Clients Need to Know Why Your Firm Is Better, Not Different

Marketing strategy brings the world into focus

The vibrant life of Summer may be in full swing, but some things never change. I’ve noticed many professionals at the top of their game either hold unrealistic expectations for marketing strategy, or see it as little more than smoke and mirrors, and marketing consultants as charlatans selling snake oil.

“Helping” professional services firms do marketing is all the rage. Most of the “advice” depends on selling shiny objects to non-marketer professionals searching for something that works. Listen and you’ll hear a broken record selling a one-size-fits-all solution wherever they go.

If it were that easy, marketing consultants would have a better reputation. But they don’t.

Ah, the Irony

Many of these marketers can do excellent work. The trouble is they focus on tactics without a strategic context. That’s fancy consultant-speak for saying they see marketing activities as an end in themselves rather than a means of furthering the purpose and objectives of the client’s firm. I don’t know whether they are rushing to “results,” or simply can’t see the bigger picture. They drive programs and activities rather than understanding the business goals of each firm needed to create enduring success.

A case in point. A technical advisor I know raved about her firm’s new website and the web marketing consultant that put it together. 17 jargon-filled bullet points detailed the firm’s practice areas and expertise and highlighted the uniqueness of each professional.

Alas, nowhere among the color-balanced eye-candy did the site effectively convey the essential reasons why someone would hire this firm over several similar firms.

“A Switch Flipped”

A few weeks into our project, she excitedly announced how “a switch flipped” in her thinking. Suddenly, she saw marketing strategy through a very different lens. The Four Hard Truths came into focus.

Her firm's marketing strategy is now better marketing, not more marketing. Click To Tweet

The goal of her firm’s marketing strategy is no longer to highlight how different they are. She now sees marketing as a tool for helping potential clients see her firm as a better choice for her target clients’ specific needs. Consequently, her goal is now better marketing rather than more marketing. She can’t do that with page full of bullets.

Flipping Your Switch

If you don’t know why your clients think you are better, then that’s where you start. Your best clients DO think you’re better. Just don’t fool yourself into thinking they think you’re better for the same reasons you think you’re better. If you fall into that trap, you’ll join legions of professionals marketing to themselves.

The good news is your best clients want to help you. Even after the better part of a decade I never stop being amazed at how much my clients’ best clients want to help them succeed. Helping these Fans understand your secret sauce puts into their hands tools that turn them into much more powerful Advocates who actually drive business to you. For more on this effect, read  How to Architect Powerful Recommendations.

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