3 Sales and Marketing Strategies to Drive Growth in 2017
Strive to Differentiate Yourself and Become the Visible Expert
In this article, Dr. Frederiksen discusses three sales and marketing strategies to drive growth in 2017.
Whether you are knee-deep in tax work or engaged in other accounting business, now is a good time to plan how you are going to grow and succeed during the rest of 2017.Â As you create and refine this yearâ€™s sales and marketing plan, here are three powerful strategies to build on.
1.Â Get Inside Your Buyerâ€™s Mind
In Theodore Levittâ€™s brilliant 1960 Harvard Business Review article, â€śMarketing Myopia,â€ť he wrote, â€śSelling focuses on the needs of the seller, marketing on the needs of the buyer.â€ť Â He made a strong case that businesses were not really seeing the buyerâ€™s perspective, needs, and motivations.Â More than half a century laterâ€”thanks to Levitt and other marketing thought leadersâ€”most of us know that it is our clients who drive the marketplace.Â Even so, most companies are complacent.Â Because they work with their clients every day, they assume they understand the pressures their clients face.Â In most cases, they could not be more wrong.
Your buyersâ€™ needs and priorities change continually.Â Even if you asked clients directly about their challenges, they probably would not tell you everything, for a number of reasons.Â They might be reluctant to reveal financial or operational weakness, or they might assume that your services cannot help them with their problems.Â If you do not have a system for monitoring clientsâ€™ changing priorities, you have a big blind spot.
Research is the answer.Â It gives you new insights about your clientsâ€”and data that can help you make better decisions about what services you sell to whom, and how.
2.Â Know How You are Differentâ€”and Lead with It
As you have probably noticed by now, most professional services firms tend to look and sound like their competitors.Â In fact, they often are the sameâ€”providing essentially the same services to the same audiences.
Why? Â Because many firms are founded when practitioners leave their old firms to launch their own ventures.Â These new entrepreneurs generally model their businesses on what they are familiar with.Â The result: a multitude of lookalike companies.
So how does a buyer choose whom to hire? Â The answer is differentiation, a topic I have written about before.Â If a firm can uncover (or create) unique qualities about itself, it can use them to separate itself from the pack.Â Usually this takes the form of specializationâ€”and that means sacrificing one part of your market to create traction and opportunity in another.
But even more important is to find those qualities your potential clients actually want to hear about.Â Identify an attribute you can â€śownâ€ť in your market.Â It does not need to be unique, as long as it is something your competitors are not already claiming about themselves.Â Once you know your key differentiator, focus on making it the one thing that clients think of when they hear your firmâ€™s name.Â That is the power of differentiation.
3.Â Increase the Visibility of Your Expertise
Boosting the visibility of your firm and its experts is one of the most effective marketing investments you can make.Â Visible Expertise relies heavily on content marketingâ€”in which a firmâ€™s experts share their knowledge by publishing and speaking to target audiences.Â Over time, the firm builds trust with the audienceâ€¦and when the moment comes that a member of your audience is ready to purchase services or make a referral, your firm will be on the top of their mind.
For many firms, this strategy is quite different from how they are used to marketing.Â For others, it is more about sharpening their focus on activities they do already, and turning up the volume.
What Will Drive Your Sales and Marketing in 2017?
No one knows what the future will bring, so it is smart business to periodically reevaluate your sales and marketing strategy.Â Which strategies make the most sense for you? Â By adopting these three strategies, built on marketing fundamentals, you will be able to adapt to whatever market changes may come.Â Now it is your turn: consider these recommendations, and decide which ones will help your firm achieve its goals in 2017 and beyond.
Lee W. Frederiksen, PhD, is Managing Partner at Hinge, the leading branding and marketing firm for the professional services. Hinge conducts groundbreaking research into high-growth firms and offers a complete suite of services for firms that want to become more visible and grow.
Mr. Frederiksen can be contacted at (703) 391-8870 or by e-mail to LFrederiksen@hingemarketing.com.