Voices

Plucking the low-hanging fruit

Periodically, every farmer will go around and pluck the low-hanging fruit so that it doesn't spoil. Well, the same principle applies to effective professional service marketers.

As marketers, we spend most of our money on marketing and lead generation to total strangers. We spend money to create awareness of our business and attempt to interest them in becoming a prospect. If they take the bait, we then dance with them regarding their problems, listen to their pain points and recommend a couple solutions to overcome their pain. While some of these people might convert into clients, many you've taken the time to engage with eventually fall off of your radar screen because the pain wasn't severe enough to overcome their inertia or they just weren't ready.

In reality, the selling cycle is instantaneous for some people and takes years for others. The challenge is to remain top-of-mind with the types who take extra time to make a decision. While they may take longer to convert, they can turn into high-quality, long-term clients. You don't want to let the work you did to get in front of them in the first place go to waste.

To pluck this low-hanging fruit, here are some strategies to remain within their consideration and maintain the relationship that was initiated earlier. That way, whenever they are ready you'll be there.

Email newsletters: An email newsletter is an inexpensive way to remain top-of-mind with past prospects and add value to the relationship. Every lead, prospect and referral should be added to your email newsletter list and then shown some love (monthly or quarterly). Creating an email newsletter is simple and quick if you have the right provider. Opt for an email newsletter provider in your industry that provides relevant accounting and tax articles for you to use. That way, you're not left writing all the content every time. Personalize the introduction of your newsletters and insert valuable articles on topics that relate to your services. This elevates you as a knowledgeable professional in your field.

Free reports: Sending out an occasional booklet or free report is a great way to break someone's inertia. It shows off your knowledge on a topic and positions you as an expert on the topic. This can help a prospective client develop trust. Free reports can cover a variety of topics. Pick something that closely relates to your services and answers questions your prospect might have. Cover the new tax law and how it'll impact local businesses, share tax-saving tips, etc.

Handwritten notes: Sending a handwritten note and attaching an article on a subject that is relevant to your prospect is a great way to harvest low hanging fruit. Your prospect will be pleased to know that you are thinking of them.

Case studies: Developing a case study on how you helped a client overcome a particular issue is an amazing way to show that your services work. Often the fear of paying for something that won't get the job done is one of the biggest things that hold people back — whether they are buying a new lawnmower or paying for tax planning services. A case study (or a few) that proves the effectiveness of your services can help convert these types of people. Consider attaching a personalized letter and send to your fence-sitters.

Social media: Your clients and prospective clients are probably already using social media. While the thought of committing to social media can look daunting and time-consuming, it can be a great way to stay in front of your prospective clients. Choose one social media platform that makes the most sense for you and your firm. Think about a platform you're already comfortable with so you're not learning a whole new medium. If you're already active on one platform, it'll be easier to get some current followers to your new page. Maybe you will choose Facebook since you're targeting more individuals and you have already connected with some of them on Facebook. Or, if you're looking to target local businesses, LinkedIn might be the one for you.

Testimonials: More than 75 percent of people trust online reviews as much as word-of-mouth recommendations. Furthermore, more than 80 percent of people check reviews for products and services before they commit to buying or calling. By getting a steady flow of reviews from happy clients, you can break down the wall of a new prospect and show you're someone who can be trusted.

Meet for coffee: To break the ice and re-connect, send out notes to a dozen fence-sitters and offer to meet for coffee. To secure the meeting, you will need to follow up the note with a phone call. Sometimes face-to-face interaction is the best way to build the trust you need.

Take some time today to pluck some low-hanging fruit.