This is one of the first questions that I often ask my accounting and legal clients – how do you attract clients?
There are seven common ways that service businesses can attract clients. Normally a service business will attract them in one or two main ways. For example, I was talking with a managing partner of a strong regional accountancy practice recently, and they found they got 95% of their new clients via referrals. If you find that you are utilising three or more of these ways, take a look at the efficiency of your marketing mix. It is extremely likely that one of these ways is not yielding a good rate of return:
Referrals: This is where your clients and advocates ‘sell’ your services to others. This is normally the best way for service businesses to market themselves. But, how many of us have a referral marketing strategy in place to help make this happen? Or does your firm just leave this to chance?
Trade shows, professional associations and formal networks: This is where contacts sell your service. This is often used very successfully by the large alliances and formal networks of small professional practices.
Sales calls: This is where a team of business development professionals or telemarketers sell your service. In fact this is a favourite of accountants – and can work reasonable well if you brief your telemarketer well and give them a high quality list of contacts to call.
TV, radio or print ads: This is where you are using advertising to sell your service, which can work well for some service businesses but normally doesn’t work very effectively for professional services, where the service provided is normally expensive and complex.
Product demonstrations, free sessions: Your services sell themselves – e.g. free teleseminar. This can work exceptionally effectively for service businesses. However the time and effort in making this happen in a practice and getting the right bums on seats can often be a barrier to making this happen.
Websites and newsletters: Internet information sells your services. Look at how successful Cheap Accounting is at using their website to generate nearly 100% of their leads.
Placement and appearance of buildings: Your location sells your service. This can work if you are in the right place.
Each business will have its own optimal mix of marketing to attract clients. For maximum marketing efficiency, your business or practice will need to work out what of these seven methods yields the greatest return on your investment.
Which methods are you focusing on? Are they working for you?