By: Sharon Berman,
Published: Los Angeles Business Journal
It used to be sacrilege to use the words “professionals” and “marketing” in the same sentence. Professionals “marketing” their services was inconceivable, if not disreputable. Marketing was only for marketing people and for soap. Today, most professionals realize that if they don’t successfully market their services, it will be tough to survive.
If you’re one of the professionals who has recognized the need to market and want to maximize your success, here are 10 common mistakes to avoid.
1. The fear of looking “unprofessional.” Professionals are only willing to venture outside their sphere of comfort into new territory when it has become the accepted thing to do. Even then, they remain very conservative in their approach. Remember that the purpose of marketing is to grab someone’s attention. That does not mean your marketing has to be garish, obnoxious or cheap. When you do it well, it can be classy, memorable and “professional.”
2. Viewing marketing as an expense. Some professionals believe that calling marketing an investment is just semantics. But you won’t get very far if you think of it as nothing more than an expense. Every marketing dollar and minute you spend is an investment in yourself and your business, with an expected return. Depending on the tactical results you’re gauging, the ROI may not be as easy to measure as a return on money invested in the stock market. However, it’s still an investment. The key is to maximize your investment by doing it right.
3. Marketing without a “clean” database. The core of your marketing program is your database, or multiple databases, of current, prospective and former clients as well as referral sources. These are the people who most likely will be buying from you or acting as a conduit to you. If a glowing article appeared about you in the business section today, is your database up-todate enough that you could get reprints out by e-mail or U.S. post today or tomorrow? If the answer is no, putting your database in order should be at the top of your marketing list.
4. A limited marketing mindset. The attitude that everyone within your organization is part of the marketing team and impacts business development and client retention should permeate your organization. This extends from the managing partner/director to the people in the file room to the “director of first impressions” – your receptionist.
5. Shotgun marketing. Many professionals attempt to market without a marketing plan. How can you reach your goals if you’re not clear what they are? As with any new business venture, you need a blueprint to give you direction. It does not have to be a voluminous document, but it should be a road map that will focus your efforts. Don’t resist putting your plans on paper; it will help you crystallize your thoughts. The clarity brought about by stated end goals and tactics to achieve them can make a tremendous difference.
6. Failing to execute. You may have terrific ideas, but how will they benefit you if they are never put into play? Don’t be afraid to try implementing proven marketing tactics in innovative ways. You won’t know if your idea works until you execute it.
7. Executing Inconsistently. If you’ve executed your idea once, you’ve made a great start. However, executing consistently builds the momentum that brings results. For example, if you send a direct mail/email piece once and don’t do it again, you haven’t finished the job. Even if you get no response at all the first time, send it again before you evaluate the results. Don’t think of it as throwing good money after bad. It’s the repeated impressions that make the difference.
8. Judging results too quickly. Successful marketing happens over time. It takes time to make an impact in the minds of your target market. If you launch a public relations campaign and judge the results in three months, you may jettison what might have been a successful program given adequate time.
9. Stopping their marketing when things get busy. Don’t market only when things slow down. It’s important to keep up your momentum even if it’s just a phone call a day to a prospective client or current client that you haven’t spoken to in a while.
10. Looking for the magic bullet. People often look for the one way to market – advertising, direct mail, networking. The truth is that a marketing program is made of a mix of elements. The trick is to find the balance that optimizes your return.
Sharon Berman is principal of Berbay Marketing & PR, a marketing consulting firm specializing in working with professional services firms. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The firm’s website is www.berbay.com.