As the parent of three boys, my household has accumulated a lot of STUFF! As such, at the beginning of the summer, I made it my project to de-clutter the house through the use of Craigslist.
In doing so, I picked up a number of valuable marketing reminders that will help with my fall project (more de-cluttering), and these nuggets are not just limited to my household, they apply to professional service firms, as well.
No matter the cost, value needs to be perceived. Customers on Craigslist aren’t shopping for deals or making impulse buys, they are investing time and resources to find a product they need. In a similar fashion, clients are reaching out to your firm based on the value you offer. It is important that firms reinforce this through their marketing efforts and all communication channels, which bring us to the next point . . .
Value is perceived based on how your firm is presented. If I post a photo of the item I’m selling on Craigslist, potential customers can see the value first-hand. Printed materials, websites, social media, e-mails, etc. – they all need to present your firm’s value proposition. Imagine a website for an architectural firm without renderings, or a law firm’s RFP without any mention of the attorney’s expertise. The result would be potential clients going to competitor that has actually demonstrated value.
I once posted an item that cost quite a bit more than three others were offering. My bad! I didn’t research the going price on Craigslist, and in turn, my item didn’t sell. Professional firms are no different than any other business. You need to keep an eye on your competition and what they are offering. Doing so can reinforce your efforts to create value or inspire new methods of attracting and retaining clients.
We live in an era of immediate gratification. This was reinforced when I took a day or two to respond to questions about my posted items. By the time I returned the correspondence, the potential customer had already moved on to someone else or another product. The same is true for clients. It’s highly likely your professional firm has built its value on client service. This needs to be supported by timely responses to inquiries. If not, the client may find solutions elsewhere.
In completing my summer project, I was constantly amazed by the number of people that responded to my post with a message requesting a call. It’s the Internet, shouldn’t all communication be electronic? I quickly came to realize that my potential customers were not luddites and instead only wanted to know who they were purchasing from. It was part of their perceived value – you don’t want to buy something from someone you don’t like. In the same vein, professional service firms need to maintain regular communication to not only build value but to create a relationship.
While my summer project is over, the lessons learned serve as good reminders. As we interact with those looking to purchase an item from Craigslist or attract a new client, we need to remember the importance of value. And speaking of value, if you are looking for some gently use children items, find me on Craigslist.
– Chuck Brown