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- Combatting Skepticism -

Prospective clients are skeptical about you, your services and the results you say you produce. What can you do to combat this skepticism?


People are more skeptical than ever.

They are skeptical about the government, business, professional sports, medicine, entertainment, media, religion and technology (to name just a few institutions that impact our lives daily).

In the middle of all of that skepticism you attempt to market your services - you try to tell the world (or those in your market niche) how wonderful you are and what a difference you can make.

The truth is that most of your marketing falls on deaf ears - even when it's good. But when you make major marketing mistakes, the skepticism rises and the results can be abysmal. What are the marketing mistakes you're making that are increasing the skepticism of your potential clients?

Here's a handful:

It's unclear what you do or offer

When you tell someone what you do, you want one kind of response. I call it a "That's for me response." In other words, your listener gets it right away and wants to know more. The best way to a get a "That's for me response" is to speak the language of results. You can do this verbally or in writing, but in both cases you need to telegraph your ultimate outcome or value proposition. If you don't tell people what they'll get from working with you, they'll assume you don't have what they need.

Your web site is poorly designed

I read an interesting article recently that reported the reaction time to a web site. The reaction time is a whopping 1/10th of a second! If the design is bad, if the balance is off, if the colors are dull, that 1/10th of a second impression is negative. And it's hard to recover from that. The chances are good that your web site is hurting you more than helping you. The only remedy is a professional, attractive design (not a homemade job).

Your web site doesn't build credibility

Even if your design is good and the immediate impression is favorable, it can go downhill fast from there. People browse the web looking for immediate answers to their questions. They want free information; they want to know what you do and who you serve and how your services work. In the first 30 seconds of visiting a web site, most visitors give up because they are not getting what they want. So they go away and never come back.

You are poor at follow-up

If you've gotten past the hurdles of initial visual impression and have given reasons to learn more, your prospect might actually respond - with a phone call or an email. And all you have to do is follow-up in a timely manner. Sounds simple, but it's not. I've struggled with this as I'm sure you have; a huge amount of business falls between the cracks just because we were lax in our follow-up. Improving this area can give you a big competitive advantage. Most ignore it completely.

Your sales process is incompetent

Now you have a prospect on the phone. They've read your site, they liked what they saw and you were on top of the follow-up after they responded. The sale should be easy from here, right? Well, not necessarily. Most independent professionals have no sales process whatsoever. They take on the demeanor of an order taker, or worse, a heavy persuader. Neither approach works. You need to have questions prepared, benefit points outlined, and an understanding of exactly when to listen and when to ask for action. When a prospect says, "I'll think about it," they really mean, "You blew it."

Be honest. Would you buy from YOU with the marketing and sales approaches you're using now? Or would your skepticism get triggered? When the message is unclear, the design pedestrian, the information sketchy, the follow-up lackadaisical and the selling nonexistent, don't you think you, as a prospect, just might back off and look elsewhere?

Now, this might sound depressing to you but there's actually some very good news buried in here! If you understand that every impression you make on your prospective clients will either draw them towards you or push them away, you have the opportunity to make some changes that could transform your marketing completely.

Use this three-step action plan:

1. Do a brutally honest assessment of the impact your marketing is making on your prospective clients. Look at the five elements I've outlined above. But don't stop there. Examine every single impression you make on a prospect and score yourself from poor to excellent on each one.

2. Get some resources that will help you. Really learn what works and what doesn't and then start making changes. These two resources from Action Plan Marketing are a good start:

The InfoGuru Marketing Manual

The Web Site ToolKit

3. Pick one area at a time and make a commitment to improve that impression. You might have a long list, but you have to start somewhere. Before too long you'll have dramatically improved the marketing impressions you're making and your skepticism quotient will go down. You'll be on the way to marketing success.


The More Clients Bottom Line: Too often we think of marketing as manipulative tricks to get prospects to notice us and respond to us. The truth is, marketing is a process of presenting real value in an attractive, competent and compelling manner. In other words: This is something you can do!

What things have you changed about your marketing impression that have transformed your marketing results? Please share them on the More Clients Blog at:

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Until next week, all the best,

Robert Middleton

Helping Independent Professionals Attract More Clients

210 Riverside Drive
Boulder Creek, CA 95006

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© 2006 Robert Middleton, All rights reserved. You are free to use material from the More Clients eZine in whole or in part, as long as you include complete attribution, including live web site link. Please also notify me where the material will appear. The attribution should read:

"By Robert Middleton of Action Plan Marketing. Please visit Robert's web site at for additional marketing articles and resources on marketing for professional service businesses."