April 25, 2017

Why Do You Need Marketing for Your Professional Practice?

Because good marketing produces three outcomes that are essential to growing your practice.

grow your services firm

Your target audience has options, They can find any number of service providers to solve their problems. You really have no choice but to start wrapping your mind around the need for more effective marketing and sales, or business development as a whole.

The reason is pretty simple. The growth of your practice depends on it. Here are three reasons why.

1- You Get On the List

The Rain group located in Natick Massachusetts is a professional services marketing and sales firm that has been around a while. In their book, Professional Services Marketing, they discuss a study they conducted to ascertain how people buy professional services.

As expected, asking a friend or colleague is at the top of the chart. Coming in second is that people already have a list of potential providers in mind. What does this mean?

It means that the people who need your services have a preliminary list of candidates to select from. It also means that the people who refer you have a preliminary list of candidates that they might refer when asked.

You want to be on both lists. If you are not, you risk commoditization of your service offerings.

2- You Avoid the Commoditization Trap

Your goal as a service provider is to be seen as so valuable to your clients and prospects that they are willing to pay a premium for the services you provide. 

The worst thing that can happen to your practice is to be lumped in with your competition and be forced to engage in a price war. If your service becomes a commodity, you end up spending all your time competing for less than premium clients, and more for bottom feeders who care about nothing more than getting a discount.

Discount junkies make for bad clients. Bad clients lead to bad profits.

3 – You Sign Good Clients

Not all clients are good, even if they are profitable. Good clients are the ones who value your services, are willing to pay for your services and, most importantly, are willing to tell others about your services.

In The Ultimate Question, Fred Reicheld asserts that companies who grow organically all have one thing in common: a high Net Promoter Score (NPS).

Your NPS is computed by taking a simple survey asking, on a scale of 1 to 10, how likely your client would be to refer your business to people they know. The scale ranks detractors, passives and promoters as to where they check. A 7 to 10 is a promoter and that is the kind of client you want to have. 

There are two ways to create promoters. One is to be awesome at what you do and focus that awesomeness on the clients most likely to be a top promoter.

The other is to sign clients who are more likely to actually appreciate what you do. You know, because some clients will never be happy no matter how much blood sweat and tears you give them.

It is the job of marketing to make sure you are signing serving the needs of the good clients. 

The Job of Marketing

In order to achieve these three critical objectives, you need to:

  • Know who your target audience is
  • Understand their goal driven behaviors
  • Know what they value
  • Know where your target audience hangs out
  • Understand how they make buying decisions
  • Be present with your target audience before they need you
  • Be present with your target audience when they need you
  • Be available to your clients after they sign with you
  • Earn trust
  • Earn a reputation for your expertise
  • Know who you best referral sources are
  • Earn the right to be referred
  • Actually be referred
  • Be chosen once you are referred

All of these things are the job of an effective marketing and business development plan.

What’s At Stake?

This is really a question you need to answer for yourself. If your practice is cruising along, growing organically at an acceptable pace, then you are all set. You don’t need to make a change.

However, if you want to grow organically, instead of having to purchase other practices, or you are not satisfied with the types of clients you serve, then a change is in order. That change will likely include a more refined and comprehensive marketing plan.

It is up to you to decide. I can only tell you how things work. 

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