Many of the services we use every day are based on a practice model. Loosely defined as a group of experts in a particular sector, often trained to a professional standard, selling their expertise to clients, the term can include dentists, opticians, architects, solicitors and financial advisors.
While there may be an element of selling a physical product, largely these are service-based businesses, often relatively small and independently owned, where the owner is a technical expert in the sector. Marketing businesses based on a practice model has particular challenges.
Every member of the team has a high level of technical expertise. The successful marketer needs to ask the right questions to gain an understanding of that expertise. Only then can they start to communicate it to potential customers or clients. Jargon and technical language can be a barrier – employees can be hugely knowledgeable and experienced, and it can be hard to try and take a career’s worth of expertise and create, for example, a short blog post that can be understood outside the sector.
Employees often have a personal relationship with the clients or customers, and as a marketer, the challenge is to complement that relationship and build on it. Often it is about giving staff members the tools to market themselves, whether that is print-based, or supporting and coaching them to present their expertise via social media.
The practice is often operating in a very crowded market place. There are lots of lawyers, architects, opticians and financial advisers. Being all things to all people is not a strategy for success, so how do you make your practice stand out from the crowd? The successful marketer will work with the practice to define that niche and communicate it to potential customers.
Practice businesses rarely sell on a one-off basis. This is not a buying and selling world, it is about building relationships with clients over a very long time. So your marketing activity shouldn’t just be looking for new clients, although that is important. It should also be looking to identify your valuable clients, work out how to retain them and grow your relationship with them. It should also be working out how to get your great clients to do your marketing for you – recommending their friends or business associates.
If your practice based business needs some marketing help, on a one-off or an ongoing basis, please contact me.