A well-balanced marketing practice will generate 50% of its potential client leads from existing client recommendations. Hence, the clients must be at the centre of your marketing efforts and budget.
All too often a disproportionate amount of time and money is aimed at generating ‘cold’ leads (ie. through direct mail) rather than ‘warm’ recommendations. Remember, you are twice as likely to convert a ‘warm’ recommendation than you are a ‘cold’ lead.
Focus your marketing efforts as follows:
Go out of your way to give some non-chargeable time to your clients. This is generally very well received by the clients and allows you the opportunity to identify other ways where the clients need your help (which then becomes chargeable time).
Use the non-chargeable time to listen to your clients concerns – you do not need to move into any ‘selling’ mode. By listening you are far more likely to identify a ‘need’ and therefore lend a helping hand.
No amount of ‘promotional activity’ (see below) can substitute for networking. This is the concept of meeting and talking to people who can refer work such as clients, bankers, solicitors, estate agents, stock brokers, computer companies, printers etc.
The secret to networking is for partners to discipline themseles to allocating time to see people – my recommendation is use the ‘lunch hour’ to its maximum advantage.
Such as, direct mail, newsletters (not technical bulletins), brochures, booklets, seminars, advertising etc.
Promotional activities are enormously important activities BUT ONLY as a support function to client focused marketing and networking. It is quite simply ‘money and time wasted to exclusively dedicate your activities without spending primary resources on your clients and other referral sources’.
Why? Promotional activities are usually ‘generalisations’ and therefore have last value for money. However, it is nontheless extremely powerful in the long run if it is sustained.
The process of proposing and selling to potential clients who are interested in talking to you. Usually these are very competitive and fee sensitive and hence you need the edge – hence the importance of the recommendation. Whether it be a ‘warm’ prospect or a ‘cold’ lead they are all opportunities and need your full commitment to concert them to clients.
There are inherent cultural problems with all of the five issues raised above – we are generally reactive and not proactive. It is more comfortable for us to follow up a client request than to sell.
Some of us prefer the promotional activities because somebody else can do that. It’s easier for partners to tell the marketing co-ordinate to change the message in the newsletters and brochures than for them to change their behaviour.
Nonetheless, the burden is on you, the partner. People buy people, and if the partners aren’t talking to clients, referral sources or prospects, you’re not marketing, you are giving it ‘lip service’ at best.
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