Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Marketing and Selling to Professionals

Doctors, dentists, accountants and CEOs are people too. Even lawyers, despite all the jokes. The same is true for the remaining groups that are referred to as professionals. All are people too. If you look at what they do during their non working time, you will find that their interests are pretty “normal”. Family, activities, sports, cars, investments, travel and searching for the right purchases. While they generally have a higher education and possibly intellect than the average, the personal interests are not unusual.

So what? What does this mean to you?

It means that they will respond to marketing and sales messages very much the same as the rest of the population. It used to be thought that in order to communicate with professionals most effectively, one needed only the intellectual presentation of facts, since they were smart enough to draw their own conclusions. Clearly, that isn’t selling and really isn’t even communicating. Thankfully, we have gotten smarter.

Our experience with marketing and selling to professionals over the past thirty plus years, offers some insights. I’ll comment on two here.

The first is “What’s in it for me – the professional?”

In communicating with professionals, we often focus on what’s in it for their patients or clients. We forget the personal aspect and don’t answer the question of what’s in it for me - the professional. I have written about this several times before regarding customers or consumers. The same idea is true for professionals. Doctors not only want their patients cured they also want some peace of mind and less complexity. They have so many new pharmaceuticals and treatments on which to be current and so many other pressures. How can you and your product or service help them out? Dentists have an amazing array of mechanical products with new upgrades coming out all the time. How can they stay current, not buy the wrong materials and not go bankrupt? CEO’s, executives and lawyers have multiple opportunities every day to be distracted and actually add to their burdens, instead of giving them peace of mind. How can your product or service make their life a little better and even give them some joy.

The key here is to put yourself in the shoes of the professional and understand not only their medical or business needs, but also their personal and emotional needs. What would you want? Simple research can add to your analysis and conclusions. I have seen doctors and dentists stand in line at medical conventions for long periods to try their hand at miniature golf for a prize or to get a free take home gift for their kids. Could they do that on their own? Yes! But this was “free”. It gave them that little joy. During their wait there were many opportunities for selling/

The second is “How do you get them to take action?”

Create a simple trigger that makes them think about your product and what it can do for them when they see or hear the trigger. In the dental business at Procter & Gamble, we were marketing a product for mild to moderate gingivitis. Few dentists knew what was mild to moderate, so we created a trigger. If the patient saw bleeding gums when brushing or flossing, they needed our product. It worked and sales skyrocketed. For doctors, in treating patients with Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs), a burning sensation when urinating is a trigger. It means prescribe a certain pharmaceutical and there is no need generally for complicated and time consuming testing. For CEO’s and executives, fighting fires every day is a trigger that all is not running smoothly. There are some simple solutions that can be used to stop the fire fighting.

Professionals are people too. We have had experience over multiple years in communicating successfully with professionals in many different industries. We have found that the principles for communicating effectively with dentists, doctors, lawyers CEOs and other professionals are the same. The execution may be different but the principles are the same.

We suggest these two ideas as a start. There clearly are many more. Contact us and we can help you understand your professionals and find the right triggers for your market as well.


John Maver
Maver Management Group
(925) 648-7561
Maver Management

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