Professional Services Marketing….As Easy As BBB

Professional Services Marketing….As Easy As BBB

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  1. Anyone who has ever attempted to market a professional services firm, i.e. lawyers, accountants, architects, doctors and the like, knows that it is no easy feat. You are basically selling the intangible, waiting patiently to build your client base and cross-sell your services while promoting the firm and trying to gain buy-in and momentum with the partners and associates that you market. Many of these professionals would rather focus on their time and workload than devote valuable hours to promoting their practice. Here are a few methods you can use to shed light on the importance of marketing and business development within these industries.

    1. Befriend. Find a handful of attorneys or accountants within your firm that "get it." Not those that simply recognize the importance of marketing, but those that are actually doing something about it…publishing articles, speaking at your local Chamber, taking clients to dinner, blogging or sending newsletters. Review their marketing plans with them and discuss how you can assist them with their business development goals. Share with them your vision for the firm and ideas that you have to further promote individuals, practice groups and the firm itself. As your business relationship grows, you’ll have the chance to share your concerns, ask for guidance when establishing business development programs and activities, and gain comrades that will spread the word to doubters and encourage them to use your services as well.

    2. Boost. Promote, promote, promote! People love talking about themselves, so become a captive audience. Make it a point to stroll the halls of your office everyday and check in on partners and associates to see what they’ve been doing. Share their successes with the rest of the firm, as well as the media. Remember: it is your job to market internally as well as externally, and sometimes all it takes to instill the marketing spirit is publishing a recent marketing success story within the organization. Others will read the story, and ask how they can achieve the same results. The same works when promoting externally. You’ll be amazed at how many clients, friends and colleagues will clip articles or e-mail web links to those professionals that have been featured in the newspaper or in television interviews. Make reprints of articles published by your professionals and distribute at conferences and in firm marketing materials.

    3. Barter. Incentivize. Professionals are turned off by marketing efforts because they sometimes don’t see immediate results. Rather than try harder or devote additional time to business development, they are discouraged and tend to bury their business plans at the bottom of their desk drawer. Sometimes you need to offer a little extra in exchange for their continued efforts. Hold a "marketing" contest where professionals record their efforts and receive a certain amount of points for each marketing effort made. Do it once a month, once a quarter, or whatever works within your budget. Offer small bonuses or gift certificates (restaurants, Starbucks, iTunes are all pretty popular). When participants begin to see results, they’ll realize that the bigger pay-off is in building their book of business, and in promoting their practices to existing and prospective clients.

    Now that you know a few practices you might want to put in place, here are a few to avoid:

    1. Don’t belabor the point. No matter how much hard work and time you put into your firm’s business development plan, you’ll still have a few naysayers. Note: you can’t bug them into marketing their business. Instead, show them what an asset marketing could be for them. Pop into their offices occasionally and ask how they’re doing and if there’s anything you can do for them. Share a couple of success stories and be patient. They’ll come around.

    2. Don’t boss anyone around. You’re their marketer, not their momma. Your job can certainly be frustrating but you can’t bully someone into doing what you know they should be doing. Barking orders will put you on shaky ground, so focus on subtle ways to get your message heard.

    3. Don’t break your concentration. I’m sure there are times you want to just throw your hands up into the air and yell, "I give up!" Don’t. Keep doing what you’re doing, and don’t take anything personally. Follow these 3 Bs and I promise you, you’ll be A-OK.

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