When one of your clients says, “Oh, I didn’t know you did that!”, what’s your response?
Disaster, you think.
I’ve failed in my marketing, you think.
How could my clients possibly consider going to anyone else for this type of service? Why do they not realise we do this? What do I have to fix, instantly, so everyone knows what we offer at all times?
Hoooold on there. Take it easy. There’s no panicking required.
Marketing has changed.
Your highest priority (even higher than that of generating great new content) is to build community. To build relationships with your clients and prospects.
Make it so that they connect with you so often and in so many different ways that you will always be one of the first people they talk to about an issue in their business or life.
Then, if you do provide a service that sorts out their issue, grand. You’ll be talking to them, you can bring it up, you sort them out, everyone is happy.
If you don’t provide that service, you’ll still know about their issue and can point them in the direction of the person or business who can help solve it for them. Again, they’re sorted out, they thank you, everyone is happy.
The beautiful truth is, you don’t have to stress about proclaiming to your clients every single type of service you offer.
Matter of fact, it wouldn’t matter if you did! Because they’re not going to remember every service you offer – they’re only going to notice the ones relevant to them at the time they need them.
Here’s what you need to focus on:
1. Build community.
Figure out a way to be in contact with a group of your clients on a regular basis.
It may be a Facebook group. MAP created one for their creative agency clients to talk to each other and to the MAP team. PF have a marketing community for accountants. (You’re very welcome to join it.)
It could be on Slack. Raedan and a few other firms we know use Slack to talk with their creative and tech clients, because that’s software they’re used to using every day. (We use it in PF, too, for our Accelerator and Social Marketer members.)
It could be someone else’s community or group. A lot of our clients are members of Chris Marr’s Content Marketing Academy, and we can talk to them in there, and they can talk to each other.
You need to build community: but you personally don’t have to be the one who runs it, necessarily. The point is that your clients are grouped together in a place where you are talking to them, and they are talking to each other.
It’s safe, it’s non-salesy, it’s welcoming, and it’s encouraging.
When you build community in this way, you’ll have the heads up when your clients have an issue, and you can point out the service you offer when they need it – not when you’re ready to share it.
2. Be available on multiple different platforms so they can get in touch when they need to.
Your community (if you build one) is a start – but not everyone likes Facebook. Not everyone will use Slack. When someone has an issue, they’re going to either use their default communication channel, or they will simply use the one they’re on at the time.
I use all the channels – text, email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, whatsapp, and on and on. Sometimes I can’t remember what channel I used to talk to someone last because I’ve used all of them at different times and for different purposes. But if I’ve got an issue, I’ll either use the one I’m on at the time, or I’ll go to the one I know I’ll get a response on.
You have to be available and be responsive. The most responsive accountant gets the work – every time. Naturally they need to actually be good at what they do, but let’s presume that’s true. If you contact four accountants with an issue, you’re going to be most likely to work with the one who is the most responsive because it gives you a good indication of how the relationship will go in the future.
One of the reasons your clients may not be telling you about the problem they have (which you are fully able to solve) is not because they don’t know you could help them, but because you’re not as responsive to them as someone else was. Or you’re not as involved in their life.
3. Ask good questions.
One of my favourite characteristics of my accountant is that they ask great questions. When I saw Paul Barnes at Accountex, we chatted for a while about life and business and opportunities. As the conversation drew to an end, he asked, “Are you getting everything from us that you need?”
What a great question. It’s not salesy. It’s not focused on them – it’s focused on me. And it’s open.
You can phrase it however you like – make it sound like you. A few examples I’ve heard people say (including ones that I say) are:
- What do you want to talk about today?
- Is there any person or company that I can connect you with?
- Are you getting everything from us that you need?
- How is the team taking care of you?
- What do you wish would get done faster?
- Did you have any other questions for me while I’m here?
- How are you?
All of these questions have to be sincere, but that last question has to be the most sincere of all.
Our culture uses that question as a greeting. “Hey, how are you?” “Good thanks!” and we both move on.
But when you ask it genuinely, with sincerity, with eye contact, waiting sincerely for the answer, you often get surprised by how much people tell you.
I use it all the time when shopping. Tescos, Primark, whatever. “How are you doing today?” (I usually add the ‘today’ because it makes them hear it differently than the throwaway ‘how are you’ question.)
Then ask follow up questions. If they do simply say “fine thanks”, ask something else. Notice what they were doing, what they’re wearing, what they said earlier, what you talked about in the last meeting. “How’s your mum doing?” – “Did you work out that issue with hiring?” – “How did you get on with equipment lease?”
4. Share stories and brag about your other clients
When you make your other clients heroes, and tell the stories of things they’ve achieved or ways you’ve helped them, it will bring up conversation about what this client is going through.
You can do this in a variety of ways:
- Create full case studies and share them on your website
- Write blog posts featuring your clients and successes they’ve had
- Share social posts that your clients share (with a comment about how great they are)
- Record video of your clients talking about an issue they had which is now solved
- Record a video yourself, telling a story about a client. (If you get their permission, use their name and company. If they would prefer you didn’t, share the story in a general way, so it’s not obvious who it is, but the story is there.)
The more stories you tell about your clients and the challenges they’re going through, the more likely it is that your other clients will pay attention to it, and remember it when the time comes for them.
We remember story more than anything else. One of the speakers at CMA Live said that the best content marketer in the world was Jesus. He only taught and travelled round for three years of His life, but He constantly told stories. The whole Bible is full of stories – not dry theological arguments. Stories like the Good Samaritan, and the prodigal son, are known the world over, thousands of years later. People remember stories.
Tell some stories about your clients so that when other clients have an issue, or a problem, your story will come to mind. And so will you.