The problem professional advisers and consultants are confronted with in marketing is that they are not really selling their expertise because a prospect has to be assume they have this as they cannot intelligently evaluate it themselves. For example can you, just by speaking to a dentist, electrician, graphic designer, lawyer etc, determine if they know what they are talking about or whether they are just blowing smoke?
You have to work out how to market your business in such a way so as to generate confidence.
The only proof a prospect ever has is the results they get after they have tried it so they have to have a lot of trust in you if you are advising them on finance, law, tax etc. Interestingly enough even some solicitor and accounting practices are heading in to price wars as some prospects perceive them more and more as a commodity, e.g. I just need someone to do my tax, VAT, company tax return etc.
So how do you get out of this trap? Well, you need prospects who have been steeped in confidence and preferably oak-aged in it. But how do you do this?
The problem is, of course, that trust is not a rational thing. Bernie Madoff is an excellent example of misplaced trust. Anyone could have done their research, looked at the suspiciously large returns he was offering and would have stayed the hell away. But he did get a massive number of investors including wealthy individuals, wealth managers, investment portfolios and universities to invest billions in him over a 20 year period before it all collapsed in 2008. He was sentenced to prison for 150 years (the maximum term allowable) in 2009.
There are a numerous reasons people trusted Bernie despite all the evidence that they shouldn’t and the tactics he used could (and should) be used by ethical businesses to gain trust with their clients who they then serve properly.
So how do you create confidence within your prospects? How do you ensure that when they arrive at you for that initial consultation or chat that they have been oak-aged in confidence?
In a perfect world, all your prospects would arrive at that first formal meeting with you knowing that you’re the real deal, that you know your stuff and that they can trust you implicitly. But is this achievable?
Yes, but it takes some preparation work. You need to have a process in place that allows prospects to get to engage with and find out more about you and your reputation before that first consultation.
You need to utilise the key confidence levers such as:
Authority– you need to be recognised as an authority in your field (qualifications are important but proven results more so)
Long lasting– years in business and years in the community.
Similarity– people have much higher confidence in people like them, e.g. those with a similar background or who live in the same area, or who went to the same school or who enjoy the same activities
Credibility– you need to give a factual basis for confidence this includes proven results, case studies, your appearance, keeping your word etc.
Prospects oak-aged in confidence requires a process, use of these levers and more. My SMART marketing process is focused on creating confidence in your prospects (click through to find out about SMART marketing).
But how do you know when you’ve got it right? Clients bring prospects to you without any prompting!