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The Two Paths to Trust in Marketing Professional Services

by Lee W. Frederiksen PhD, Sean T. McVey, et al.  |  
October 18, 2012
  |  7,783 views

Editor's note: This article is based on and excerpt from Online Marketing for Professional Services, published by Hinge.

The most fundamental tenet of professional services marketing may be trust. How can you expect potential clients to retain you if they don't trust you? You can't.

Conversely, the pinnacle of professional services marketing is achieving the status of "trusted adviser"—that magical point in a relationship where your client instinctively turns to you for advice on problems that lie, even remotely, in your realm of expertise.

How can you achieve such a lofty status?

Obviously, you have to prove yourself trustworthy. But before that can happen, you first have to get the clients. Historically, that's started with developing a relationship.


Golfing for Clients

When you talk about a relationship, most folks think face-to-face interaction. And for most of human history that's how relationships have been developed.

In the world of professional services, business development has translated into countless networking events, memberships on the boards of nonprofits, industry trade association conferences... and, of course, golf outings.


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Lee W. Frederiksen PhD, Sean T. McVey, Sylvia Montgomery CPSM, and Aaron E. Taylor are the authors of Online Marketing for Professional Services, published by Hinge.

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Comments

  • by Michael Webster Thu Oct 18, 2012 via web

    I wouldn't say that the online model is the antithesis of the traditional model. Even if true, you wouldn't get adoption telling people that what they have been doing is completely wrong.

    The model you describe is orthogonal to one of the steps in the traditional model: expertise.

    How does someone, who is not an expert, check on your expertise? Well, they look online and see how you handle yourself in debate with other experts. You aren't online, you clients cannot check.

  • by Barry Deutsch Sun Oct 21, 2012 via web

    I agree with Michael's comment about checking you out online or what is most commonly called social proof.

    I get a few leads in my professional services business from my online activities. My online activities are primarily focused on clients who want to start with something for FREE and then escalate by buying my book, a kit, online training, and other tools. Once they've tried these inexpensive solutions out - then some will be moved along the traditional sales funnel path to real conversations and engagement for the primary element of my business - professional services consulting (in this specific case: executive search and hiring process improvement consulting).

    The online model is great for two things: Creating a passive income stream based on your expertise and moving a few of these folks into your real business revenue stream. This model works great when the purchase cost ranges from $25-$500. It does NOT work when the fees/cost go from $2500-$50000.

    99 percent of my business over 25 years for projects where the fees are $2500, $10000, or upwards of $50,000 - the focus of my business - require numerous personal meetings, constant interaction, and a tremendous reference/referral network.

    It's impossible to "sell" or "market" high value personal services on the Internet. You can start a lead generation process of taking prospective clients baby step by baby step through your sales funnel - but nothing really beats Word of Mouth, personal referrals, giving webinars, seminars, and workshops to get in front of prospective clients.

    The second thing the "online model" is good for is reinforcing your expertise, thought-leadership, branding, messaging, and positioning within your target audience/network. Just collecting a bunch of names on facebook, twitter, or LinkedIn is a useless exercise. You've got to communicate frequently with your networks in a way that is both helpful and where you don't come off as irritating.

    Barry Deutsch
    Partner
    IMPACT Hiring Solutions

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