by Tony Vidler
With the shift to content marketing fuelled by consumer’s online searching, it is essential tor understand who your audience is. More importantly though, it is important to continually think of your 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 are to a degree captives in the process. That is, they continue to get sold to until such time as they agree or opt out of further contact.
This is not the case with an audience though. An audience chooses to engage as they fundamentally believe they are getting great value from engaging. 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 spend time or money or both.
Therein is the significant mindset shift that professionals have to make (if they haven’t already). Generally speaking the types of people we 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.
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.
That is a fundamental difference to the traditional sales process applied to prospects. It is a complete turnaround in fact. Now I am not suggesting that professionals today need to figure out how to be rock stars or put on dazzling light shows at seminars, but we do need to think of the people we are trying to engage as “an audience”.
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 stop engaging in the advice process 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”. The obligation then sits with us to make that an enjoyable and valuable experience for them…..which ultimately helps more of them choose to do business with us.