say, “Call me. I’ve been looking for someone like you.”

Choosing a niche is scary, we know. But it is the best way to differentiate yourself from other service providers who describe their work in such general terms you can’t tell why on earth you’d ever want to engage them.

Christina Steder is the President of Clear Verve Marketing and works with clients to plan, create and execute marketing campaigns.  Follow her on Twitter as @clearverve.

Survey Says!

 

Does hearing an unanswerable question over and over again make you want to find the answer? Well, it did in our case.

Professional service providers were coming to us for advice on social media use. But they wanted more than just the standard advice. They wanted to know how to deal with issues that are especially important in their industries. Issues like conflict of interest, confidentiality and providing general advice that could be misinterpreted in a specific situation.

So we collaborated with McGrath Marketing Associates to complete a survey and create an e-book: Social Media Habits of Accountants and Attorneys in Southeastern Wisconsin (and it’s free for anyone, by the way). We felt that providing professional service providers with the opportunity to learn from one anther would help everyone.

Here are some nuggets of information that we discovered:

  • Most professionals who don’t use social media prefer to use other methods of communication such as phone calls, texting or emails.
  • Some professionals have not begun using social media for work due to lack of formal training and understanding of how to use social media professionally.
  • Over 40 percent of participants said they did not use social media to communicate with any of their customers or business associates. However, participants were most likely to say they would use social media with those who they knew were users of the media.
  • An important goal of many firms is keeping employees’ personal communication separate from professional communication.
  • The relative equality in the number of people who use social media for personal and business communications indicates a strong need for social media policies at all firms.

Over 600 professionals between the ages of 21 and 60 participated in the survey, representing 144 different firms ranging in size from fewer than 50 employees to firms with over 1000 employees. The online study was conducted between April 26, 2010 and May 30, 2010.

The forward for the book was written by Todd Sattersten, former President of 800-CEO-READ and co-author of The 100 Best Business Books of All Time. Todd also reviewed the book.

We learned a great deal from the survey and hope you will too. You can download the book here.

Service Marketing and the Oscars

 

In her Golden Practices blog, Michelle Golden draws an interesting parallel between a comment made at the Oscars and accounting marketing.

You should check out her blog to read the whole entry in which she makes some great points about what really matters in service marketing – content. And not jargon-filled, hyped up content either. What matters is content that assumes the audience is intelligent, but not necessarily knowledgeable about the technical stuff that seems like common sense to someone in your industry.

In a service based industry, you are selling the invisible. Whether you offer knowledge, creativity, or a thorough job performing manual labor, people need to understand what you can do for them. They need to know that you’re smart, but won’t make them feel stupid. They need to understand what types of problems you solve. They need to be able to figure out what the heck you do.

Share your knowledge, share examples, explain and explain and explain. It will only make them need you more.