Have you had a favorite boss in your career? Maybe you’re lucky enough to still be working for him or her. What about your worst boss? Hopefully you have parted ways by now. You may even be working as your own boss, which brings its own unique set of challenges and rewards.
No matter what your situation, a boss plays a critical role in your success. So when I was given this blog topic to write about – how to market a service like a boss – by our fearless marketing manager Oren Smith, I thought about characteristics of an awesome boss and did a little research, as well. Inc.com did a great piece on the 20 things that the most respected bosses do every day.
As I read it, I saw that these 20 things can all be adapted to the situation where you are marketing a service, from landscaping to accounting to web design. We’ve written a lot about marketing services, including our popular two-part series on marketing services by treating them like products and how service marketing differs from product marketing.
In this article, we give you 20 tips for marketing your services the way your favorite boss managed a team.
Away we go!
1. Share your vision.
You have a vision for how you want to deliver your particular service, for the outcomes you seek to achieve by being the best at what you do. Encore Construction, a design/remodel firm focused on the residential market, shares that they are about “Creating Everlasting Memories.” This is something their prospects can relate to when they think about designing or remodeling their home.
2. Develop expertise.
Service firms have to know their stuff, to stay on top of trends, industry regulations, and innovations in the market. When marketing your service, make sure you are as well informed as you can be.
3. Respect people’s time.
When you schedule a prospect or client meeting, make sure to start and end on time and have a clear agenda for your time together. When you set a deadline, meet it or beat it.
4. Set priorities.
It’s easy for your prospects and clients to get excited about all you can do for them, especially if you have shared your vision and shown your deep level of expertise. But few clients can take advantage of all of your offerings, at least not right away. Show your prospects and clients that you can stage a project, help them set priorities and do work in phases to be respectful of their budget and timeline. You’ll end up with a happier client who you retain for a long time.
5. Share information.
When marketing, selling and delivering your services, you will build strong relationships if you are generous with your knowledge, insights and advice. Even before someone starts paying for your services, giving away some of your expertise can pay off and position you well against the competition. Of course you want to get paid for your hard-earned knowledge, but a spirit of generosity when marketing your services will go long a way. Some great ways to share your knowledge are by publishing a blog, like Management Mentors produces on corporate mentoring, or sharing articles on your social media accounts, like Mansfield Sales Partners publishes on Twitter, that demonstrate not only your expertise but your willingness to share it.
6. Make decisions.
You have heard that the client is always right, I am sure. But the client is also looking to hire an expert to perform a service. They are looking for a service provider who can make strong recommendations and advise them with confidence. You will foster mutual trust by working with clients who are looking for you to make decisions with them, not just be an order taker.
7. Offer praise.
We all enjoy hearing that we are doing a great job. Your prospects and clients will love to see that you notice when they win a new piece of business, gain accolades for a project, or make a new hire. Getting to know your client’s whole business – not just the part you may be involved with – creates a stronger overall relationship.
8. Demonstrate empathy.
When marketing a service, companies that show that they understand their prospects’ pain will be more successful than those who blather on about themselves and their services. Think about your prospect and meeting them where they are when they are considering engaging a service provider. When people are shopping for a bed, they are really shopping for a good night’s sleep. What are they really looking for when they shop for your service?
9. Offer thanks.
Showing gratitude at every turn in your marketing builds good will. Thank prospects for completing a form on your website, for calling your firm, for agreeing to a sales meeting, for committing to a project, for paying their invoices, for referring you. Service firms rely heavily on personal relationships and showing appreciation for the relationship at every stage will go a long way.
10. Pull everyone together.
Make sure you are engaging all decision makers, influencers and implementers in your services marketing. You don’t want to focus only on the person with the check book – make sure you meet and build a rapport with the people who will be your day-to-day contacts once you are engaged with the client. Take the time to outline and understand roles and responsibilities on your side and the client side so there are no misunderstandings.
11. Ask smart questions.
The best marketers and sales people are curious about their clients. They actually show how much they know by the questions they ask during sales conversations and at client meetings. They research what they can so their clients do not have to rehash material that is easily available on the website, and then they spend time delving deeper into questions that will allow them to provide the best levels of service.
12. Respect for other people’s lives.
Just as great bosses understand that their employees have lives outside of work, the best service providers understand that their clients have other priorities and cannot always be available to them. Use time with prospects and clients as wisely as possible.
13. Hire thoughtfully.
As a services firm, your people are your greatest asset. You must hire, train and retain the best possible talent in all key positions. Client-focused individuals who are generous with their knowledge, understanding of client needs, and willing to do the work necessary for desired results will do well in a services firm.
14. Accept blame.
In even the best service engagements, there will be missteps and mistakes. Make sure you and your team take full ownership of any failures and do what it takes to make things right. The more quickly this happens, the better!
15. Have a sense of humor.
Even in the driest industries – my apologies to all tax attorneys out there – the relationship between a services firm and its clients can be enjoyable. When you are marketing your services, try to avoid taking yourself and your firm too seriously. Create chemistry with your prospects by sharing information about your team in a human way and by building rapport during calls and meetings. Kickstarter does a great job on their team page, showing expertise and humor at once.
16. Communicate effectively.
Service marketing relies on strong two-way communication between a firm and its clients. Service firms must communicate proactively about what they recommend doing, what they do, and what they did – and about the value of all of it so the client appreciates the outcomes achieved. Clients must offer their input, insights and ideas as well. Maintain strong channels of communications from the moment a prospect engages with your firm.
17. Model ethical behavior.
This goes without saying in any business relationship, but in a services relationship where someone is trusting you to do what you say you will, when you say you will, you need to do it.
18. Celebrate wins.
Just as you want to take accountability for mistakes quickly, you want to toot your own horn when marketing your services. During the sales process, make sure to highlight the successes you’ve had in other engagements. And when working with a client, never assume that they know you are doing a good job. Tell them and show them at every turn. Share great results you are achieving, use befores and afters to demonstrate the difference you are making. Here is an example of how Hebert Design Build showcases its before and after work.
19. Strive for excellence.
This seems like a no-brainer, but it is a good reminder. Excellence is actually one of our core values at PMG, which helps us keep it visual for our team as we take on clients and deliver marketing services to them. Asking yourself, “Is this excellent work I am delivering?” is a good question to keep you and your team seeking continuous improvement.
20. Make more leaders.
Some owners or managers fail to delegate to their teams because they fear that they won’t do things as well as they will. The reality is that your team may approach an engagement differently than you would, but if they have a strong foundation of knowledge and a client-centered approach, they may teach you a thing or two! Never be afraid to not just delegate to your team but to elevate them in your engagements. The more people your client engages with and has a good experience with, the stronger your relationship will be.