Convince Clients You Really Are Very Valuable
(Use Proven Marketing Rules On Your Modern Website)
Convince people of the value: “Yes, you too can benefit!”
The Five Steps of 'Normal Marketing Methods' Don't Fit Professionals
Many professionals' deeply focussed training takes them further away from marketing than they realise.
In practice, tempted to emulate 'normal' marketing, they may be disappointed.
The fundamental stages of marketing are well-established:
- Get Attention – unread adverts gain no sales!
- Promise an Advantage – it's got to be worth-while.
- Prove It – 80% of readers scorn unproven claims
- Convince People they will Gain – 'yes, you too can benefit!' - THIS EDITION
- Ask for Action – the difference between advertising and educating.
[Compiled from MORE Marketing Tips - a short series on Convincing Value,
based on the Short Thoughts blog at more.consulting]
The nature of professional work makes marketing difficult.
There are elements of traditional marketing that often can't be used
- The professions have difficult-to-describe aspects of their services
- The emotion-laden client is usually more sensitive about what to expect
- So the professions cannot design their marketing materials exactly as other businesses do.
Your problem: “We can't easily Convince People they will Gain”
After your promise and your proof, you need to remind the potential client that he or she can personally benefit too.
You are relevant, accessible and the best option to explore in more detail.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
“We can't easily Convince People they will Gain”
1. Prove People Will Personally Be Better Off Approaching You
2. Use These 3 Exceptionally Persuasive Words To Show People They Directly Benefit With You
3. Convince First-Time Website Browsers To Ask For A Consultation
Prove People Will Personally Be Better Off Approaching You
We've been tracing a first-timer's journey from “I've never heard of them” to “That's interesting, but...”
- You've attracted potential clients attention
- You've promised them an advantage from working with you
- You've found a way to prove that it's no empty claim
Now you have to convince them that all the above actually applies to them as individuals.
That means getting beyond “That's interesting” to “I want...”.
A Familiar Journey
You'll probably recognise yourself in that situation. Discussing a new car with the salesman. Trying a different style of suit with the tailor or dress-maker. Discussing a home extension with an architect.
You feel warmly towards the product, and perhaps also fairly trusting of the professional.
But generalisations and abstractions do not convince hesitant humans.
At this stage, the opportunity has to be relevant to you, the individual.
The process leaves the marketing arena of speaking to many and focusses down onto speaking to the one person who is at the stage of deciding. The language of sales helps here: “Will it really work for me?”.
At this stage, that question is not about the outcome of their professional issue.
It is about asking for an appointment to learn about, and consider, instructing you to act for them.
(Later, in your first meeting, you will address the question of whether your services will help their problem or opportunity in a worthwhile manner.)
So you want to encourage individuals to make contact while the issue is still 'live' and while there is a suitable window in which you can act. Normal hesitations – delays, jitters, stage-fright – may make matters worse for them and more difficult for you by narrowing your window of opportunity.
Part of your work is to put people at ease.
Even in your marketing.
Remembering your own experiences in this situation –
before you physically act, you have to be pretty sure in your own mind.
If you're not sure yet, there are voices in your head asking if it's a scam, if there's more you need to know, or maybe there's something better elsewhere. Action stays on hold. You're interested but not convinced.
Remember, it was only a couple of moments ago that they were browsing around five or six options on Google's search results page.
How can you convince first-time potential clients when you can't actually speak to him or her yet?
The most important page on your website
After all your work, leading these visitors from your introduction through various stages to the point where they would short-list your firm, you want them to contact you.
The place where you do your encouraging when it is the best time to do so, is your most important page.
Your 'Contact Us' page is where the action happens, if it's going to.
But if people hesitate on the brink, what can you do to help them act?
When visitors arrive on that page, they have accepted your proposition so far – up to a point.
On that page, you have to edge them towards feeling convinced.
Here are three more subtle tactics that help.
FBI negotiators, used to dealing with frightened kidnappers, have found that summarising progress so far is really helpful.
It keeps people focussed, it reminds them of what they've agreed with so far, and allows a pause (because it's NOT pushy).
In that summary and/or after it, you can change your tone of voice slightly. Because you are repeating familiar chunks of information, you can speed up.
Say the same thing but in shorter sentences. Use shorter words, shorter paragraphs. If visitors read at the same pace, the message will speed up and help to reach what you could call 'activation speed'.
Most Contact pages only provide information: phone number, email address, office address, sometimes a map, often a webform.
Research shows people hate webforms – very few use them. So you could simplify their decision by giving them simpler ways to contact you. In e-commerce, one large button works very well – one press and the decision is made. The details come after: the decision is made as simple as possible.
In summary, your Contact Page is your most important page. If it doesn't work then all your other pages just provide research data for browsers. It is the place where most websites waste space – they just provide dry information and leave would-be clients teetering on the edge.
Your other critical pages are the Home, FAQ, About and Error pages. These five make up the smallest, fastest and lowest-cost re-tuning project provided. Discover 'Just The Essentials' project here.
Use These 3 Exceptionally Persuasive Words To Show People They Directly Benefit With You
The client attraction sequence goes from “I've never heard of them” to “I want them”.
Stage four of the AIDA formula involves potential clients feeling convinced they personally will gain from your services.
Generalisations don't impress people enough to act. Personal benefit from a good fit is what people want.
A persuasive approach is needed to demonstrate your value.
Rather than tell potential clients that they can benefit, it helps greatly to show this.
'Show and tell' is a core method in education for children. It works for adults too and is embedded in medical training.
It makes sense to be sure that your message does not contradict itself. If it is claiming that your people are helpful and yet is difficult to read, difficult to understand or difficult to act on, it is confusing – understandably. It reduces any credibility gained elsewhere. It impairs your reputation.
Here are three ordinary words with extraordinary powers of persuasion. They make great sense to likely clients. They will help you review your current messages.
Use the word 'Imagine'
The journey from beginning to think about taking a service to actually saying yes has several steps.
One of them is the move from knowing about the possibility to forming an active relationship with the product or service-provider.
Next the choice to consider the results of the decision to instruct – the value of the outcome of the professional service – is unavoidable.
Then we tend to worry about the price... and that is what can stop us: "will it be worth it?"
A useful bridge is the suggestion to imagine the outcome. 'Imagine' is a halfway house.
With a physical product, the bridge is imagining actually using the product and enjoying the benefits of those results. So spreading out into a new extension at home. Mowing the lawn quicker and with less mess with a new mower. Or sharing the new family sofa.
Imagine gaining more enquires through a really persuasive website
Being asked to imagine the results is much less threatening than being asked to pay for them. It's an easier decision.
We know the price, we know we have to pay later. But for now... seeing yourself doing it, using it being supported by it is an easy step forwards.
This only works in writing that speaks directly to potential clients.
But most businesses (and professional firms) write about themselves and the products and services they offer. They use this style on websites, leaflets, brochures, articles, blog posts and so on.
Simply inserting the word 'imagine' here and there will startle rather than reassure.
So it can mean changing the point of view in your writing – see Talk person-to-person below.
Use the word 'Because'
Would-be clients reading your website contents are dong research. They want information. And most websites provide relevant information.
But most clients want more. They want explanations. Why is it so? How does it work? When? Where?
Enquiries are prompted by feelings more than facts. Welcome, warmth and trust are keys.
So you want your website to work hard to form early bonds with potential clients. Your aim is to evoke feelings like warm, nice, helpful... and approachable.
One word helps identify an engaging style of writing: 'because'. Simply, this word signifies an explanation. It warms people to your message: they become more patient and keep reading your message.
But there's more: psychology research proved that 'because' has a major effect on their decision-making. People are statistically half-again as willing to cooperate. A request that first got 60% acceptance went up to 93 or 94% acceptance after a 'because' was added to the sentence.
Because you want to show that you are really helpful -
I suggest you check your website with this 3 minute DIY Survey: Does Your Website Warm Up Or Put Off People?
Using 'because' also works best with fairly direct speech. “Because you will get...” sounds much more interesting than “because people can...”.
Achieve this by writing in a style of speaking TO potential clients rather than speaking AT them:
Speaking TO people involves talking about subjects related to them, using words deliberately chosen to engage them and considering their thought processes – with a view to them entering into a dialogue.
This a relationship-building invitation. Done well it feels charming.
Speaking AT people involves talking about subjects important to you regardless of whether they are relevant to your audience – with no aim of initiating a dialogue.
This is basically an ex-cathedra announcement. It feels dry, uncaring or arrogant.
One simple way to write directly to people is to include the word 'you' in most sentences.
I suggest you check your Homepage and your Contact Page – amongst the most important pages on your website – and count how many times 'you' appears per sentence on average.
If you find less than half, I would call an alert; less than a quarter, call an alarm; under 10%, call for all-out action.
The Instant Method Secret
How to check? This method will take you about two minutes.
On your chosen webpage, use Control-F to find how many full stops you have. That tells you roughly how many sentences you have.
Use the same method to find out how many appearances of 'you' there are. Compare.
Reflect on what you prefer in a new situation: an invitation or a technical specification.
Convince First-Time Website Browsers To Ask For A Consultation
When people browse your website but don't ask for a consultation, you have lost an opportunity.
That forfeits a fee, makes your website more expensive per client and can compromise your reputation. That's a problem, I think.
It suggests success in attracting potential clients to the website, but failure to encourage the next practical step.
Most firms probably don't know how many browsers 'decline them' like that. And yet in a competitive market-place, this is a key issue for marketing strategy.
Therefore, it has to be your responsibility to 'think outside the box'. Creating the most suitable marketing strategy and implementation to make your firm attractive to the clients you want to attract must lie with you.
Buying a house, a business or any other item with significant risk, is a buyer-beware situation. Due diligence is not only sensible, it is often unavoidable as many lenders will want to see evidence of that work.
Professionals know all about caveat emptor. But applying the concept to the process of helping new clients to instruct you? That's a bit different.
So the question becomes: how can you anticipate the concerns clients will have about working with you - and then provide answers and explanations as quickly as possible?
The communication channel is obvious: your website.
The answers are not so obvious.
Unlike traditional commercial products and services, professional services have no tangible product.
There is very little to show photos of. There is no visible 'thing' that results from it. Our services are invisible.
In some cases, results can be represented symbolically. So conveyancers illustrate completion with a bunch of house-keys. Contracts agreed are shown through shaking hands. Accountant's success can be implied with a bulging purse.
But any service that you may provide could have an element of uncertainty. In fact, the whole need for a professional is often because of the uncertainty.
Clients want you to reduce that very uncertainty.
To ensure a house being purchased is sound. To ensure that no tax issue is overlooked. To ensure a disagreement creates least damage.
So how can you ethically identify an advantage can you offer, prove it credibly and relate it to the first-time potential now-warming client, convincingly?
Superlatives like 'best', 'fastest' or 'cheapest' are not very suitable. And claims like 'leading', 'strong' or 'recognised' make little impression as most lay-people do not know what to make of them.
Mind The Gap
The simplest way to reduce uncertainty is to close the gap.
That is, to minimise the unknown.
Provide useful information about their next step.
Describe in fair detail as much as possible about what you can guarantee. Provide reassurance. Reduce uncertainty.
The most obvious area to use is your own internal processes.
From first-enquiry to signed contract, you can inform would-be clients about what to expect at the beginning of the process.
Reassured on this aspect, they are more likely to understand that you can't guarantee the outcome.
1. Describe your process in bite-sized chunks
People need to see sufficient detail to understand a unfamiliar process.
Remember, your professional service is a mystical art to almost everyone outside your professional community.
Similarly, you probably don't know much of the detail about my service. As an example, my own introduction process has 10 steps. Yours could have fewer (I've seen a conveyancing firm show 5 steps), or you could expand into more detail.
2. Tell the story as they will travel it
Reducing the emotional gap means describing the process that they will experience in detail. This is a different viewpoint to your internal administrative one.
At it's most fundamental, this means using the word 'you' and 'your' in almost every sentence, instead of 'we', 'our' and 'us'. (See Use These 3 Exceptionally Persuasive Words To Show People They Directly Benefit With You, above)
3. Demonstrate the logical progression
Rather than list the steps in any other order, show the best sequence.
Of course on the day, you can repeat steps, skip steps and insert additional steps if need be.
4. And make yourselves stand out
I researched the Internet to discover how many law firms provide this information. I estimate that only 2% of solicitors do.
Some of them, I noticed, get great prominence on Google's page one by doing so. Even if you can't achieve that, it all helps as Google gives credit for every way you help the clients you both share!
You will stand out as really helpful and practical if you do!
You can improve each step to differentiate your firm from rivals.
I explore the full pathway of at least twelve steps from first-enquiry to loyal-client in another article: 'How Every Stepping Stone Helps Your Firm Gain More Clients'. I make the point that "your whole sequence needs to work well. One missing step stops the journey. Several wobbly steps erodes confidence... and many will turn back to find a better pathway elsewhere". The client is lost before they have even experienced your professional services!
5. If I can perhaps help you with this development...
(because I've had a career-ful of thinking about people's wants and wishes from their point of view, and thinking outside the box. I can quickly tune in to your situation and write the explanations your clients will want)... please get in touch.