This week, we wrap-up our five week series of posts on Marketing Strategies to Drive Your Firm’s Growth with the fifth P – Promotion. Too often, firms jump right into marketing promotion without first defining the other four P’s (Positioning, Product and Service Mix, Pricing, and Place) in their marketing strategy. Unfortunately, when you start your marketing planning with this last “P” – Promotion – your firm will not realize the results that are possible from your marketing investments. However, once the first four P’s are defined, you’ll be ready to develop your firm’s promotional plan, leveraging your firm’s “story” and competitive differentiators so that you can effectively target your marketing activities.
Your Firm’s Story
Your firm’s brand identity – or how your partners, staff, and products and services are viewed in the marketplace is much more than your logo, tagline, and colors, which are simply the physical manifestations that signify your brand to others. You have truly defined your brand in its entirety when you have written your firm’s “story.” Your firm’s story should address the following:
- Who are you?
- Why are you different?
- Who do you serve?
- How do you deliver solutions?
- What solutions do you offer?
- Why would a client choose to work with you?
- What difference will you make for me?
- How do I reach you?
In the promotion step, you will simply put all the preparation you have already done in the first four steps together to create your firm’s story to target your ideal client base. Once you have written your firm’s story, you can then drill down and create “mini stories” for your key niche initiatives, products, and services that you want to promote independently, using a similar format. You can view a sample firm story by clicking here.
Once your story is developed, you can then develop a promotional plan that includes a combination of branding and lead generation activities. First, weave your story into your firm’s various marketing materials, including your letterhead, business cards, newsletters, web site, brochures, and proposals.
We also recommend that you weave your story into your verbal communications. Craft an elevator pitch, which is a shortened and succinct version (one or two sentences at most) of your story to support you in conveying who you serve and what benefits or outcomes you help clients achieve. Then, prepare some additional supporting points to expand on your elevator pitch when people ask to hear more about what you do and how you do it.
Next, consider specific branding and lead generation activities such as direct mail, teleprospecting, surveys, advertising, sponsorships, public relations, networking, alliance development, conferences and trade shows, live or web seminars, client roundtables, and more.
Remember the key rule of marketing as you are writing copy for your promotions: include a clearly stated benefit for your target prospect or client when they engage you for the service you are promoting. This benefit statement is sometimes called WIIFM, or “what’s in it for me?” By answering your audience’s question, “so what?” or “why do I care about what you are saying to me?” in your promotional materials, your marketing message is much more likely to produce real results.
A diversified plan that includes a balanced blend of both branding and lead generation activities occurring throughout the year will produce the best results. Be sure that you are investing in marketing activities that speak to your four main audiences – your internal leaders and staff, existing clients, prospective clients, and referral sources. Your promotional materials should consistently brand your firm with your logo and colors, other key graphics, and your tagline if appropriate.
Be sure to track your activities in a marketing calendar to easily see what you have planned, the timing of each, who in your firm owns the activity, and what resources you will need. You can also use your marketing calendar to measure the outcome of your activities and make changes to the plan as needed to focus your firm’s future resources on those promotional activities that produce the best results.
When you build your firm’s marketing plan around the Five P’s in the proper order, your chosen promotional activities will support your marketing and firm strategies instead of “accidentally” creating a marketing plan based on outcomes from “haphazard” activities as Jennifer Wilson said in her first post on this series. Undertake the steps outlined in our series of blog posts on the Five P’s and start experiencing the benefits of a well-thought out marketing approach that will produce the “right” kind of business for your firm.
Reminder: For a step-by-step methodology to achieve practice growth, check out our self-study video course developed with the AICPA, Marketing: Successful Strategies for CPA Firms. Friends of ConvergenceCoaching can receive a 20% discount when you use code SGH by August 15. Visit www.cpa2biz.com for more information.