Service Minded

Debra Helwig on Marketing & Leadership in Professional Services

Give ‘Em a Place to Park

Posted by debrahelwig on March 17, 2009

rooster-livers

Every time I drive to my in-laws’ place for a visit, I pass a number of country houses. Some are wood, some brick. Most are old. There’s a lot of farm equipment on front yards and in driveways. Even a few goats and cows.

But one house in particular stands out, every time. The one that has this sign in the yard:

Rooster Livers for Sale.

Not being much of a country girl, the first time I saw this sign I thought it was really, really funny. Then, after a few trips by it, I got intrigued. What the heck is a rooster liver? Is it really from a rooster? How is it different from a chicken liver? What the devil do you use them for?

Finally, one day just a few weeks ago, I couldn’t stand it anymore. I just had to know. I was ready to get some rooster liver religion and part with real dollars and cents to find out what I’d been missing. I told the kids to hang on, put on my turn signal, and starting rummaging for my wallet.

It was only then I saw the huge flaw in this country salesman’s marketing plan: there was no place to park my car. And no posted hours to buy them, either.

Operation Rooster Livers aborted on launch.

Once I got over my disappointment, the whole silly affair actually got me thinking about the professional services firms I work with every day.

As accountants (and lawyers, this applies to you too) we work awfully hard trying to intrigue our prospects with the unique aspects of our services. We write white papers and articles. We send newsletters. We hold seminars and go to networking events. We spread our name and our niches all over town.

But think for just a minute. How good are you, really, at making people feel comfortable about contacting you at the precise moment when they’re ready to do business with you? Do you make it perfectly clear how to find the right person without navigating a phone tree or filling out online forms?

But our sales are complex, you say. They take a long time. We can control the process better than that.

Hmmm, maybe. But what if that prospect finally hits the tipping point and decides he has to do something about his company’s issue at 2:00 in the morning? Or what if he’s prodded to urgency by an article on CNN.com or a tweet he just read, instead of something you sent to him? Can he remember who he talked to? And even if he can, do you make it easy for him to connect?

Let’s make the question even simpler. Wherever they are in the sales process, if prospects go to your Web site, can they easily locate the exact real live person at your firm who can give them the answers they need?

Do you give them a place to park?

I did eventually find out (thanks, Google) that Rooster Livers are really just chicken livers with high-velocity marketing spin. Folks use them for catfish bait, and though the people who sell Rooster Livers say they’re five times tougher, most old timers swear the only difference is their much higher price tag.

Just goes to show you, you can build a great niche if you position it right. But if people can’t get to you when they’re ready (not when you’re ready, when they are), all the marketing in the world won’t do you a darn bit of good.

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2 Responses to “Give ‘Em a Place to Park”

  1. Stephanie Hill said

    I think this is a very good analogy, and speaks to more than just accessibility. You have to have a brand that is memorable too if you want to be the provider the customer things of when they have made that purchase decision. Just remembering “that guy I talked to who seemed really on the ball” won’t do it. You have to develop a memorable brand.

  2. Very true and one reason why following up and keeping in touch can make a difference with professional services or other service providers. By staying fresh in someone’s mind, you have a better chance at the business because that one call or letter may come at a time when someone is unhappy or has a problem with their current auditor or lawyer.

    I’m more apt to use a provider that makes it easy (so to speak) for me. Case in point, I’m refinancing because my mortgage broker has stayed in touch and called when rates went down.

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