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How To Market a Professional Services Firm

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How to win new clients, get more work from existing clients and build your brand.

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How To Market a Professional Services Firm

  1. 1. Marketing a Professional Services Firm A practical approach.... 11th October 2013
  2. 2. Agenda 1. Theory first • • 6 strategies of PS Marketing Return on marketing investment 2. Get practical • • Focus on each strategy – one by one Identify some action points
  3. 3. More action(95%) than theory(5%) (Discipline, commitment, hard work)
  4. 4. Pick 6 Max and commit to 3....
  5. 5. Marketing Strategy For a Professional Service Firm
  6. 6. Two Core Marketing Strategies 1. Marketing to New Clients 6 Tactics 2. Marketing to Existing clients
  7. 7. 6 Business Development Tactics Brand Brand Nurturing Courting New Clients Existing Clients Superpleasing Brand Broadcasting Listening Brand
  8. 8. Substantial work in each strategy Ultimate goal is to progress all 6 6 spinning plates
  9. 9. “Solution is to choose a small number of the most effective activities and do them consistently” CJ Hayden Get Clients Now
  10. 10. Where should you spend your time ?
  11. 11. Return on Investment Prospect Clients Existing Clients Need Identified Superpleasing (WOM) Courting Highest ROI Joint #2 Need not Identified Nurturing Broadcasting Lowest ROI Source: David Maister
  12. 12. Practical Focus Start with existing clients
  13. 13. Superpleasing Ouzos Parking Angels
  14. 14. What is Superpleasing • Exceeding existing clients’ expectations so that they will go out of their way to recommend you to others.
  15. 15. Did you get good service ? Two Concepts Technical Service Servicing the Customer Car Service Spark Plugs, Oil Filters Communication, coffee, money Medical Availability, Affability, Ability (in that order!) Professional Service Tax Return, Contracts, Audit Technical Drawing, Conveyance Trust, communication, money matters, extra mile, golden moment.
  16. 16. Golden Moments • Avis – Love bombs deliver 98% repeat. • Solicitors – Flowers win business • Accountants - Find your fee • Call to say “thanks” for the cheque. • Don’t worry – I’ll drop it out to you • The carpenter and the rabbit
  17. 17. More Superpleasing ideas • The car mechanic • I’ll drop you to the dart • The bar man • Take a seat and I’ll drop it down to you • The accountant • I got your books – we’ll start them on Monday and finish in two weeks. • The lawyer • It will cost €4000 – I’ll charge you €2k upfront and €2k at end of April.
  18. 18. “It ain’t what you do it’s the way that you do it – that’s what gets results” • We experience Professional Service work • The Professional Service experience comprises technical work and customer service • We need to do good technical work and service the customer to provide a positive experience • Satisfaction Equation - Satisfaction = Perception – Expectation • Good (or even excellent) technical work is expected • Servicing the customer has greater potential to affect the customer experience than the technical work.
  19. 19. Source of the opportunity • Very little dissatisfaction with Professional Service firms on a technical level • High levels of dissatisfaction on a client service level » Source: Shultz Doerr 2009
  20. 20. What could you do ?
  21. 21. Superpleasing Ideas 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Commitment (which of the above you definitely commit to)
  22. 22. Nurturing
  23. 23. A planned programme for Nurturing existing clients
  24. 24. Finding and winning additional business from existing clients outside the current remit. “This requires an investment of unbillable time in marketing to existing clients” David Maister
  25. 25. Benefits of Nurturing • Higher probability prospects • Confidence and trust • Understanding client concerns • Non competitive • Cost of acquisition is lower • Client industry is known • More Profitable • Fewer write offs • Less fee sensitive Compared to new clients
  26. 26. Nurturing Strategies 1. Creating awareness of an additional service need (Where the client is unaware of the need) • • • Build trust and confidence on existing engagement – going the extra mile Increase knowledge of clients industry, business, organisation and of the client Pursue the next engagement 2. Cross selling additional services
  27. 27. Nurturing Activities • Increase client contact – outside of a transaction • Unbilled time for office visits • Attending client internal meetings & social events • Running client seminars or reverse seminars • Desk research • Useful articles from client industry magazines • Client competitor analysis • White papers on client issues • Partner introductions
  28. 28. Nurturing Plan • Picking your targets based on potential and relationships • Allocating responsibility • One page marketing plan • Develop a system that rewards new business from existing clients • Setting a budget for non billable time for existing client development
  29. 29. Managing Nurturing • • • • • • • All client facing partners involved Work in small teams Focus on one Focussed on key clients key client Per week Led by client partner Develop a plan per client Involve junior staff Individual action plans, responsibilities and timelines
  30. 30. Quarterly Client Plan Client Standout Responsibility Timing Budget Time Site visit PB 31-Jan 4 hrs € 800 Organisation chart JR 25 - Nov 1 hrs €200 Activity Description Budget Cost
  31. 31. What could you do ?
  32. 32. Nurturing Ideas 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Commitment (which of the above you definitely commit to)
  33. 33. Listening Where marketing started
  34. 34. Listening Process Set up a structured feedback loop • Letters after each engagement • Face to face interviews – 3rd party • Not by the service provider • An online client feedback system after every assignment or once even annually. • Telemarketing & online
  35. 35. The value of Listening is in .... • Monitoring performance • Independent, depersonalised • Predicting needs • What services will clients need in the future • Based on their plans • Motivational – people know that its happening • Sets a common standard of performance • Objective content for performance reviews • Linking the reward structure of the firm to the staff and partners’ performance
  36. 36. Practical Examples • Client Interviews (Internal manager) • Feedback into Managing Partner • Resource requirements • Recruitment planning Law Firm • Staff and Client Interviews (External) • Feeds into strategic positioning and communication • Internal process – Value Chain Retail Business
  37. 37. What could you do ?
  38. 38. Listening Ideas 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Commitment (which of the above you definitely commit to)
  39. 39. Broadcasting Attracting new clients
  40. 40. Demonstrate Competence • To attract new clients.... • You must demonstrate competence to the right audience
  41. 41. Holy Grail • Demonstration one on one and face to face is the ideal but not always possible • What are the next best things to do ? • Demonstration face to face but one to many • Demonstration but not face to face • Judge all activity against the Holy Grail
  42. 42. Tier 1 - Tried & Tested • Small scale seminars • Speeches to target industry meetings • (not to fellow professional unless they give you business) • Article writing – in client industry media • Proprietary research – white papers • Forms a great platform for seminars, speeches and articles Practical Innovation
  43. 43. You have to consider digital
  44. 44. But there’s more....
  45. 45. Its easy to start drowning
  46. 46. Tier 2 - Support • Digital Marketing – that demonstrate • Blogs, webinars, podcasts, social media. • Networking with referral sources • Community / Civic activity • Newsletters Less direct, more time consuming
  47. 47. Tier 3 (Clutching at straws) • • • • • • • • Publicity/PR Brochures Ballroom scale seminars Direct Mail Cold calls /Telesales Sponsorship – sports or cultural events Advertising Video Brochures Not face to face & do not demonstrate competence
  48. 48. Practical Advice - Focus • Spending money on marketing is so easy • Lots of ways to spend it and people to take it ! • Making it work for you is the tricky bit • Apply the Raspberry Jam rule • The thinner you spread it the less effective it gets • Pick a few core strategies and do them well
  49. 49. Identify your ideal target (Maximise client value probability) Ideal Profile • What sectors deliver most of your current income ? • What sectors are growing ? • What are you best at ? • Where are you well connected ?
  50. 50. What could you do ?
  51. 51. Broadcasting Ideas 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Commitment (which of the above you definitely commit to)
  52. 52. Courting
  53. 53. Courting a Prospect “Traditionally thought of as selling or proposing to a single new prospect but is more akin to a courtship” David Maister
  54. 54. Courting Occasions • Courting involves pursuing a prospect who has identified their need for a professional service. • This could be an invitation to present credentials, a three way pitch, a tender, an enquiry or a referral
  55. 55. Tender Example
  56. 56. Two Parts • Two parts often to the tendering process 1. Written submission 2. Short list interviews
  57. 57. Central Point • PS firms rarely have unique skills • Tenders are rarely if ever granted on the basis of technical competence • Stage 1 – sorts out those who can from those who cannot based on resource, capacity, technical ability and experience • Stage 2 – all participants can do the work. So what are the decision making criteria ?
  58. 58. And the winner is ..... “What I the client want is that rare professional who has both the technical skills and a sincere desire to be helpful and to work with me and my problem”
  59. 59. Start with the buyer’s needs? • • • • • • • • • They have a problem They lack the knowledge to solve it They need help They are vulnerable and threatened They are dependent They will be cautious – no risk taking here Looking for danger signals They need reassurance They have to sell you.
  60. 60. Who would they choose ? • Someone who is helpful • Someone who listens carefully • Someone who helps to frame their problem and gets buy-in from the buyer • Someone who set about outlining possible solutions • Someone with interesting ideas • Someone who makes the client feel important • Someone who explains costs and value • Someone they like !
  61. 61. Before you start... • Tendering is very time consuming • Costly distraction if you lose • Consider carefully what the buyer wants • Capability, capacity, relevant experience • Know that it will be competitive Decide if its worthwhile
  62. 62. Take the pain once • Prepare a tender library • • • • • • Organisation charts Accounts Insurance documents Accreditation documents References Key Staff Bio’s
  63. 63. Recognise the 2 stages • Stage 1 • • • • Answer the questions like an exam Before submission review the tender request Consider the weightings Have we answered the questions • Stage 2 • • • • Demonstrate competence Find similar case studies if possible Give an opinion Be helpful
  64. 64. Courting Skills and Activities • Pitch preparation • Its about them – not you • Presentation skills • Sales skills • Unlocking the prospects pain • Give before you receive • Developing empathy • Role playing • Creating a positive impression • Rational & emotional • Closing skills • Handling objections Ongoing training and ad hoc work is required
  65. 65. What could you do ?
  66. 66. Courting Ideas 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Commitment (which of the above you definitely commit to)
  67. 67. Brand
  68. 68. The Brand Halo Effect Brand Brand Nurturing Courting New Business Existing Clients Superpleasing Brand Broadcasting Listening Brand
  69. 69. Professional Service Brands • Typically we think of Coca Cola, Kellogg’s, Guinness, Nike, Apple • In Professional Services e.g. Accountancy • PWC, KPMG, Ernst and Young, Arthur Andersen ! • In lrish law we think of the top 5 • Arthur Cox, A&L Goodbody, MOP, McCann Fitzgerald and William Fry
  70. 70. What is brand ? • A brand is not • A name • Logo or brochure or a web site • A corporate identity • A brand is shorthand for what your clients think and feel about you • What you do, what you’re good at, what you cost • How you behave, big or small, slick or sloppy. • Young and hip, tired or market leader
  71. 71. Where do they get these ideas • The markets you serve • The services you offer • The things you say • The things you do • The people you hire • Awareness levels • • • • Your clients Your offices The way you dress The people you associate with • The way you behave • Marketing activity Its all been driven by you Its strategic
  72. 72. Brand = Credibility • • • • • Radio News “Mary Murphy – tax partner of PWC said .......” “Mary Murphy – of Murphy & Co said .......” Same Mary Murphy – different impact Mary Murphy 2 – no established credibility Mary Murphy 1 – massive credibility • Long standing international reputation • Built up over many years
  73. 73. Benefits of a strong brand 1. More Conversations • If somebody needs expertise and you have a reputation in that field they call you. 2. Better conversion rates • You never get fired for choosing IBM – Why? International reputation for being the best • The choice is made easy 3. Higher Fees • Stronger reputation commands highest fees 4. Best recruits • The best attracts the best
  74. 74. What do I want people to think about us ?
  75. 75. Brand Decisions • Strategic Decisions • • • • • What markets we want to serve What services we want to provide What clients we want to work with Who you want to hire How we want to behave – (“the Be-attitudes”) • Communication Strategy • What you want to say • How and where you want to say it • LAST - What you should look like
  76. 76. Brand is too important to leave to marketing • Brand = Experience + Expression • Marketing can only handle Expression • Who determines experience ? • Who sets the behaviour of all members of the firm • Who can set the standards based on core values • Who can enforce the behaviours that back it up ? • Starts with the Managing Partner !
  77. 77. What could you do ?
  78. 78. Branding Ideas 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Commitment (which of the above you definitely commit to)
  79. 79. Top 3 Commitments 6 Commitments • 1. Top 3 • 1. • 2. • 3. • 2. • 4. • 5 • 6 • 3
  80. 80. Next Steps • Follow up sessions • Session 1 – How to attract new clients • Traditional and Digital techniques. • Date: 21st November 2013 • https://standoutnewclients.eventbrite.ie/ • Session 2 - Building your brand • The what and the how of building your brand • Session 3 - Marketing to existing clients • Superpleasing and Nurturing
  81. 81. Contact Me pbanks@standout.ie 086-2352054

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