Most firms work hard to craft the perfect marketing message. Then they build elaborate marketing strategies designed to get the message to the right people. Sometimes, however, the message is not in alignment with the total picture.
When you are trying to build a micro-niche business around your unique expertise in a specialized area of practice, everything you do and say should present a consistent and aligned picture of you and your expertise. You might ask, “If my business is built around me and my micro-niche expertise, how could it not be in alignment?”
Many things can go wrong in your image-building, marketing and client interactions. Any of these seemingly small details can be misaligned or inconsistent in some way. Often these small differences seem irrelevant to us. To clients, however, they create confusion or mistrust. These inconsistencies and misalignments might include
- Inconsistent messages – Your marketing and client messages should always be consistent in content, tone and focus. For example, one of your marketing messages is that you are better equipped to serve the needs and alleviate the pains of your target market because your expertise in the field provides more profound understanding of the needs of your clients. If you suddenly base a critical marketing claim on a misunderstanding of your client base, you damage your credibility in the market.
- Telling people you are a commodity – If you position yourself as an expert and try to build your business on that expertise you should define and explain what you do this way. For example, if you are an accountant specializing in tax issues for American businesses with manufacturing and assembly facilities in Mexico, telling someone who asks you what you do that you are an accountant, makes you a commodity and tells people you are a commodity.
- Treating micro-niche clients like everyone else – If one of the key marketing messages for your micro-niche business is that these clients receive elite customer service from you and your team, you cannot afford to treat any micro-niche client the same way you treat every $500 tax preparation client who walks in off the street on April 1.
- Facilities at odds with the message – If you want your micro-niche clients to pay premium prices for your products and services, and you tell them they can expect elite client interactions, holding client meetings in a cluttered closet-sized office that should have been painted five years ago sends a message that is out of alignment. Is that really how you think you should treat your best clients?
- Experts always appear professional – People expect experts to look the part. They expect experts to value and respect their clients enough to present themselves appropriately for client interactions of any kind. Turning up 20 minutes late, unshaven, in shorts and a tank top at a client’s office is not professional or appropriate.
There are many ways to send conflicting messages to clients and prospects. There are many ways to create a total picture not aligned with you key marketing message in one or more ways. An effective approach to creating consistent messaging and keep every detail of your business aligned with your messaging is
- Write a positioning statement that includes the need of the market, the solution you offer, your unique qualifications, your value proposition and the benefits you deliver to clients.
- Spend some time crafting from your positioning statement, the three to five key marketing messages you want every potential client to hear.
- Align everything with the positioning statement and the key marketing messages
- Business cards, letterhead, web site, e-mail signature, etc.
- Corporate overview and Marketing and Media kits
- Your office and client meeting space
- Your appearance
- Your characterization of your expertise and what you do
- A consistent client experience with everyone in your firm who ever has contact with the client
Unless your message is in alignment with the total picture you and your firm presents to clients and prospects, it will not ring true. This alignment and consistency must also carry over into your community and industry interactions. When you get the messaging right and build your micro-niche business around it, you will be poised for success.
By David Wolfskehl