How to market professional services

13th October, 2016

People can now easily find information that was once the almost exclusive domain of the professional services firm.

Is the power of the professional services firm diminished?

I meet many small business owners, particularly those in professional services, who hold their knowledge close to their chest.

While it used to be that way, the widespread availability of the internet means that information isn’t the closely guarded secret that it was even a decade ago.

So if knowledge isn’t necessarily power, how can you stay relevant to the customer?

Understand that what you’re selling is the application of your expertise to a specific situation.

Your client may be looking for some general information as well, but what they really want is for you to solve their problem, to take your expert knowledge and apply it to their situation.

Everyone is special

Many people think that the specific circumstances they find themselves in are special or unique.

To an extent it this is true, but rarely will a set of circumstances be as unique as the customer thinks.

This is where an expert’s worth increases considerably. The expert hasn’t just read about what to do – they’ve helped people solve that exact problem before.

They know what the traps and pitfalls are.

For example, a lawyer isn’t selling general legal advice, but rather expertise in solving particular business problems based on experience of solving problems for previous clients.

Knowledge isn’t everything

Knowing what to look out for when it comes to a particular area is one thing. Knowing how to apply that knowledge to solve a problem is another.

You can read various articles on doing your own tax, but that doesn’t mean that you’ll know how to apply what you’ve read to the particular nuances of your situation.

Saving time

Because there is so much information available, sorting through it all and uncovering what to do takes a lot of time.

That’s not to mention the possibility of going down the wrong rabbit hole looking for answers.

As the saying goes, money is time. The more time you can save for your customer, the more likely it is they will be attracted to your service offering.

Sharing information with prospective customers

Knowing all this, how can professional services firms match their customers’ expectations to the service they provide?

Focus on providing information that demonstrates your expertise, educates potential customers on what is important and what key factors they need to consider.

Often this won’t solve their problem, but give them a better insight into what the complexities are.

Many people start out shopping based on price as they don’t have enough information to know what else they should value.

Here are three ways that you can educate your potential customers about what matters and demonstrate your expertise at the same time.

1. Talk about past results

Case studies are a great way to explain how you’ve helped customers in the past and what results were achieved.

This talks to credibility but also allows a potential customer to put themselves in the scenario you’ve described.

2. Share articles, videos and social media updates

By letting potential customers get to know you through content, they get to experience for themselves how you think and approach problems.

This means that you can build trust without having to spend one-on-one time with each reader and is more likely to result in them reaching out to you. That’s a very different conversation than one where you’re pitching for business.

3. Demonstrate understanding of pain points

This can be a very powerful way to engage on a deeper level. The type of material I’m referring to here could be:

  • If you’re an accounting firm, a checklist for deciding how to choose an accountant
  • If you’re a law firm, an online assessment to determine if it’s worth getting legal advice for a potential merger
  • If you’re a mortgage broker, the key considerations when taking out a mortgage for an investment property

It’s about giving the target audience value by using your experience in the field.

At the same time, it helps build your credibility in the eyes of your prospects and demonstrates that you’re keen to help.

Regardless of the type of service you provide, your customers aren’t particularly interested in your service. What they’re interested in is you helping them solve a problem.

Focusing on the payoff for using your service rather than the technical details is more likely to build trust that you understand what they want.