Three Sales and Marketing Strategies to Drive Growth in 2018
By Elizabeth Harr, Partner, Hinge Marketing

With Q2 in full effect, now is a good time to do a health check on your current marketing strategies, and plan your marketing roadmap for success over the rest of 2018. Here are 3 powerful strategies to build upon as you get started. 

1. Get Inside Your Buyer’s Mind
In Theodore Levitt’s brilliant 1960 Harvard Business Review article, “Marketing Myopia,” he wrote, “Selling focuses on the needs of the seller, marketing on the needs of the buyer.” He made a strong case that businesses were not really seeing the buyer’s perspective, needs and motivations. More than half a century later — thanks to Levitt and other marketing thought leaders — most of us know that it is our clients who drive the marketplace. Even so, most companies are complacent. Because they work with their clients every day, they assume they understand the pressures their clients face. In most cases, they could not be more wrong.

Your buyers’ needs and priorities change continually. If you do not have a system for monitoring clients’ changing priorities, you have a big blind spot.

Research is the answer. It gives you new insights about your clients — and data that can help you make better decisions about what services you sell to whom, and how.

2. Know How You are Different — and Lead with It
As you’ve probably experienced, most professional services firms tend to look and sound like their competitors. In fact, they often are the same — providing essentially the same services to the same audiences.

Why? Because many firms are founded when practitioners leave their old firms to launch their own ventures. These new entrepreneurs generally model their businesses on what they are familiar with. The result: a multitude of lookalike companies.

So how does a buyer choose whom to hire? The answer is differentiation , a topic I have written about before. If a firm can uncover (or create) unique qualities about itself, it can use them to separate itself from the pack. Usually this takes the form of specialization — and that means sacrificing one part of your market to create traction and opportunity in another.

But even more important is to find those qualities your potential clients actually want to hear about. Identify an attribute you can “own” in your market. It does not need to be unique, as long as it is something your competitors are not already claiming about themselves. Once you know your key differentiator, focus on making it the one thing that clients think of when they hear your firm’s name. That’s the power of differentiation.

3. Increase the Visibility of Your Expertise 
Boosting the visibility of your firm and its experts is one of the most effective marketing investments you can make. Visible Expertise relies heavily on content marketing — in which a firm’s experts share their knowledge by publishing and speaking to target audiences. Over time, the firm builds trust with the audience … and when the moment comes that a member of your audience is ready to purchase services or make a referral, your firm will be on the top of their mind.

For many firms, this strategy is quite different from how they are used to marketing. For others, it is more about sharpening their focus on activities they do already, and turning up the volume.
What Will Drive Your Sales and Marketing in 2018?

No one knows what the future will bring, so it is smart business to periodically reevaluate your sales and marketing strategy. Which strategies make the most sense for you? By adopting these three strategies, built on marketing fundamentals, you’ll be able to adapt to whatever market changes may come. 

Elizabeth Harr is an accomplished entrepreneur and experienced executive who heads the technology services team at Hinge. Elizabeth brings over 15 years experience in strategic planning, brand management and communications to her role as Partner.

--This article appeared in the Spring 2018 Service Contractor
Magazine. Click here to view the PDF version of this article--