All professional service firms covet new revenue. However, it’s a misnomer to think the first step is to market externally in order to get new revenue.

In reality, it’s most important to think defensively like a championship football coach. Yes, a sports metaphor is apropos.

No championship is won on offense. Championships are won on defense – protecting the goal line. That’s accomplished with effective internal marketing.

So for a professional service firm, most new revenue actually stems from the current client base – in repeat business and referrals.

Once, you maximize your internal marketing, you can get a better return on your investment in external marketing.

Two overlooked tactics 

Firstly, many firms under-estimate the potential value or demand for additional services.

Secondly, they fail to effectively apprise their clients of all services they provide.

Despite what they think, professional service firms aren’t effective in marketing all their services. It’s important to connect the dots for clients.

To increase your odds for repeat business, it’s all about micro-managing your clients.

You must take extra measures to really get to know your clients’ situations and the looming issues from which they’ll be confronted.

Here are five thoughts you might wish to consider:

1. Select an employee to be your dedicated relationship-liaison

The problem with having the person who handles the day-to-day work for the client in order to manage the relationship to a higher level of business is that the person is too busy and focused on the workload to explore new possibilities.

The workload is too consuming for them. They’re preoccupied instead of contemplating marketing opportunities.

Often, they’re jaded in their thinking. It might surprise you to know they become a little cynical and bored with the drudgery of their work.

Pick an employee who can be objective in working with your employee who handles the day-to-day work to learn about the client. Such a person will also know when to help clients deal with the typical emotional crisis.

2. Assimilate a formal review of issues

Include a formal review of threats and issues possibly affecting your client in an upgrade of your client-management approach.

You’re likely to identify issues that your client will need to know and discuss.

3. Prospect for opportunities

With your formal review, you will be in a position to discuss options with your client. Whether the client can successfully address the issues or retains you to provide solutions, you’ve done a stellar job of client service.

“Internal marketing is probably much more important than external marketing. That’s even more true today than it’s ever been.”

-Tom Stewart

4. Client-meeting approach

Partner with your clients. Be assertive – not aggressive. In your client meetings, insert the potential issues on your agenda.

If your clients aren’t thanking you regularly, paying your invoices promptly or responding well to your recommendations, you must use strategies to build long-term client relationships with effective meetings.

In this way, your client will see you more as a valued partner, not a salesperson.

5. Monthly marketing

Whether it’s an anchor client with whom you have regular face-time or an occasional client, keep in touch each month.

In this way, you’ll avoid the “out of sight, out of mind syndrome” in which you’ll risk your client hiring someone else to handle new issues.

At the minimum, the easiest method is to send them a monthly newsletter. Include issues or proposed legislation that affect most clients.

For top-of-the-mind-awareness, it’s recommended you outshine your competitors with great newsletters.

From the Coach’s Corner, get off to a good start with new clients. Even though you might be marketing one specific part of your practice to diversify your portfolio of clients, make certain you touch all the bases.

Here’s an example from a personal case study:

Years ago, I was aware of a financial institution that was getting bad publicity, and I knew I could solve its challenges in marketing.

My value proposition: “The CMS approach will save you time and money in marketing, human resources, and special projects,” which was included in a few well-written letters to the CEO.  But the letters didn’t generate a response.

So I once a week I began to cold-call the CEO. Then, one day one of his executives intercepted me in the lobby to schedule an appointment to meet with her. (I put on a happy face, but inside I was groaning because my approach is to only do business with the CEO.)

At the scheduled meeting, three other executives were seated at the conference room table. Then it became clear, the CEO wanted to know how I dealt with his key employees before meeting me.

Soon I got an audience with the CEO. I began with my value proposition, and then segued to my marketing benefit statements and began to ask open-ended questions.

Much to my surprise, the CEO responded: “That’s all very nice but right now I want to hear about your HR training program.” His marketing issues were exacerbated by internal issues.

He ended up being a highly valued client in HR and marketing for nearly 20 years. On a regular basis, he added special projects.

Related sources of information:

11 Web Site Strategies to Grow Your Professional Service Firm — If you want to grow your professional-service firm, don’t ignore your most-visible marketing vehicle – your Web site. To retain and add clients to grow your practice, compelling thought leadership and other qualities that generate trust are key factors for your Web site.

Google Rank – 23 Key Questions about Your Web Site — Google has unveiled vital information about what it considers important for Web site ranking. Many sites have benefited and others haven’t fared well as well as they could in their Google ranking. Well, Google has made it clear what it considers all-important.

Marketing Lessons from Poor-Performing Wealth Investment Firms — Registered investment advisor (RIA) firms might want more clients, but 95 percent are lacking in marketing and business development. Worse, 70 percent don’t even have a strategic plan to grow.

Scholar: Get More Bang from Your Online Ad Investment — Advertisers can get the most return on their Internet advertising investments by using better metrics for sourcing, according to research by Wharton marketing Professor Ron Berman.

“Internal marketing is probably much more important than external marketing. That’s even more true today than it’s ever been.”

-Tom Stewart


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.