Professional Services Marketing Part 14

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* Use mail in conjunction with other tactics, such as telephone and e-mail, to increase effectiveness.

* Like advertising, think of direct mail as an ongoing communication mechanism, not an event. It's more powerful when it continues over time to the same audience.

* Direct mail is both art and science. Take care to know the science side very wel (or get someone who does).

Common mistakes * Expectations for direct mail success that are unrealistic. For example, we constantly see people mail 300 invitations hoping to get 25 people to their seminar, only to be disappointed when they get only a handful (if they are lucky). You might have read, "Average response rates for direct mail are 1 percent to 2 percent." These averages are useless. Responses can be as high as 10 percent and as low as 0.05 percent due to factors that start with the list and include offer; message and copy; package (letter, postcard, three-dimensional mailer, etc.); price of offer (if there is one); and al the rest of the direct mail success factors.

* Lists and databases that are old, smal , and inaccurate. You can only be as successful as your database is clean and fresh. There is no cutting corners in this area.

* Direct mail without an offer or, even worse, offers like "buy my service" or "let us be your trusted advisor" that are often not approprate for direct mail.

* Weak copy and creative that hurt your brand.

* Direct mail as a one-shot effort.

Telephone It's not hard to find arguments against cold cal ing in professional services. We have even seen cold cal ing compared to ramming your head repeatedly against a wal . Srong imagery, indeed, but misplaced when it comes to cold cal ing.

For the most part, anti-cold caling sentiment stems from: * Poor cold cal ing skil s.

* Bad reputation (business-to-business telephone sel ing is not like the telemarketing cal you might get during dinner).

* Inapprorpiate implementation.

* Personal and emotional desire of individuals not to use cold cal ing, especial y if they must make the cal s themselves.

Much like direct mail, cold cal ing can, and often should, be a major part of lead generation and business development. Add the right skil , strong implementation, and positive energy and desire, and cold cal ing can be a major factor in your firm's growth and success.

Keep in mind as wel that the telephone can be used for more than cold caling. It can be used for research, warm caling, and general relations.h.i.+p development and maintenance. This may sound rather obvious, but people don't use the telephone to reach out to prospects or reconnect with clients often enough.

Typically good for: * Making introductions with top prospects and referral sources.

* Developing, maintaining, nurturing relations.h.i.+ps.

* Getting responses to specific offers.

* Generating event attendance.

* Reaching a highly targeted, wel -defined audience.

* Jump-starting your pipeline.

* Sel ing complex, high-end services.

Words of wisdom * Don't ask your professional staff to make the initial cal s unless they have the skil s and desire to do so. Not much good usual y happens.

* Prepare a good reason to cal from the buyer's perspective; don't just pitch services.

* Deliver value in the telephone cal itself.

* Choose the right person to do the cal ing: right experience level, right skil , right att.i.tude.

* Cal in blocks of time; getting on a rol is important.

* Cal each target, client, and referral source with the right frequency; too much and you can annoy them, not enough and you don't break through.

Common mistakes * People who lack skil and desire make the cal s and fail.

* Cal reluctance creates procrastination and dul s cold cal ing activity.

* Robotic cal ing and cal ing from a script.

* No value for the prospect in the phone cal .

* Poor target lists.

* Poor fol ow-up; lack of fol ow-up.

* Poor record keeping and database management.

* Cal ing with nothing else in your tool kit. Brand and integrated marketing such as thought leaders.h.i.+p, direct mail, e-mail, strong web sites, and so on make cal ing much more effective.

E-Mail Along with the telephone and direct mail, e-mail is the third major leg of the direct communications tool kit. Use of e-mail varies in frequency and level of sophistication, but it's a part of almost al professional service firms' marketing and sales strategies.

You can view e-mail in two major categories: personal and bulk. Personal e-mail involves opening your e-mail program, typing an e-mail, and sending it to a person yourself. Bulk e-mail is sending similar e-mails to many people, typical y using an automated program.

That we cal it bulk e-mail does not mean you should equate it with spam, and it may also be "from" you and "to" a specific person with that person's name identified in the actual e-mail. For example, your e-mail newsletter may be 100 percent opt-in, and each issue may be packed with content and value that the readers.h.i.+p looks forward to. It may be extremely wel -done bulk e-mail, but it's stil bulk e-mail.

Typically good for: * Communicating directly for lead generation, lead nurturing, and relations.h.i.+p development.

* Delivering value-based content such as company newsletters.

* Generating responses to offers.

* Promoting event attendance.

Words of wisdom * Choose the right application for your situation and goals. Your e-mail strategy may include newsletters, the sending of 200 personal communications per day by your business development staff, automated e-mail seqences, targeted third-party e-mails, and much more.

* Don't spam. Fol ow spam laws.

* Choose the right look and feel for your e-mail that supports your brand and your objectives. Sometimes a simple, typed, text e-mail wil do. Many e-mail marketing programs are the core messaging platform for the company and should fit in with your corporate ident.i.ty.

* E-mail is a response generation media and is eminently trackable. Like direct mail, you should test different variables for improved reactions and responses from readers.

* E-mail as a communication type is changing more rapidly than many others. New applications and rules of the jungle for use such as automated communication sequences, tracking and testing, and e-mail deliverability issues are springing up every day. You have to stay on top of it.

Common mistakes * Spamming. Spam at your own risk.

* Overreacting to a single negative reader reaction. Once your list gets large enough, someone is bound to forget that they signed up at one point and send you an annoyed reply. If you're operating your e-mail strategy the right way, these wil be few and far between. But when they come up, don't overreact and stop your efforts completely.

* Too little attention to your list and list building. At many firms, disproportionate effort goes into the e-mail communication design and message, leaving e-mail list building and list maintenance to wither on the vine.

* E-mail communications that are too focused on the sender, and not focused enough on the reader. Make sure your e-mail communications are valuable to readers.

* E-mail communications that leave the readers saying, "What are they saying? What do they want me to do?" Be clear. Like any communication, make sure you're clear about what you're saying.

* No attention to e-mail deliverability. Spam filters catch e-mails that otherwise could get through if you take the time to make sure your e-mail content and e-mail delivery system are in keeping with the latest technologies.

* Sloppiness. Take the time to copyedit, fix broken links, and make sure you send out general y error-free e-mails.

Networking Networking is a means to an end, not an end in itself. That end is building and sustaining relations.h.i.+ps with people. The word networking may bring to mind thoughts of busy bars with rapid-fire business card exchanges, insincere glad-handing, and constant elevator pitching. This isn't what you should think about.

When we refer to effective networking, we're talking about creating authentic and honest relations.h.i.+ps. By focusing on how we can help others to succeed and prosper, we contribute to their success, as wel as our own. But first things first: We have to meet people of similar minds who wil be good connections.

While networking can happen at events with explicity stated networking times, it can also happen anyplace: at conferences, charity and a.s.sociation board meetings, sports events, places of wors.h.i.+p, social media, and networking web sites.

Many professionals' best leads come from referrals. The reasons are twofold: 1. People ask for referrals when they have a need.

2. When people ask for referrals, they ask a trusted source.

It's the relations.h.i.+ps that drive the referrals. Networking is a great way to begin, develop, and nurture strong relations.h.i.+ps.

Typically good for: * Making initial connections.

* Generating referrals.

* Building relations.h.i.+ps.

* Maintaining and nurturing relations.h.i.+ps over the long term.

Words of wisdom * Networking is about creating relations.h.i.+ps, not gathering business cards. We said it before, but it bears repeating.

* If you get involved with a trade a.s.sociation, become a leader.

* People like people who are good conversationalists. Don't be too self-focused. Learn to connect with people in conversation.

* Givers gain. It's the golden rule.

* Focus on important people who are interesting to you and to whom you have something to offer.

* Learn to use the social networking on the Internet (see more on this later).

Common mistakes * Sel ing as an objective. It's possible you may uncover an actual need in a first conversation with someone. More likely than not, though, you won't. But if you are constantly pitching your services or asking needs-based sales-type questions, you often turn people off who could become good connections, because they perceive you as having a heavy sel ing agenda.

* Viewing networking as an event versus an ongoing effort to nurture relations.h.i.+ps. Constantly feed and nourish your network, pruning it and keeping it healthy so it doesn't wither. That doesn't mean flooding your contact's in-box or mailbox with useless information about your company or sending an article or news item just because you find it interesting; it does, however, mean sending information that is important or relevant to your contacts and sending news items that pertain to their current issues.

* Asking without giving. Remember the golden rule of networking: givers gain.

* Attending versus working at networking events. If you're at an industry conference, work the conference. Meet people. Look for opportunities to spend more time working, not less. Often people at networking events spend too much time with people from their own companies and with col eagues from compet.i.tors. If you're not creating and enhancing relations.h.i.+ps that are important, you're not working hard enough.

* Expecting a quid pro quo al of the time. Your goal is to meet people and make connections. Don't expect immediate gratification- getting to know people now wil often benefit you later. Build your relations.h.i.+ps before you need them.

* In conversation, don't worry too much about elevator pitches and stilted deliveries of what you do. You should know how to describe what you do in 20 seconds, two minutes, and longer; but don't go into RoboProfessional mode every time you meet someone.

* Networking with people who don't share your values or whom you do not like. As a general rule, you should like the people in your network. It wil make contact easier and more beneficial.

* Confusing your network with your holiday card list. Networks are relations.h.i.+ps built over time. Having a network is not the same as having a list of people you send holiday cards to once a year.

* Letting your network get stale. You must constantly add to your network while continuing to provide value to those who are already in it.

Social Networking Along with face-to-face networking, social networking and social media sites like LinkedIn, Plaxo, Facebook, Spoke, Twitter, and others are fast becoming a core part of the service firm marketing and sel ing mix.

Typically good for: * Reconnecting with old business and personal connections.

* Staying in touch and nurturing relations.h.i.+ps.

* Finding immediate need. Often in sites like LinkedIn, businesspeople wil post questions to their network as they look for providers, solutions to problems, and answers to questions.

* General marketing and brand communications.

* Event promotion.

Words of wisdom * Be natural. If you're connecting with and reconnecting with people, just be yourself. Al ow your personality to come through (while you also keep it professional).

* Social media is changing al the time. Keep your eyes open and your ear to the ground for new opportunities.

* a.n.a.lyze social media sites for where companies of your type can find opportunities and how you can utilize the major sites to your advantage.

* Join special subnetworks based on your interest within each site.

Common mistakes * Blatant sel ing.

* Overdoing it. Some folks get caught up in social networking and end up spending too much time online and not enough time on other activities.

* Not keeping up with trends.

* Not utilizing social networking at al ; being the laggard.

Trade Show Marketing Industry trade shows are often an underutilized source of lead generation and brand building potential. Like direct mail and telephone, people general y understand the concept of what a trade show is, but rarely have al the pieces in place to make the tactic work for them.

Typically good for: * Lead generation. The first thing anyone wants to know from a trade show is, "Did you come back with any good leads?" Trade shows can, indeed, be very good for leads if you work the show right.

* Brand RAMP. Selecting the right trade shows and working them correctly can lead to advances in al areas of the Brand RAMP.

* Database building and rapid-fire connections. At many trade shows, you'l get exposure to a lot of people in a condensed period of time.

* Generating and maintaining relations.h.i.+ps. Some shows are the must-attend shows for leaders and buyers in al types of industries. If you're at the trade shows, you can both engage and enhance relations.h.i.+ps with these buyers.

* Compet.i.tive positioning. While it's not enough to say, "My compet.i.tors are there so I have to be there," trade shows offer the opportunity to position your firm versus the others.

Professional Services Marketing Part 14

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Professional Services Marketing Part 14 summary

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