4 Worst Ways to Get New Clients Reviewed by Momizat on . That You Think Still Work What are the most effective ways to market professional services? In this article, Rod Burkert shares the four worst ways to get new c That You Think Still Work What are the most effective ways to market professional services? In this article, Rod Burkert shares the four worst ways to get new c Rating: 0
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4 Worst Ways to Get New Clients

That You Think Still Work

What are the most effective ways to market professional services? In this article, Rod Burkert shares the four worst ways to get new clients.

4 Worst Ways to Get New Clients That You Think Still Work

We all know the “generally accepted” marketing techniques to create referral opportunities that can lead to new clients. We also know the mileage of different techniques can vary.

What if I could tell you the worst (and best) ways? Backed up by research? Well, I can. Because a while back, I attended Hinge Marketing’s Referral Marketing for Financial and Accounting Firms webinar.

Hinge surveyed 1,691 referral sources in professional service firms who make referrals to professional services firms. The crux of the program was to reveal how much, relatively speaking, our generally accepted techniques actually sway referral sources to, you know, send some work our way.

The webinar listed the four worst ways to get new clients, i.e., the generally accepted techniques that are, in fact, not viewed as strong referral drivers by the people who actually make referrals. (Next month, I’ll tell you the four best ways to get new clients!)

And here’s how to interpret each result: the number next to the technique is the percentage of 1,691 referral sources surveyed by Hinge who said they might be influenced to make a referral based on that action.

  1. Sponsorships—0.8%

This includes industry conferences and golf holes. Interestingly, while they are the least effective, their expense is the largest line item in many professional firms’ marketing budgets.

My take: You may have a valid reason for doing sponsorships, just don’t think it will generate more referrals. I was surprised by the poor result for industry conferences.

  1. Social Responsibility—2.1%

This includes donating time or money to a charitable cause or the community. Things like Relay for Life, Habitat for Humanity, or cleaning up downtown.

My take: These are wonderful things to do and help many people. Do them because you want to, but don’t confuse it with marketing.

  1. Asking for Referrals—2.8%

So now, we’re up to asking a referral source for a referral. It usually involves this kind of inquiry: “Do you know of any other companies that might benefit from the service I provide?”

My take: The low percentage is not surprising. You’re asking someone to put their credibility on the line when they refer you. Why would they do that? It can work for your longest, most trusted relationships—but not for someone you just wrapped up your first engagement with.

  1. Attending Networking Events—3.4%

The goal is to target and cultivate connections. It’s evolving. Networking 1.0 was fast tracking yourself as the solution to your target’s problem. Networking 2.0 is slow dancing while laying out a convincing case that hiring you is a win-win for both your and your target’s success.

My take: Pre-COVID-19, most professionals I talked to listed networking events as the bane of their existence. And even though they can play a role in opening doors and creating opportunities, now you know something you suspected all along—they’re not all that effective.

What’s the lesson to be learned?

Referral sources do not see these actions as being influential in their decision to make referrals. Of course, you will always find a colleague who will say some of these things worked for them.

I’m not saying these four techniques never work. Just that they work so poorly that you have to second (and third) guess the time and money you invest in them.


Everyone has a different idea of what a successful practice is. The practice you want is personal because it is based on what “successful” means to you. Rod helps practitioners focuses on the strategies, tactics, tools, and tech to build/grow/scale their versions of successful practices. If you want some help with that, e-mail Rod at rod@rodburkert.com.

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