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Like Brushing Your Teeth

By Kelly O'Brien
Posted Thursday, January 20, 2005

What do the following things have in common: brushing your teeth, regular exercise, eating a balanced diet, paying your bills on time, cleaning your gutters, spending quality time with your spouse and kids…?

They’re all forms of regular “self-care” that, if you neglect them for a period of time or take the wrong approach, there will be costly negative consequences.

The same goes for marketing.

Do any of these symptoms sound familiar?

• Your phone does not ring regularly with new prospects.

• You don’t regularly hear, “Hey, I’ve heard of your company!”

• Your sales pipeline is dry, so you go to some networking events, get some leads, then stop.

• People don’t respond quickly to meet or talk with you after an initial introduction through networking.

• The leads you do get trickle in slowly.

• You spend a lot of time looking for opportunities, but aren’t getting the results you want.

• You can’t safely project your firm’s income for the next 6 to 12 months.

• You’re finding it hard to attract and retain top talent, even in a recently tough economy.

• Relationships with clients tend to be short and one-off projects (i.e., no repeat business).

• You rely heavily on one or two income streams (i.e., consulting or coaching).

• Most of your eggs are in one basket (i.e., one or two major clients), and if they went away, you’d be in trouble.

• You’re too busy to look for more clients.

If any of these symptoms ring true for you, one of two things is probably happening. Either you’re not marketing on a consistent enough basis to generate reliable results. Or you’re not using the right approach to get the kind of results you want. Or both!

Consistency is Key

The American Dental Association recommends brushing your teeth at least twice a day. The USDA’s food pyramid maps out a balanced approach to eating. Your mortgage company or landlord stay happy when you pay them monthly on time. Experts urge us to clean our gutters twice a year. You get the idea…

Do we really follow all of these guidelines to the letter? Probably not. But within reason, people who consistently follow healthy habits over time, get better results, live “younger” longer, and incur less cost (financial, physical, emotional) than those who do not.

This is definitely the case with marketing for professional services. You simply cannot dabble in lousy messaging, offer an unwanted service, do occasional networking, or disappear from your target audience’s radar, only to reappear when you need more work. Benign neglect and sporadic attention will get you predictable results.

Here’s why: clients come to you in a very vulnerable position…they need something from you that they can’t do for themselves or don’t have the expertise to solve on their own. So they need to trust that 1) you won’t lead them astray, wasting their time/money; and 2) you have their best interests in mind.

How can they begin to trust you, then, if you disappear from sight, inconsistently communicate with them, or say things that they can’t understand or relate to?

Taking a proactive, consistent “preventative maintenance” approach to marketing is the key to building trust in the marketplace.

Here’s how to make marketing a healthy habit:

STEP 1: Offer what the market wants. Sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how often I see firms selling what their clients “really need, they just don’t know it yet.” Or, “this is such a worthy cause (new approach, cutting edge strategy, etc.), I just know it’s needed.” Unless you have the PR and marketing budget to fund a major, long-term educational campaign, you can’t afford to take this approach.

STEP 2: Say the right things to the right audience, at the right time, in the right way. What you say (messaging) is more important, and harder, than spreading the word. The biggest waste of time and money is to spin your wheels promoting your services when you’re saying the wrong things.

STEP 3: Do some form of marketing every week, if not every day. Even if you’re swimming in more work than you can handle now, you can’t afford to stop promoting your services. Ever. Pick a “theme” for the week and just do it: prepare a talk, draft an article, network, write your monthly keep-in-touch e-newsletter, ask for testimonials, add case studies to your website, send items of interest to clients and contacts, write thank you notes, do a postcard mailer about your next talk, call an old client, write and send out a press release, provide great client service, develop a valuable freebie to give away, and so on.

Successfully marketing professional services is about establishing and sustaining trust through a consistent approach to meaningful visibility with your target audience.

Ignore this advice, and in short order you’ll suffer the equivalent of cavities, leaky gutters, bad credit, and an expanding waistline…and end up paying the expense of emergency surgery, instead of the smaller investment of taking a preventative approach.

About the Author
(c) 2004 TurningPointe Marketing, Inc. All rights reserved. Marketing educator, Kelly O'Brien, is creator of the "Create a TurningPointe!" Marketing Bootcamp. To learn more about this step-by-step program, and to sign up for FREE how-to articles and 20-page marketing guide, visit (


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