Your resources have capabilities, and when you implement their capabilities, you are taking an action. Combining the actions two or more resources are capable of becomes a tactic. For good or bad, that is how your marketing tactics are developed.
Prospects seeking professional services want services that are provided by qualified personnel, and who can solve their problems. It is easier for prospects to identify a qualified provider if the professional has an identity, such as being known in the market for his or her specialties, and has a specific identifier such as an ‘accountant,’ ‘EA,’ or CPA’.
In general, the prospect expects the service to be provided as an engagement of the professional by them. They also expect the professional to be independent of suppliers of other services or goods.
When you have a professional in your practice (not a marketer) perform a part of the marketing role, because that professional is more knowledgeable in the specific area of interest to the prospect, the opinion of the professional will be more credible than a mere marketing professional.Similar to product marketing, professional services marketing is evolving. Click To Tweet
Some marketing strategies have become less effective and are not well received, while other emerging strategies are very effective. Professional services are only now starting to adopt new and effective marketing principles.
Among these principles are the ‘transactional’ and ‘relational’ marketing concepts. A term you are likely to encounter when researching marketing of professional services is ‘relational’ marketing. The definition for ‘relationship marketing’ states that:
“Relationship marketing occurs when an organization engages in proactively creating, developing and maintaining committed, interactive and profitable exchanges with selected customers or partners over time”.
There are four practical forms of relational marketing as identified by Coviello et al. (2000). They are:
- Network marketing
- Interaction marketing
- Database marketing
Network marketing refers to the development of relationships between organizations to coordinate activities among multiple parties for mutual benefit.
Interaction marketing refers to face-to-face interpersonal interactions within relationships to create cooperative interactions between buyers and sellers for mutual benefit.
Database marketing refers to the use of technology-based tools to target and retain customers. And,
E-marketing refers to marketing strategies using the internet and other interactive technologies to create and mediate dialog with identified customers.
These relational marketing forms play a part in attracting and satisfying clients. Relational marketing is most effective and should be emphasized more by accounting practitioners. Electronic media and networks can enhance, but only enhance, relationship marketing.
Less than a third of practitioners concentrating on consumer returns and 41 per cent of the full consulting service practitioners included a relational approach as part of their marketing mix.
Most recently, studies have found that professional service firms used two of the relational marketing forms defined above, namely ‘interaction’ marketing and ‘network’ marketing most frequently, as well as most competently.
Transaction marketing is less frequently practiced and less competently practiced. In that study relational practices were used more but in conclusion, transactional practices were also found to be important. These findings support earlier suggestions that combinations of the transactional and relational marketing practices are often being used.
You can think of relational marketing as “first team activities”, being the most effective tactics.
Relational Marketing Tactics include:
- articles in client-oriented journals
- speeches at industry-specific conferences
- proprietary research
- small-scale seminars and meetings
- proactive networking
Newsletters, civic activities and general publicity are less effective and may be considered “Second-string” tactics. They can have some effect but usually only contribute to a better awareness of the firm.
Practitioners who utilize transactional marketing tactics may be considered as “Clutching at straws.”
Many practitioners direct too much energy into “second string” and “clutching at straws” activities only to be reinforcing how the firm is similar to competitors and not highlighting any differentiation. These tactics are mainly used for publicity and include brochures, adverts and direct mail.Many practitioners direct too much energy into `second string` and `clutching at straws` activities Click To Tweet
So, now that you’ve figured out what your key resources are, you need to stop for a minute and think about what created the need for them, what you need to accomplish in the first place.
Key activities can also be defined for the channels of distribution that you have defined for the delivery of your services or products, for management of your client relationships and for your marketing activities.
Key activities are the actions you need to take to operate your practice successfully. They are required to create and provide the services or products you offer to your clients, or prospects.
Key Activities are required to reach your prospects, or even your clients. They are required to maintain those relationships, and even to earn and collect the fees that sustain your practice. Key activities include prospecting and client acquisition, the processing and production of client work, the analysis and solving of client problems (as well as your own), and the collection of the fees that provide the income for your practice.
- They can include identification of prospects, delivering the marketing message, presenting the offer and client engagement.
- If your practice is heavily dependent on tax services, or specialized services, then additional tasks such as knowledge management and continuous training become key activities.
- Processing and completion of client work can be either the job-shop model of a tax practice, or process oriented as a practice focused on client writeup processing.
- If you have chosen to offer features such as online access and client processing, then you add maintenance of your technological platforms to the key activities.
Key activities in the maintenance of your technological platform could include webmaster activities for your client portal, keeping software up-to-date or maintaining servers and networks, depending on how extensive your involvement in these activities are.
Administration in a small practice is generally overlooked as a key activity, but is in actuality one that an analysis of can add significant efficiencies to an operation, and can bear fruit in the increasing and collection of revenue.
Your assignment for this module is to take the list of resources that your previously developed, with their capabilities, and explain what action each capability provides.
To do this, I have developed the Rainmakers Simplified Activity Chart, loosely based on the concept of a PERT chart or a Gantt chart. And, I reiterate, loosely based.
One thing to note about this chart is that I ask you to identify the resource that you will be using to implement each activity, and to identify what type of resource it is, whether it is operational or dynamic.
Operational resources embody the knowledge of your practice. If a resource is dynamically created in order to provide the capabilities, then as it is embodied into a routine, such as the solution you are developing to your target market needs, it will become operational.
By including this information, you will begin to get an idea of how new routines develop into new resources.
Once you’ve got your chart completed, get ready for our next session where we talk about how to define your tactics, based on your capabilities.
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