Sure, people in professional services need to be good at what they do, but their audience hopes that’s a given. Sometimes even the best of the best have a hard time growing their business because they are so focused on the services they provide, they just don’t dedicate time to the growth of their company (or simply don’t know where to start to do that).
Whether you’re in accounting, law, tech consulting, or provide any other professional service, the advice below still applies if you want to separate yourself from the competition and grow your business.
Common traits I hear from my professional service-based clients include:
- Business to-date is primarily from referrals and word of mouth
- They’re successful to an extent but could be more successful with the right strategy in place
- Scaling is intimidating and it’s unclear how to do it effectively
To take control of your growth efforts, take some of my advice below.
Identify your ideal client
This notion goes above and beyond simply identifying and understanding your target audience. While that’s important, it’s equally important to understand the types of clients you want to work with. This will make both your life and your client’s life easier. Ask yourself the following:
- Who needs the services you provide?
- Who can you deliver the greatest value to?
- Who do you enjoy working with?
Think about your best clients today and what makes them ideal for you so that you can apply it to attracting new clients moving forward. Take the following into consideration when developing these ideal clients:
- What are the must-haves to be a client (this will help you narrow down your list)?
- What attributes are you looking for in a client (not required, but preferred)?
- What makes them ideal?
- What behaviors signal that they are the right fit for you?
Once you can answer these questions, put the list together and keep it nearby to help qualify prospects moving forward. This will help to ensure you don’t waste time spinning your wheels on the wrong candidates.
Develop a promise
Once you have your ideal client in mind, it’s important that you create a clear promise for them that can help you articulate you understand their wants and needs and that you are the right business to help them.
What’s tough about professional services is that they’re intangible, which is what makes your promise (and that you live up to your promise) so important. The promise needs to reinforce that you can help them reach their goals.
In addition to your promise, make your distinct point of view and point of differentiation from your competitors clear. This will help to separate you from the rest of the crowd.
I have a friend that owns an SEO firm and he basically says, “All you need to know about SEO is that we make the phone ring.” He doesn’t dive into how his business works, or SEO jargon, he gets to the root of what his clients care about and how he’ll help to get them what they want. See how that works?
Focus on problems, not solutions
What I’m essentially saying here, is focus on what your ideal clients are experiencing, not your services. People don’t really care about what you sell. All they care about are that their problems are solved and that you can help them solve them.
How to figure out your client’s problems
It’s important that you solve these problems early on in the customer journey. You need to get very good at understanding your ideal client’s intent because that’s where the data is that you’re looking for. To do this:
- Master keyword research
- Use online tools (like Answer the Public)
- Look at your reviews
- Read past emails
- Ask your team who interacts with your clients what problems they’ve picked up on through conversations
You can even reach out to current clients to get the information you’re looking for. Here’s a list of questions that may be useful to ask them:
- What are their goals and dreams?
- How do they gather information to solve their problems?
- What are some things that are important to them?
- Do you know what the biggest unmet need is in your marketplace?
- What is the biggest pain point your customer experiences?
- How hard have you worked to try to solve their problems in the past?
- Why is the problem so hard for them to solve?
- Who else is trying to solve the problem and how are they approaching it?
- What does success look like to them?
- What might hold them back from buying a product or service?
- How do they come to a purchase decision?
Solving the problem
Once you have all the information mentioned above, you can actually start to solve their problems.
- Start by refocusing your messaging and match your message to your ideal client so that it resonates with them quickly.
- Take some time and break down every solution you sell, every benefit you attribute to what you do, and map it back to a handful of “trigger phrases.”
- Develop an attention-grabbing headline to put on your website (think back to your promise with this one).
- Through content, show them that you are experts in the field that will help to make their pain points go away. Providing actionable advice can go a long way.
- Be responsive to comments, emails, and social media in an effort to build trust and establish a connection.
Provide an excellent customer experience
So many people are focused on the changes in marketing and all the new things we have to master and pay attention to.
The fact is the most significant driver of change today isn’t the way marketing is changing, it’s the way buying is changing.
With clients now in charge of their buying journey, the most important marketing element still left in our control is the customer experience.
While they are in charge of their journey, it’s your job to influence it, and in my opinion, this starts with your website.
Your website today is the jumping in point of the customer journey. Its job is to lead and guide prospects into a journey of awareness, trust, knowledge, insight, and conversion. All your ideal client wants is a frictionless path to the information or action they’ve gone there to find. Website design should be renamed customer experience design.
Additionally, when it comes to the customer experience, the most tenuous point of the relationship is the beginning. Once a person becomes a client, you must look at their first 90 days as a trial period where your entire goal is to construct the type of experience that can only turn them into a raving fan (and great referral source down the road!).
At the end of the day, businesses that deliver the best customer experience do so because they care about helping the people they serve.
There are many other important factors that lead to a successful business, but nailing the points mentioned above is a great start. What have you found to be helpful in growing your business?
Need more tips on how to grow your business? Check out our entire Guide to Marketing Professional Services.