What keeps your clients up at night, and how can your services allay their anxieties? The answer will guide your messaging strategy to show them why they should trust you throughout the professional relationship-building process. You might be able to serve your clients well with your services, but they won’t care about that if your marketing messages don’t resonate with them emotionally and intellectually and earn their trust.
You have the opportunity to use what you know about your clients to communicate with your target audiences effectively so that they see you as a trustworthy provider of valuable services. Here are six traits to consider as you think about whom you serve best and how to communicate with them:
This includes any topic that makes them take notice such as their personal and professional activities. For example, if you know that your client is interested in golf and you have a decent handicap, it’s a simple request to invite them to play with you and some of your contacts with whom they’d like to become better acquainted. If you know your client likes a particular author, you can send them an autographed copy of his or her latest work. This will get your client’s attention better than any brochure or email.
Everybody has a unique perspective on life, and your clients are no different. You may or may not agree with some of your clients’ opinions, but it’s important to be aware of them so that you can adapt your communications to their preferences. This will make it easy to show them that even if you don’t always agree on everything, you’ve still got their back no matter what.
Attitudes are like opinions except they are more deeply rooted in a person’s psyche, and often stem from their cultural upbringing and environment. They color everything about how your clients perceive themselves in relation to others, and heavily influence their decision making behavior. Like opinions, you might not always like your clients’ attitudes, but understanding how and why they feel the way they do will help you develop a trusting relationship with them regardless.
It’s just a number, but it can help you understand more about your clients because it informs you of the overarching social context in which they spent their formative years. Knowing what was going on in society when they were teenagers, young adults, and when they first gained experience in the real world will give you insight into why they think and feel the way they do now.
People also tend to face specific challenges at different times of their lives. From a recent college grad who’s looking for opportunities, to an established professional who’s thinking about buying a house, to an executive-level person who’s concerned about their retirement, a person’s age and the issues they encounter in their lives are often linked.
No matter how much you understand about your clients, if they don’t have the finances to hire you then it’s a non-starter. You don’t need to peer into their wallets or their budgets, you just need to be sensitive to the fact that just because someone is interested in hiring you doesn’t necessarily mean they can afford to do so. This is especially true if you offer a premium service at an exclusive price point. Having an understanding of your clients’ financial situation will also help you find ways to communicate the value of your services as you negotiate to give them the best deal you possibly can.
People generally prefer to do business with local professional service providers, and many providers are restricted geographically as to where they can operate. In addition, even if you don’t have any regional limits on your services, thinking about your clients’ physical location can inform you as to what their business culture is like and how it influences their decision making.
For example, a particular award or recognition might be considered very prestigious in one locale, and totally irrelevant in another. Or, a trade association might have a thriving chapter in one city, and not even have a presence in another. These are all factors that can influence how you communicate with the people in your target audiences.
It’s extremely important to have a holistic understanding of your target audiences as you plan your strategy to build relationships with them. This will allow you to show that you truly care about them, and that you take their thoughts and feelings into consideration as you reach out to them with your marketing communications.
About the author
Steve Nichols, MS is a marketing consultant who helps professional services providers and small businesses build trust with clients. He’s the owner of Boswell Inc., and the author of "How to Market Your Firm Effectively: by Building Trust with Clients" on Amazon.com. You can Connect with him on LinkedIn or Follow him on Twitter.