Are You Selling What Clients are Buying?

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For those of you who did not read the recent article entitled, "The Branding Cure...My Career as a Therapist" by Lori Gottleib printed in the New York Times magazine on Sunday, November 25th, I will happily share the lessons learned by this author in her quest to build a professional practice. I draw your attention to this article because the author's experience was much the same as it would be for any professional service provider - attorney, financial planner or CPA - as she attempted to differentiate her practice and create a recognizable and sought after brand. The advice she received early on in this process was, "Nobody wants to buy therapy anymore, they want to buy a solution to a problem." If you simply substitute the words "accounting and tax services" for "therapy" you get the message that consultants have been applying to our profession for years. That is, clients don't want to buy accounting and tax services, they want to buy solutions. Most clients see their CPA's technical experience and capability as a conduit for helping them arrive at the right business decisions. Ms. Gottleib goes on to explain that many of her clients admitted that a sense of connection was more important in choosing a therapist than the clinician's reputation or even training. This, too, sounds very familiar to us all! How many times have we agreed that ours is a relationship business - that creating and maintaining meaningful, strong connections is what keeps clients loyal, enabling successful firms to boast of high retention rates. Interestingly, marketing courses are being added to the curriculum for therapists, indicating that marketing and branding communications is now playing a major role in practice development. The awareness of the influence of marketing on the professional services world is not a new story for accountants - but it was interesting to see the same messages that we hear in the accounting world being sent to other professionals as well. It served as further confirmation for us all that we need to be selling what our clients are interested in buying - with profitable and sustainable business solutions and powerful, supportive relationships topping their list!

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