by Tony Vidler
Every practice needs to be pitching their marketing efforts at the ideal point in the target market’s buying process, because no practice has enough money and time to cover every possibility.
Today’s consumers go through a process of engaging with professionals which is a little different to the consumers of 20 years ago. The service or advice proposition of an adviser can be ideal for them, and the consumer could be perfectly willing in time to engage that professional, but the consumer doesn’t yet know what the problem is. Our marketing efforts getting them to “act now” are lost if they do not know they that the message applies to them. Equally, if we are spending all of our efforts trying to shape opinion in the marketplace, yet our business model is one that is structured for simple transactions, then there is a real risk that we are talking to consumer at the wrong time in their buying journey.
In marketing professional services we have to try and focus the bulk of our effort on pitching to our target market at a particular point in their buying journey. The right point to pitch at depends on our value proposition, particular strengths and business model. Some professionals are strongest when they are “educating”, and some stronger on simply facilitating transactions , some have built a business focussed on providing broking services.
Any of the different business models and offerings to the market place are valuable and viable IF we are getting the right messaging into the right forums and channels at the right time.
The key to getting all of those “IF’s” right is to figure out what the burning question is that is being asked by the consumers at any given stage. At one extreme there are those who are blissfully unaware that they even have a problem, so beginning to engage with prospects at that point requires us to help them understand that a problem actually exists. Out at the other extreme there are consumers who are convinced that the problem exists, and are also confident that the correct solution to the problem has been found, so they are ready to take action. Their burning question is simply “how do I get this sorted?”
We can map out the levels of awareness and engagement, identify the “burning question” for each and then start to figure out where those consumers go to for answers and what type of information or service they are looking for. It looks like this:
Understanding “where” consumers are going to for their information at each stage helps us to identify which platforms or media we should be spending money and effort on to engage with our target market. Understanding “what” they want or care about at that point enables us to create or provide information which is relevant to them, and which will help them engage with our practice for the rest of the buying journey.
Building a marketing strategy that aligns the firms resources with the right content and platforms for the target market at any particular stage does however require a clear understanding of our own strengths and business model. When a professional services firm does have an innate understanding of its own position and offering, and understands which stage it is aiming to engage with prospects, then it gives itself a much better chance of pitching the marketing message to the right people at the right time, and in the right place.