How To Attract More, Better Clients: The Principles
Client-Attracting Strategy For Professionals
Solicitors, Accountants, Architects, Surveyors, Engineers, Doctors, Consultants.
Psychology secrets for your advertising, messages and meetings bring you more clients, better clients.
1. Attracting New And Returning Clients Is Key To Business Health
Professional firms need to attract clients.
While professionals are primarily providers of services, they cannot afford to hope clients will arrive 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.
Professional services are inherently 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 if need be!)
By comparison, professional tasks are essentially invisible and delayed in action. So really, they can only be judged on their results.
This means the decision-making processes are very different. Understandably, this involves a great deal of trust.
Trust is Essential when clients need professionals
For example: "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 confusing them and maybe scaring them off.
YOUR Client-attracting pathway
All the places where your marketing can explain things persuasively to potential clients are best managed as one coherent client-attraction process.
This makes it easier for clients to make decisions.
And that means your firm gains more clear-minded, committed and co-operative clients.
It is the route to more clients and better clients.
What is a Client-Attracting Pathway?
This orderly marketing process aims to guide the flow of people enquiring - to help them become clients. It goes on to remind clients to return later.
(It may be called 'the system', the 'client intake process' or the 'client-management process'. Different schools of thought will include different aspects.)
The pathway is that series of 'touch points' or stepping stones you provide for those potential clients approaching your firm. Providing services takes more touch points than selling products: making the decision is more involved.
Aim to shepherd potential clients along an easy-to-use 'customer journey' of stepping stones.
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 5x more cheaply than new clients.
Your firm already has a pathway
Too-often, though, it has been inherited unquestioningly.
The details are often taken for granted as long as it seems to work - often viewed as 'only admin'. And as such, they are designed by common-sense rather than client psychology.
But these stepping stones play a vital role in encouraging potential clients to come forward, and previous clients to return. They can exert more influence on your firm's success and growth than your professional skills. There are many small steps and they can be quietly tuned, one-at-a-time, methodically 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.
2. So if you started a project to revitalise your process,
What Would YOU Want To Achieve?
We can identify 4 options:
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 checklist downloads.
2. DO YOU WANT DIFFERENT ENQUIRIES?
It takes deliberate effort to interest a new sort of first-time client.
You could attract better clients. This rather subjective and general term should reflect your priorities. It might include clients with more serious problems, or different 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 gaining fewer 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 potential client's 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 also cost 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 - how to encourage more clients to return.
In law, one of the most self-aware professions in the UK, these issues are rated amongst the highest business concerns. And client-attracting & retaining is one of the highest stress-causing issues.
We're sure this is because they relate to marketing skills rather than trained professional skills - which most likely applies to all professions in practice.
For a free e-booklet giving details about every step of your client-attracting pathway, click the coupon on the right here.
Please note: it is often NOT more marketing that will make a difference, but better marketing.
You'd agree, I think, that more people seeing an off-putting message will not help!
Imagine the converse - you might need fewer people to see a better message to achieve similar (or better) results.
3. Managing Your Client-Flow Is Marketing's Essential Job
Marketing is more than just advertising.
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 on throughout their contact with you while working with them, 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. Psychology research guides your fine-tuning.
Small improvements Quietly HELP 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?
4. Speaking Directly To Client's Concerns Appeal To Them Best
The onus is on you to explain what you do and how you help
You marketing is NOT best used to announce your services.
It is much better if it is used to convince potential clients to come forward.
These explanations have to be written 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.
It also means adding more than you might normally plan to include.
This is about making it Client-Friendly Marketing.
The quality of your persuasion is key.
While artwork, design and layout can help create a good impression...
It is the words in your message that convince people.
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.
Start out right. Getting the quality of the early relationship right leads to fruitful relationships more easily than trying to correct upsets later on. Because you can include so much information on your website, this first step is the most powerful time to get the best messages across.
Your choice of words is critical.
Rewording your website and marketing literature can 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 you.
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 real 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 find clients. They sort of say "These are our services..." and that's all. In relationship-building terms, there's a lot missing.
However, there are many small adjustments to wording you can use to optimise a website (or leaflet or advert for that matter) to help both clients and professionals find what they want.
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.
In case you're not sure what your current website actually does for 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 your firm through your website.
5. WHEN TO ACT ON THIS? ... HOW URGENT IS IT?
Pre-COVID-19, in the legal profession, the goalposts were moving.
Regulatory, technological, political, competitive changes all pushing about forcefully.
"The evolution of the legal marketplace...
is beginning to OUTPACE those firms making only conservative changes and REWARDING those moving with the times."
(LexisNexis Bellwether Report 2018: The Culture Clash) (my emphasis)
Law is probably the most traditional profession.
In other professions, you will feel similar pressures.
PS: Once Your Website Has Attracted Their Attention...
Your Client-Attracting Pathway then continues through several steps of different types: paper documents, person-to-person communications and the ambiance (environment)of these communication touch-points.
These all influence how well you persuade enquirers to become clients...