Posted Tuesday, January 18, 2005
Do you ask prospective clients to go too far?
Must your new clients take a “leap of faith” when they engage you?
Or do you gradually draw them closer using a series of pre-planned contacts designed to address their concerns and build their trust in you.
Too many service providers wait for potential clients to take that leap of faith. And in doing so, they force their would-be clients into making an all-or-nothing choice.
Prospects either say, “Yes, we want you” or they never contact you.
This is a high-risk strategy for both your prospect and yourself. It is risky for your prospect because they could feel as though they have to make a decision before they feel comfortable about working with you. They haven’t got to know you yet. Do they have all the information they need? How do they know if they do?
It’s a risky position for you because all your effort in attracting a prospect is hanging on this one all-or-nothing decision. Have you spoken with your prospect and impressed them with your insight and expertise? Have you had a chance to understand what your prospect really wants to achieve? Probably not.
A more effective way to attract clients is to create a path of contact points. At each point you give your prospect a reason to proceed to the next point.
I call this “Incremental Marketing”.
When you practice incremental marketing your focus should be on helping your prospects make incremental steps towards engaging you. At each step you build trust, enhance your credibility, and answer any concerns.
Get them to take the next step, not a leap of faith.
With this approach you’ll also have the opportunity to explain how you work with clients and suggest the best starting point for that particular prospect, such as – signing an agreement; conducting an evaluation or assessment; interviewing key stakeholders; making an appointment; conducting a demonstration etc.
Incremental marketing is about creating a structure for prospects to make smaller, safer steps towards finalising a commitment with you.
The “path of contact points” will vary from business to business, depending upon on the services you provide, and the type of clients you are working with.
A business management consultant may create this path:
1 - Article published in industry journal.
2 - Link to web site for more information.
3 - Contact page on web site (or a phone call/message from prospect).
4 - Personal contact #1 - initial discussion with prospect over telephone (or in person); and arrange appointment for detailed meeting.
5 - Send supporting documents (such as business profile or report).
6 - Personal contact #2 - meeting with prospect in person.
7 - After meeting provide service agreement, notice of engagement, or additional detail as required; suggest starting point.
8 - Client agrees to commence.
A computer support technician may create this path:
1 - Referral from client or networking contact.
2 - Personal contact #1 - by phone. Ring prospect to:
2a - Request meeting.
2b - Provide introductory information/background.
3 - Send additional written information via post or email (a report, profile, or link to web site information).
4 - Personal contact #2 - meeting with prospect. Discuss the clients computer environment; suggest a “System Diagnosis” as a starting point to identify areas that need attention.
5 - Client agrees to commence.
Remember, in most cases prospects are looking to minimise their risk in choosing a service provider. They want to feel secure with their decision. Incremental marketing helps you to work with human nature, instead of fighting against it.
Don’t force prospects to take a leap of faith to choose you, because usually they won’t.
(c) 2005 Marketing Nous Pty Ltd
About the Author
Stuart Ayling runs Marketing Nous, an Australasian marketing consultancy that specialises in marketing for service businesses. He helps clients to improve their marketing tactics, attract more clients, and increase revenue. Stuart also offers telephone consultations and runs regular marketing seminars. For additional marketing resources, including Stuart's popular monthly newsletter, visit his web site at (http://www.marketingnous.com.au).
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