Client acquisition is a challenge for consultants operating in any industry, even public relations professionals who specialise in communication. Queensland management consultant and relationship marketing expert Mark Vincent gave his tips on B2B marketing strategies at an event hosted by the Public Relations Institute of Australia (PRIA).
Mark says you need to find your niche when it comes to the services you provide.
“The first thing is you have to be better than the competition,” Mark says.
“If you can’t be better than them, you need to be different and if you can’t be different then you need to be cheaper.”
Mark says when it comes to providing a service, you have to balance your time and resources against the cost of provision.
“Clients want the highest quality advice, the shortest timeframe and the cheapest price,” he says.
“I tell clients you can have two of these things, but never three.
“You can have work done to the highest quality in the shortest timeframe, but it won’t be for the cheapest price.
“Similarly, you can provide work for the cheapest price and the shortest timeframe but it won’t be the highest quality,” he says.
When it comes to marketing in the professional services, regardless of industry, the most valuable form of marketing is word-of-mouth.
This is because a recommendation from a trusted friend, colleague or family member will be far more influential than any form of traditional advertising.
No-one is disputing that social media can be a very valuable tool in business. The danger in social media is it can be very self-indulgent, focusing on the brand rather than on the consumers the brand is servicing.
Also, while many firms view social media as a free form of advertisement, it requires substantial investments of time and resources for content creation and monitoring.
This topic is also covered extensively in Mark’s book, Social Media Marketing is Not Enough to Maximise Your Marketability, co-authored by Margot de Groot.
Mark says regardless of industry, social media combined with an evolving digital landscape are driving significant change.
“No matter what your industry, dramatic changes are taking place and social media is at the forefront in driving this change,” he says.
Mark says there are five key factors which contribute to your success in the market.
Many of those who operate in the consultancy sector, specifically within the public relations and marketing fields, shy away from conversations regarding fees and money.
However, as Mark points out, a good consultant will have the confidence to talk clearly about fees. This trait will, in turn, make them seem more capable in the eyes of their clients.
When you are upfront and succinct about fees, clients will perceive you as more transparent and trustworthy.
He recommended keeping estimates to a tighter frame of reference for example: $10,000 to $12,000 rather than $5,000 to $10,000. He suggested reminding clients of the original quote when delivering a bill, because they may only remember the lower-end of the quoted figure.
Clients want to be kept in the loop but they don’t want to have their time wasted so when you have a phone call or a meeting always have an agenda even if it is only a few points.
Client’s will appreciate if you remember small details about them, so keep a few points in your CRM database and refer to them next time you call your client. It could just be checking up on the state of a family pet or seeing how their children have tracked with their study but the client will be appreciative and feel a stronger bond to you.
When it comes to building either your business or your own personal brand you need to have a robust strategy.
According to a study by Hinge Marketing the top five factors that make someone a thought leader or “Visible Expert” in their field are:
Mr Vincent admitted that in his personal experience speaking engagements have been the biggest driver in both building his profile and acquiring new clients. He suggested those wanting to become leaders in their field find a niche rather than trying to cover many areas.
He also suggested all consultants regardless of their area of practice invest in relationship marketing.
“Marketing shouldn’t be something you do in addition to your job – it is your job,” Mark says.
For those wanting further information on relationship marketing and client acquisition you can purchase a copy of Mark Vincent’s book here.
Mr Vincent is the founder and a Director of Insight Plus, with more than 40-years combined experience in the business and consultancy sectors.
He works with several notable companies, including BHP Billiton and Australia Post and he is Chairman of the Motorama Group of companies.