How Can We Get More Productivity AND Easier Marketing?
Professional Services Do not 'just sell Themselves'.
That would be nice, but because firms offer such similar services - which tend to be unfamiliar to clients - they often see too many similarities to choose on that basis. Marketing makes the difference.
As A Qualified Professional
...your training will have developed your knowledge & skills for that profession.
But probably not about the professional skills of marketing your profession.
Your Development Challenge:
Long-established marketers say that poor marketing costs as much as good marketing.
Here are ways to get the best results that boost your bottom line.
1. Attract BETTER Clients More Happy With Your Priorities
Use the Business psychology of happy clients
Better clients for your firm are those who are more in tune with your organisation, so:
- They approach you confidently
- They respond fully & quickly to your queries
- They return for more help
- They convince their friends to call
- They leave nice reviews
- They follow your social media posts
- They make helpful suggestions
- They complain less than other clients
- They pay you on time
Any firm would say that makes them preferable, wouldn't they?
How to attract BETTER clients?
Nowadays, most people enquiring for a professional service have done 70% of their decision-making research BEFORE they contact you. Much of this will be online:
- Your firm's own website
- Reviews about your services
- Facebook and other social media
- LinkedIn and other professional sites
Your own website will probably give them the most information, and the widest-ranging variety of information relevant to your firm. Interestingly, it is the most direct communication channel they can find until they start to speak to you in person.
And that makes it your most useful channel because you have almost instant control over it.
Use Client-Friendly Marketing
Aim To Help Clients Tune-In To Your Firm's Priorities
You have the opportunity to tune your website to attract more suitable clients, not just any clients.
You could attract clients who are most suitable for:
- a particular department as staffing levels rise or fall
- a particular specialism as training levels improve
- higher profiles as you build your reputation
- more online reviews to cut advertising costs
- ...or for other reasons to suit your age and stage
For instance, if you wanted to help your administration, you could encourage cooperative clients who are prompt for appointments, fully informative in replying to queries, organised in sending information and documents, etc.
You can filter out those less suitable would-be clients by making your expectations clear early on, and throughout your Client-Attracting Process. This will save you time, hassle and money.
The more you define IDEAL clients, and set out to attract them, the more productivity you are likely to notice. And alongside this, profitability will follow – enabling growth, building works, new trainings, improved morale, wider marketing, better reserves and so on.
"The best way to predict the future is to create it yourself." (Abraham Lincoln)
Planning the future like this is a duty of the firm's leadership. By dynamically evolving the Ideal Client, and advertising as things change - or a little beforehand - marketing becomes a change management tool.
2. Encourage Your Clients To Actively Help Your Productivity
You can influence your clients to be more co-operative with your various processes:
- as you inform them during their journey towards you
- after they have become clients – while working with you
How To Equip Potential Clients To Instruct You Confidently
Most obviously, you can tell potential clients about your Client-Attracting Pathway so that they are mentally prepared for the various steps it takes. In doing so, you can also encourage them to prepare papers, digital files maps and explanations, etc.
Gently Nudge Clients:
Another area of co-operation can relate to how you want clients to work with you.
- In engineering and architecture, for instance, there are cycles of development followed by liaison and decision-making. Guiding your clients as to what to expect in these cycles, and how to provide answers to your queries, can boost their confidence AND save you time.
- In accounting, there are legal timescales and penalties that define optimal ways of working and frame the timing of clients' communications. Encouraging timeliness can significantly help your teamwork efficiency.
By explaining the issues that influence your productivity and showing clients how that affects their project, you can influence their interaction with your firm in mutually beneficial ways. And rather than explain that individually to every client, you can write this material once and present it online.
You could encourage:
- faster payment to smooth out a lumpy cashflow
- more amenable stage payments to reduce work-in-hand
- faster answers to your small queries to save you time
- more recommendations to friends and colleagues
- better loyalty and forward planning for future issues
Your website is capable of multi-tasking - doing several jobs for you. It is up to you to arrange this.
The last point above can be implemented through providing special webpages for clients as they join. Most people like to feel cared for, and belonging to a club - especially an exclusive club - can make the humdrum into a positive experience.
While this might sound a bit futuristic, it is perfectly practical as most Professional Regulators do exactly this to track their registrant's CPD activities.
This is a whole new venture requiring a lot of development work, and so dependent on senior management authorisation.
3. Design Your Systems To Save Time, Money & Worry
Stress in professional work is getting worse
A new industry report says that despite high levels of job satisfaction, most solicitors are under great stress. “Over 60% of the solicitors we spoke with articulate high levels of stress, with 1 in 4 experiencing extreme or very high levels.”
Most indicators they measured show the stress is worse than last year.
The research identified six causes of stress impacting solicitors of every grade:
Four could be called professional issues.
They all relate back to the skills of basic professional training.
They are about time-consuming hard work.
The other two causes are about clients.
They are not related to the professional work, but about the flow of fee-paying clients.
These are about hard-to-control issues.
The most recent figures show that the marketing issues are slightly more stressful than the professional issues.
(In case it might be helpful, we should mention that the LexisNexis report goes on to consider: 'Can firms do more to help solicitors manage their stress?' and supplies supportive info'.)
CLIENT-ATTRACTING SUCCESS DEPENDS ON MARKETING SKILLS
But so many professionals say: “Marketing is an area that always suffers. It tends to be something people put on the back burner.”
How To Embed marketing messages To make Productivity easier
It is often NOT more marketing that will make a difference, but better marketing.
You'd agree 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.
A systematic revitalising push for all the steps on your Client-Attracting Pathway will result in a more reliable process. You already have a pathway: we are proposing to quietly tune-up your processes.
Once set in place, these small changes in your marketing methods improve your client-care work.
Choose Your Target Outcome:
- Fewer unexplained no-shows, saving your time and temper.
- More coherence within the team, leading to greater productivity.
- Clients will notice the smooth-functioning service quality.
- And your staff can focus more on professional matters rather than marketing matters.
- Productivity is boosted, profitability benefits and your reputation for caring will improve.
All resulting in less stress, better cashflow and a more reliable future.
With all the stages of your Pathway working harder for you, your marketing will take less time out of the working week. If some of that also improves the quality of service provided by the firm, it is likely to boost the firm's reputation. And that makes referral, recommendation and returning clients all the more likely.
The marketing discipline can help inside the firm too
Internal documents, procedures and reminders also influence behaviour - for staff and clients.
Real Opportunities for instance:
- Encouraging coherence in a dispersed team
- Simplifying paperwork to save time and reduce stress
- Improving client satisfaction to boost repeat business
These are about communications-led human issues, rather than professional knowledge, skills and judgement.
Work smarter, not harder!
Stress affects the productivity of professional firms.
Productivity is reduced by too-high stress levels, and lowered productivity causes stress... sometimes in a circular fashion.
Can Marketing Help Us Work Smarter?
Yes - Reworking key parts of your client-attraction systems with a client's perspective (that is, from a marketing angle) can help your clients AND help your people. Three quite different benefits can result, with a little care in design: enhancing teamwork, easier-to-use paperwork and encouraging client bonding.
Well-written websites have many benefits:
80.8% of people start with an online search about things they're not familiar with (like professional services!). So it makes sense to provide them with the information they want.
Websites are very useful in changing situations because you can update your details within minutes and Google will have noticed in less than an hour.
Well-written websites help potential clients:
- To find the information they want quicker
- To understand unfamiliar issues better
- To contact you first
And they help your firm:
- Manage client-flow better
- Manage cash-flow better
- And perhaps grow up to four times faster
A key factor in this is:
'Give people what they actually want.'
When they search your website they want answers to their natural questions. This will influence potential clients' decisions: they will be impressed and reassured by this evidence of your human and caring attitude, and will be:
- more likely to read the rest of your website more thoroughly
- more likely to shortlist your firm
- and more likely to email or phone you, sooner
If people cannot find answers to these questions, they are likely to abandon that website and check a competing one.
This is an easy way to differentiate your firm from others who provide very few of these answers.
Well-written papers, emails and telephone answers work wonders
Often thought of as administrative processes, many communications will have an influence on both the client and the professional. Systematically revising a variety of seemingly simple processes can significantly improve the client experience.
This can make a huge difference to the outcome of the steps in the Client-Attracting Pathway - and by improving the working relationship, perhaps the professional work itself.
More productivity can be gained from easier marketing through small changes that ease the human aspects of the real-life situation. This is most effective if every step of your client attraction sequence is revised to minimise disruptions and contradictions and maximise small opportunities to confirm and amplify effects.