5 Unique Challenges of Promoting Professional Services

by Liz Lynch

Having worked in a professional services capacity for the majority of my career, whether it be in a firm, from inside a corporation, or as the face of my own company, I know that the marketing tactics that work for retailers, product companies and consumer services aren’t as effective for selling business expertise.

If you’re struggling to attract clients on a consistent basis and fill your practice, it’s not your fault. Here are 5 of the biggest challenges I see in selling and promoting professional services:

1) You’re selling the invisible. People can’t hold your service in their hands, can’t look at it, or weigh it. They have a hard time grasping what it is you do and how exactly you can help them. Professional service providers need to do a much better job of translating what they do into how that actually helps potential clients.

2) Your potential clients aren’t frequent buyers. They’ve probably never bought a service like yours before so they don’t know how to tell you apart from everyone else who does what you do. They don’t know what criteria to evaluate you on or what they should expect from working with you. And all of this leads to them not being sure about needing your service in the first place or how to much to pay for it. So a lot of education is needed.

3) Joint ventures and partnerships can help you greatly. Because your service is not an impulse purchase and likely something they’ve never purchased before, most of the time, they’ll get a recommendation from someone they know. That’s why having referral relationships to get others spreading the word about you and recommending you are especially valuable in your profession.

4) Promoting your business can’t be hype-y. You have a reputation to uphold with the kinds of clients that you want to reach. They’re high-end, and you always want to be seen as an expert and trusted advisor in their eyes, not a used car salesman. Promoting your business has to be done in a professional way. You can’t do anything that’s gimmicky or sales-y or high pressure.

5) You’re really selling yourself. This is perhaps the worst part of having your own practice. Haven’t you thought more than once how much easier it would be to sell a product or somebody else’s service? Selling yourself is just so uncomfortable. You don’t want to seem boastful, and when there’s rejection, it’s hard not to take that personally. So what I find is that many professionals are afraid to go too far out on a limb to promote themselves, which means they never get traction and getting clients is a continual struggle.

So, what can you do to address these challenges? In the next issue of Smart Networking Success, I’ll share my top tips for professional service providers to promote themselves authentically and confidently. In the meantime, I’d love to see you me on December 18th for a special year-end Q&A call for the Smart Networking community.

© 2009-2012, Liz Lynch International LLC

Liz Lynch, author of Smart Networking: Attract a Following In Person and Online, works with 6-figure professionals who have great expertise but suffer from “promo-phobia.” To learn how to get better known and attract the opportunities you deserve, visit www.LizLynchOnline.com.

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