In his book, How Pleasure Works, Paul Bloom cites research experiments that point to the fact that we are all drawn to and trust what is familiar. Lawyers, accountants, engineers, and other professional service providers, take note! Familiarity is an important factor to use to your advantage in business development. Your chances of obtaining a referral, engaging a new client, or winning more business from a current client are much greater if your marketing and public relations focus on making people familiar with your firm’s name.
For instance, in order to avoid liability, professionals often suggest two or three firms to someone who needs a referral rather than recommending just one. If you’re on that list of two or three professional service firms, you don’t want to be the one the prospect has never heard of while he or she is already familiar with your competitors because they’ve done a better job marketing and getting their name out. Your lack of familiarity will put you at a distinct disadvantage. Even if the prospect calls you for a consultation, it’s going to be an uphill battle to sell your legal, accounting, real estate, financial or other professional services.
Although you often can’t draw a direct line between your marketing and PR activities and business coming in the door, the point of these efforts is to “get your name out there” or to make your firm more “user-friendly,” as a prospective client recently called it. What he meant was that he wanted more name recognition so that prospective clients would immediately recognize the firm as experts in the field when they heard the name. Effective marketing and public relations can create that immediate, “of course, I’ve heard of them.” Without marketing and PR, a professional service firm has to work much harder to overcome the resistance of prospective clients who have never heard of them.