by Tony Vidler
The dominance of mobile search means prospects will typically first engage with you or your brand because of the content you’ve posted online. So who is your content for? It is essential to understand who your audience is. Maybe even more importantly you must continually think of those prospective future clientele as an audience until such time as they choose to do business with you.
“Audience” might seem an odd word to use when thinking about marketing a professional services firm to future clients, as we aren’t entertainers are we? Despite the labelling that social media platforms use we don’t really have “fans” do we?
Or do we?
I believe it is helpful for us to think of our target market as an audience, rather than as “prospects” for marketing purposes today. In the traditional advisory model a prospect is someone who has been qualified as a potential client, and whom the business is trying to move along a sales track. The mindset and engagement processes therefore have a strong tendency to be focussed upon convincing prospects that there is a correct path for them to choose, and they effectively co-opted into the process. That is, they continue to get sold and pushed along until such time as they agree or opt out of the process.
This is not the case with an audience though.
An audience chooses to engage. They are “there” (wherever there is) because they want to be. They stay engaged because they feel are getting great value. Whether that is choosing to buy tickets to a concert or whether that is choosing to read material produced by a professional, it is a choice of theirs to stay engaged…or wander off to something which they perceive is a better use of their time and attention.
Therein is the significant mindset shift that professionals have to make. Todays prospects typically can and do wander off whenever we cease to be delivering content that they perceive to be valuable.
Generally speaking the types of people that advisers want as future clients are intelligent, discerning, and have a significant amount of choice in how or where or who they can and will receive information or advice from. If we want them to ultimately choose us then we have to be conscious throughout our engagement process that it is a choice of theirs to continue to stay engaged. They are no longer a captive group where professionals control access to information or control the buying journey.
So what does an audience expect generally? They expect to commit some time, effort and money on their part in exchange for a great experience which represents good value. They expect someone to put on a show. They expect to enjoy the process and the experience, or they are there because they are learning stuff that they are interested in or can see the benefit of knowing.
That is a fundamental difference to the traditional sales process applied to prospects. I am not suggesting that advisers today need to figure out how to be rock stars or put on dazzling light shows at seminars…we are not running a circus. But prospects are paying us with their time and attention and they want something worthwhile in return. They share the same attributes as any other audience in that respect.
We do have to find ways to ensure that they feel they are getting excellent value for the time, effort or money that they are committing to engaging with us. We have to find ways to make the experience enjoyable for them. An audience always has the option to opt out mid-way through any performance….they can walk out of a concert, they can turn off the TV, they can sit quietly in the corner reading their emails on their phone instead of listening to the speaker….
….they can remain a “name” on our database but never open an email, or read a newsletter or social post…they can disengage whenever they wish.
If we wish to have effective marketing and an effective engagement process then it makes sense for us to stop thinking of them as prospects and instead think of them as “an audience”. Prospects today are not people who are begrudgingly being moved along a pre-determined path of our choosing. They are engaged only for as long as they choose to be. Your content is one of the keys to why they choose to stay engaged with you.