Monday, September 21, 2009

Back to School

Well, at least back to some basics to start off the work week:

The Three R’s of Professional Services Marketing

C.J. Hayden, MCC

In September of every year, many of us feel an urge to go "back
to school." Even when we haven't attended a class in years, it's
habitual for the end of summer to suggest we should be paying
less attention to family and fun and more to making a living. As
you turn your focus to business this fall, consider how you might
incorporate into your back-to-business agenda the back-to-basics
curriculum of the Three R's of professional services marketing:
relationship, referral, and reach.

#1: Relationship

The cornerstone of every independent professional's marketing
strategy should be relationship-building. If a marketing tactic
you're considering contributes to stronger relationships between
you and your prospects, it's worthy of your attention. If it
doesn't, think twice before using it, and certainly don't rely on

Marketing that leads to better relationships includes activities
like lunch and coffee dates, giving educational talks, and
personal exchanges via phone, email, or social networking.
Marketing that rarely leads to better relationships -- and can
sometimes damage them -- includes phone calls, letters, and
emails with over-the-top hype for your services, anonymous online
ads, and besieging your social networking contacts with
promotional announcements.

Don't be misled by advice pushing the flavor of the week in
marketing. If a new tactic suggested to you isn't
relationship-oriented, it probably isn't worth your time.

#2: Referral

Prospects who come to you by way of a referral are more likely to
become clients than those who you connect with in almost any
other way. They have often already decided to work with you when
you hear from them, and are less likely to question your rates or
your expertise.

Generating more referrals, then, should be an essential component
of your marketing. Instead of expending all your effort on
filling the pipeline with unknown prospects and making cold
approaches, spend more time cultivating relationships with likely
referral sources.

Many professionals mistakenly believe that if they simply provide
good service to their clients, the referrals that naturally
result will be enough. But this is rarely the case. The best
referrals often come from people who have never been your
clients -- members of your trade association or networking group,
other professionals who serve your market, and centers of
influence in your community. Time spent getting to know these
folks better can be much more productive than approaching

#3: Reach

Clients don't appear just because you are there waiting for them.
You have to reach out. In marketing, reach takes many different
forms -- for example, you reaching out to people you already know
to build better relationships, you reaching out to new potential
referral sources, and you reaching outside your comfort zone to
have personal interactions with prospects.

The point is that you do have to reach out rather than simply
wait and react, even though outreach is often more uncomfortable.
It's tempting to rely on build-it-and-they-will-come marketing
like websites consisting solely of sales letters, or online
"networking" platforms populated by people you don't even know,
or classified ads, or directory listings. And there are plenty of
vendors doing their own outreach to sell you on these approaches
so you don't even have to go looking for them.

But if it was really that easy to get clients -- just launch a
website, say, or buy an ad, and you'll have all the clients you
need -- why haven't all the folks selling you these strategies
retired to tropical islands by now?

As far as marketing tactics go, if it sounds too good to be true,
it probably is. So get back to basics with your marketing this
fall. Buld relationships, cultivate referrals, and reach out
proactively to prospects and referral sources rather than waiting
for them to find you. With the Three R's as your guide, you'll
have everything you need to go to the head of the class.

Copyright © 2009, C.J. Hayden

C.J. Hayden is the author of Get Clients Now!™ Thousands of business owners and independent professionals have used her simple sales and marketing system to double or triple their income. Get a free copy of "Five Secrets to Finding All the Clients You'll Ever Need" at

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