“We were undercut on our latest proposal”. “So many clients base their final decision on price”.
I’ve heard quite a few comments like this lately from people who work in professional services companies. Whether they’re a landscape architect, environmental consultant, or even a barrister, it seems everyone is complaining about the same thing.
So does this mean that clients see all professional services as commodities? Everyone is the same, so the cheapest will do just fine.
Should your marketing team just pack their bags and go home?
Well, of course I would say “no”. But think for a minute. If this scenario appears to be true in your industry, is it really the case that only those firms offering bargains are winning all the work?
Here are a few observations of what some of those other companies might be doing:
- They’re considered the Authority in their area of practice
Being known as a generalist does not work in most situations where clients are trying to choose between service providers. Successful organisations know what they’re good at and they let people know why that’s going to be a good thing for the client.
They’re careful not only to say in their marketing communications “aren’t we great” – rather they say “our expertise is going to help you look good/meet your goals”. A great test is to put yourself in your client’s shoes for a minute and after each statement of what you’re good at say “So what?”.
To really win a prospect over, you need to get to the bottom of what ultimate benefit they’ll get from dealing with you, and avoid being just another company spruiking the same generic description of services.
2. They stay in touch with past clients and contacts
The world is based on relationships.
It makes sense that if you stay top of mind with people who you’ve successfully dealt with in the past, there’s more chance that they might think of you next time the need for your services comes up. And if they’ve been a happy client, chances are they’ll recommend you to others.
‘Staying in touch’ could translate into a monthly or quarterly newsletter. It could be a phone call to discuss upcoming projects. It could be an email where you share an interesting article or whitepaper on a topic you know would be of interest to them.
3. They are visible
Their websites clearly tell people who they are, what they do, and why they can help their clients meet their goals.
They regularly publish in industry journals, in online forums, on their own blog or Twitter account.
They attend and speak at workshops. They submit their projects for industry awards, and if they win, they speak not just about why they deserve it, but why this is good for their clients.
Clearly this list is not exhaustive. The trick is to do those things that pay off. You need to do those things that get you closer to the Holy Grail of being the first organisation they consider when they have a need for your type of service.