The 3 “T’s” of Professional Services Marketing

by Cady Darago

Marketing can be a scary word. Where do you start? What is the most effective way to market? How do you budget? Slow down.  With a little planning, some focus, and a straightforward to-do list, you can handle this. Whether you are an accountant, lawyer, financial planner, or an engineer – these tips can be applied regardless of your service and focused on your niche area.

TIME: Identify how much time are you willing to commit to your marketing?  You can’t run a marathon if you are only willing to devote one hour/week to training. Same with marketing. You can’t plan to write 5 blogs, an article and do two presentations a week if you can only commit an hour/week to marketing, because that will only get you 2-3 blogs or an article.  That’s not even a half marathon.

TALENT: What are you good at – besides CrossFit or watching Game of Thrones?  Were you on the debate team or just love public speaking? Get involved at an industry event as a panelist, emcee, or speaker.  Did you minor in journalism or keep diaries? Start blogging, find industry publications to write articles for, and write articles for LinkedIn. Are you a social butterfly and love working the room? Get out to networking events and join boards at your local Chamber of Commerce and other business organizations. Do you love helping others and have a soft spot for the needy? Volunteer and sit on the board for non-profits. Are you a natural at having close relationships? Schedule one-on-one meetings with clients, prospects, and referral sources.  Your reputation and relationships are what makes you memorable.

TARGET: What are your goals? Tangible goals. For example, if you are 34, retirement at 40 with $18 million in your 401K isn’t what I want to hear, unless you already have $15m banked, then let’s talk. Set tangible goals for the next year, keeping in mind your talent and time. Set small goals for three weeks from now, 3 months from now, 6 months from now, and so on. If you make all your goals due at the end of the year, you will keep procrastinating. Hold yourself accountable – or rally some co-workers to join you in your efforts and create a wager, so you stay motivated.

EXAMPLE 1: You are an outgoing accountant looking to meet small business owners as prospective clients, and you commit to setting aside an hour/week. You set a goal to meet 3 business owners in three weeks. Reach out to some people in your network and ask if they will set up a lunch meeting with someone whom you want to meet or that they think you should meet. Attend an event where you can meet small business owners. Reach out to a connection on LinkedIn that you don’t really know and set up a phone call or meeting.

EXAMPLE 2: You are an associate attorney working in your firm’s liquor law department where you are hoping to drum up new distillery clients. You have 10 hours/month for marketing, and you enjoy writing and public speaking. Start a blog or contribute to your firm’s existing blog. Set a schedule and make sure you have at least two blogs in the hopper, you never know when a work or a personal emergency will arise. Sign up to do a CLE at your local bar association or team up with another practice area in your firm and do an in-house presentation (you and a labor & employment attorney covering things distilleries need to think about).  Attend events at the local distilleries – get to know the owners and their needs.

EXAMPLE 3: You are an engineer and need to drum up more business outside of your immediate area.  Your goal is to connect with construction companies, developers, planning commissions, and zoning boards.  You hate public speaking and writing, but you don’t mind social settings.  You work during the day, but most evenings are free for marketing. Attend events for the economic development organization in the geographic area you want to target, register for land development conferences, and see if there are any real estate development/planning commission events at your local Chamber.

Long story short – it’s not rocket science. It takes planning, discipline, and accountability. Just like a diet or exercise plan, you need to stay the course and vary the activity to see results – eating only broccoli and doing bicep curls will not help you achieve your fitness goals – and neither will only blogging and connecting with people on LinkedIn.  However, stick with activities that you like – you will be more likely to stick with it.

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