How Do You Attract More Clients?
Marketing Strategy Advice
for Solicitors, Accountants, Architects, Surveyors, Engineers, Doctors, Consultants, etc.
Regulation pressures, BREXIT, cybersecurity threats, price challenges, technology takeover, natural attrition, late payments and competition heating up...
Professional firms need to attract clients more than ever.
Well-Worded Websites Help Clients Find Professionals
Introducing these from first principles, briefly:
1. New clients and returning clients are key to business health
Although the professions are primarily providers of services, they cannot afford to remain passive and hope clients will drift along at the right time. There is too much competition. The flow of clients, and resulting fee payments, has to balance the outgoing commitments, just like all other businesses.
But professional services are difficult to buy.
For clients, the basic issue is that physical products are easy to see, understand and imagine in action. And often they can be taken home immediately. (And returned just as quickly!)
By comparison, professional services essentially invisible and delayed in action. So they are mostly judged on their results.
This means the decision-making processes are very different, involving a great deal of trust.
Trust is Essential when clients need professionals
"Consumers use lawyers at critical life moments and when they feel at their most vulnerable; the advice they receive in these situations can have major financial and personal consequences." (Quality in Legal Services, The Legal Services Consumer Panel)
All professions have this responsibility - the duty of care to the client.
So the professional provider has to explain things at the client's pace or risk scaring them off.
All the places where you can explain things are best managed to form a coherent pathway. This makes things easier for clients to make decisions, and therefore your firm gains more clear-minded, committed and co-operative clients.
What is a Client-Attracting Pathway?
It is the series of 'touch points' or stepping stones you provide that most of your potential clients will experience in approaching your firm. Providing services often uses more touch points than products do: making the decision is more involved.
The aim is to attract clients along a well-designed 'customer journey' of contacts. The ideal is for all stepping stones to prepare people for the next step. Each should contribute to building a lasting bond between the individual and the firm.
While the first step (through your website, leaflets, networking etc.) is the key to finding new clients; the last few steps are the most valuable for business health by attracting repeat business.
You already have a pathway designed to guide the flow of people enquiring to help them become clients. It then goes on to attract repeat clients later. It may be called the 'system', the 'client list' or the 'client-management process'.
Too-often, it is inherited unquestioningly. The details are often taken for granted as long as they seem to work - often they are viewed as admin. But they play a vital role in encouraging potential clients to come forward, and previous clients to return. There are many small steps and they can be quietly tuned, one-at-a-time for the benefit of your business.
An important question: What makes you interested in revitalising your systems?
Use our Five-Minute Assess-Yourself Checklist (free instant access) to explore these
six different outcomes - all valuable opportunities for your firm - to clarify your thoughts.
So if we were to revitalise your process to gain different outcomes,
what would you want?
1. DO YOU WANT MORE NEW ENQUIRIES?
It is difficult to attract more First-time Enquiries.
They face distractions about timing, selection, trust, funding and the stresses of their situation. They need help to contact you when you are the appropriate choice.
Read more about this first step - attracting more enquiries - on the next page, with detailed articles and free DIY Survey downloads.
2. DO YOU WANT DIFFERENT ENQUIRIES?
It takes deliberate effort to interest a new sort of first-time client.
You might want clients with more serious problems, or better social connections, or who commit to timely fee payment.
Your previous brand – the image people have of you – carries a momentum in their minds. So it takes extra effort to change people's perception. But you can 'tune' your marketing message to appeal to a more preferable type of client.
Concerns about losing out can make it tempting to widen your offer as much as possible.
But the risk then is diluting your differentiation from colleague-competitors and perhaps gainingfewer enquiries overall.
3. IS CONVINCING ENQUIRERS TO INSTRUCT YOU THE PRIORITY?
It can be difficult to help first-timers to instruct you.
Doubts, unfamiliarity, concerns about making things worse, etc. can all increase hesitancy.
They need more help to make the most appropriate choice.
You may be surprised at the number of steps they have to feel comfortable with before they are convinced that you can help them safely and it's right to say yes.
4. would you like to have more Returning Clients?
It is easier to attract Repeat Business and these clients alsocost less to engage.
They already have a relationship with you, they trust you and it's probably more convenient to return to you. They need occasional reminders about your ability to help with new problems or opportunities.
Explore this step (encourage more clients to return) on the last-but-one page.
In law, one of the most self-aware professions in the UK, these issues are rated amongst the highest business concerns. And amongst the highest stress-causing issues.
We're sure this is because they relate to marketing activities rather than trained professional skills - which most likely applies to all professions in practice.
2. Proactively managing client-flow is marketing's essential job
Many people equate marketing with advertising costs.
Viewed in vacuo, it could look like good money after bad.
But marketing can offer you so much more than advertising. And often very cheaply.
By tuning your 'client attracting process' from the first steps onwards, you gain a step-change improvement in effectiveness and cost-efficiency.
You can control every point of contact between your firm and potential clients. Fine-tuning the quality of those contacts gives you the ability to attract clients more selectively.
Small improvements Quietly Retune Your Marketing Messages
Small adjustments to a variety of routine digital, paper and personal contacts also makes for better client-care, more repeat business, more referrals and a wonderful reputation.
Maybe that's why research has found that high-growth, high-value firms were growing nine times faster, were 50% more profitable, yet spent slightly less than average on advertising and sales. Does that fit with your team's ambitions?
What are your practical marketing priorities:
...more enquiries, more clients or more returners, or something else?
Explore seven different outcomes with this quick self-assessment checklist.
Once the WHO? is clear, you can address the HOW?
3. Speak directly to people's concerns to be quietly persuasive
The onus is on you to explain what you do and how you help - in a way that easily makes sense to your potential clients. This means avoiding your specialist professional language which is probably a daily default setting.
The quality of your persuasion is key.
While artwork, design and layout can help create a good impression...
it is your message that convinces.
This applies to your website, leaflets, letter of engagement and person-to-person discussions, etc.
Being human, even nearly-clients can have mixed feelings that introduce unexpected twists and turns into the journey towards agreement. These human issues are best taken into account so that your message serves them well in their decisions, and eases your professional task.
Your choice of words is critical.
Rewording your website and marketing literature will revitalise its effect on potential clients.
Use the principles of direct marketing, interactive advertising and decision-making psychology.
Attract more clients of the type you want, cost-effectively, simply by tuning your word-choice.
This may all sound like making things increasingly artificial and complicated -
but actually it's the exact opposite: work hard on making things as easy as possible for the clients you want to find.
Your aim is to encourage a bonding process To Start
You want potential clients to leave behind their initial 'researcher mode' and warm towards your firm as people rather than just an information-source. This needs a shift in the communication - away from announcement style and towards conversation: announcements interrupt, conversations continue.
Here we are going beyond SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), into HCO (Human Choice Optimisation).
After SEO technology attracts more visitors to your website, HCO psychology works to increase the number of visitors who actually click or call your office to enquire about taking up your services.
What is Human Choice Optimisation?
It is a new approach to designing marketing messages, especially for professionals. HCO is concerned with the human reader's emotional biases rather than the rational automation in search engines (which SEO does).
HCO uses ethical ways encourage the reader to make decisions quickly and easily with the old arts of 'the gentle nudge' recently backed up and extended by modern psychology research evidence.
With professional services being invisible until activated, the most friendly and encouraging approach is describing the professional service and as many other reassuring factors as possible very clearly to suitable potential clients.
HCO is the basis of client attraction strategy
That might seem obvious, but many websites are written more to describe services provided than to findclients. They sort of say "Hi! Our services are wonderful..." and that's all. In relationship-building terms, there's a lot missing.
However, the way you optimise a website (or leaflet or advert for that matter) for human choice is quite involved. There are many small adjustments to wording you can use.
For instance, speaking at potential clients rather than to them is "the worst copywriting sin that strangles sales", says marketing guru Drayton Bird. This is a small-but-powerful change in style. But speaking to is difficult because of the nature of the professional work itself.
In case you're not sure what your current website actually does to clients...
How To Check If Your Website Warms Up Or Puts Off People. (3-minute Self-Check Questionnaire)
There are many ways to encourage first-time potential clients to begin to bond with you.
And following on from your website:
Your Client-Attracting Pathway then continues with steps of different types: paper, people and ambiance.
These all influence how well you persuade enquirers to become clients...