The services industry is one of the fastest growing sectors on the planet, yet there are three worrying trends that will adversely affect the success of any company providing services to a time-poor market.
Time is the most valuable currency on the planet, no one has enough of it, we all regret wasting it and wish we had more of it.
Until now, being time-poor has served the services based industries well, because why would you waste time doing something for yourself, when an expert can get it done faster and more effectively than you could.
Success is all about timing, and there are three trends that are making it harder and harder for professional service providers to remain successful.
Worrying Trend #1 - Low Barrier to Entry
So many professional service providers such as advisors, business coaches, wellness experts, photographers and graphic designs complain that they have business competitors doing better than them, even though they have far less experience and credentials.
Guess what...you'd better get used to it.
Today anyone can pick up a camera (or smart phone) and call themselves a videographer or photographer or create cool stuff on Canva and call themselves a graphic designer.
I once met a life coach who was just 21 years old…You can imagine how that conversation turned out...
This is the #1 trend that is driving the need to have a stand out brand and why consistently marketing your area of expertise is so important.
The new girl with a yoga business and great Instagram skills can beat you, even if you have certificates and years of experience to prove you are better!
Grant Cardone once famously said "It's not the best that wins, it's the best known that wins".
In today's digital world, great branding and consistent marketing will beat credentials every time.
So make sure you are telling your brand story, pointing out the benefit of using a professional who has qualifications and expertise, lifting the lid on your industry and the shortcuts others are making. Use social media, pick the right channels and plan your marketing to leverage the best messages and times of the year, month and week to reach your ideal prospects.
Share tips and insight that only a qualified expert would know. And make sure your credentials, awards and industry membership logos are easily found on your website and email footer.
Worrying Trend #2 - Convenience Over Quality
I was speaking with the owner of a printing company years ago and I suggested that his days were numbered…that a large % of print would go digital and they would have to stop competing on quality and start focusing on convenience. He listened and out in a direct to plate machine, and has since moved into digital asset management as well as printing.
There is no way your desktop printer bought from Aldi or Officeworks could match the quality coming off a conventional printing press, but does that really matter?
You can argue that you deliver better quality due to personalised service or expertise, but your marketplace is going to choose the easy way out. And they are going to look for convenience every single time. Quality is secondary.
A bookkeeper recently defended his quality of service because you can’t trust the online tools or outsourced services to do it properly.
But your prospect looks at the service and believes that if they can get their books done for a fraction of the cost in a fraction of the time…quality doesn’t matter.
Yes, it might be to their detriment if they get it wrong…but most are willing to run that risk to make it easier, faster and cheaper - even if it doesn't turn out to be that way.
Marketing and promoting that you offer great service is no longer good enough, you need to make it easy for your ideal clients to find you and engage with you, delivering quick and tangible results that matter. How can you improve your service level in terms of EASE?
What can you do to make life incredibly effortless for your ideal clients? how can you 'come to them' or deliver in a way that makes choosing you a no-brainer?
And if you are going to talk quality, make sure you outline the benefit to the client first, because after all it's all about the WIIFM for them - the What's In It For Me?
Worrying Trend #3 - Information Overload
Not that long ago, when your ideal prospect had a problem that you solve, they would come looking for you.
Now their first stop is to ask Aunty Google.
There are literally millions of links with videos and articles helping solve problems and they are all available for free at your fingertips.
Digital assistants like Siri, Echo and Alexa answer questions in a flash, you don't even need to touch a button. AI is speeding this up further by anticipating the problem and providing a solution almost before it happens.
Of course, not all the information is correct and much of the advice is wrong, but it’s readily available and answers trend #2 - convenience.
Abraham Lincoln once said “You can’t believe everything on the internet”, yet that’s where most of your market go for answers.
They no longer feel they need a service provider and even the pool guy is being told by his clients which chemicals and equipment to use because, “This is what I found on the internet about it”…
Your ideal client wants cheap, fast, good and given the trends, they are getting it, whether it’s right for them or not.
The power is definitely in the hands of your customer and you need to make sure that your online presence is SEO friendly, fast loading, accurate, uses lots of key search-words and terms and that you have blogs, vlogs and articles with helpful tips and trending topics with insight and answers they are looking for.
Personal Branding has always been about striking when the iron is hot, engaging and captivating an audience when your ideal clients have the problem that you solve, making sure they know, like and trust you to solve it for them.
If anything, getting the timing right has become even more important, along with being high visibility to stand out in a noisy and cluttered world, where there is unlimited and instantaneous choice.
The best way to overcome these worrying trends for professional service providers, it to have a stand out personal brand, focused on your area of expertise.
Expertise is doing something with ease that others find difficult. that's why it's called Expert-ease!
Once you have found your brand true north, focusing on the problem you solve, who you solve it for and when, how you uniquely provide a service and your area of expertise, you can paint a picture of the outcome in your marketing, and start communicating using the most powerful marketing tools - emotion.
Because people buy with emotion and justify with fact.
Share your passion and purpose, your reason why you do what you do, enabling your ideal prospect to align with you and trust you as the market leader.
Remember, your brand is like a compass, and as long as you stay on your true north, you will create a consistent message with your marketing and be seen and noticed as the respected professional that you are.