Janice was upfront with me when we first talked about marketing her professional services:
“I want to market my services but I just hate hype; I don’t want to seem pushy or manipulative and I definitely don’t want to seem desperate when I’m marketing myself. So what can I do?”
I told her I agreed with her and that most independent professionals felt the same way. “One of the built-in misconceptions about marketing is that it is the same as hype. It’s so hard to conceive marketing without hype, that those sensitive to hype feel as though they’ve hit a dead end with their marketing.”
Then I gave her a short list of hype-oriented marketing activities.
• Making exaggerated claims for our services
• Promising what can’t be delivered
• Using over-the-top language
• Presenting all style with little substance
“Is that what you mean Janice?” I asked.
“Yes exactly,” she responded. “That’s just not me.”
I continued: “The common denominator in all of these approaches is misrepresenting the value of what you are offering. And doing that, even a little bit, makes you feel yucky, right?”
“Yucky is a perfect word,” she responded. “Look, I’m a professional, I can’t use those hype-based approaches. So before I decide to work with you, I need to know if there’s a way to market myself that doesn’t feel yucky and still be effective.”
“Yes, there is a realistic alternative,” I said, “and – good news – it’s really simple. Authentic marketing is about accurately representing the value you offer.
“But that doesn’t mean your marketing needs to be boring. You can’t bore someone into doing business with you.
“No, you can make your marketing interesting, valuable and beneficial without resorting to half-truths or outright lies.”
And then I outlined for Janice seven things she could do to market herself authentically.
1. Educate your audience about what you offer. Don’t assume they really understand what it is you do and all the value you provide. Above all else, explain how your clients value from your services. What difference does your service make?
2. Explain in detail every single important benefit you offer. Don’t assume your prospects know of or understand any of these benefits. Spell them out as clearly as possible.
3. Make sure to balance benefits with features. A feature of a service is a particular thing you do (such as offer email support), the benefit is the value a client receives from that feature (ensures that you stay on track).
4. Tell stories about your services that illustrate specifically how clients have benefited from using them and include testimonials relating the value your clients have received.
5. Tell your audience about yourself, your journey, your struggles and your breakthroughs. Personalizing the story behind your services builds a feeling of familiarity and trust.
6. Be real. Actually explain any drawbacks of your services and why they are not for everyone, but for a certain kind of client. This shows that you understand your clients and their real needs.
7. Simply tell your prospects what steps to take next. Most marketing for professional services takes several steps. Point them to more in-depth information, complimentary meetings, introductory tele-classes or webinars.
“Now that I’ve explained these seven approaches to authentic marketing I hope it takes some of the pressure off. These are approaches any honest, authentic, independent professional can take without feeling yucky.
“Remember that marketing is 100% communication, so every time you need to communicate about the professional services you offer, come back to this list and make sure to include as many of these approaches as you can in your emails, phone conversations, web content, sales letters and follow-up calls.”
“And you can help me with that?” Janice asked.
“Absolutely! and you may discover that authentic marketing is both natural and easier than you thought.”
Several months later Janice had completely integrated authentic marketing into her business, had attracted a number of great clients, and discovered that it’s easy to connect with people when you know you have real value to offer and that any kind of hype is completely unnecessary.
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