ICR News: March 2015 Meeting Highlights

Strategies and Techniques for Communicating Your Value to Clients

by Theresa Hayes

power meeting from above

We all want people to think highly of us. We’re only human, of course. But when the time comes to prove our worth to another, it can be difficult. For some, talking about how good we are is a piece of cake. But for most, it can be a struggle to find the right way to articulate our value and to feel comfortable doing so. It’s times like these that make the San Francisco IABC Independent Communicators’ Roundtable meetings so treasured. Each month, the facilitators choose a topic based on the needs of the participants. This month the topic was discovering strategies and techniques for communicating one’s value to clients. Two of our knights, Christine Sculati and Pete Resler, led the roundtable discussion by sharing their personal experiences and strategies for communicating their value proposition. They then opened the table up for a group discussion.

Why is your value proposition so important?

Well, at the bottom line, it’s what’s going to pay your bills. When you’re able to articulate your value clearly, your prospective client will understand what you bring to the table and why they should hire you. In order to get your foot in the door with a new client, it’s important to have your general value proposition well thought through, and to be able to succinctly state it. Then, you can tailor it to highlight the skills and experience you bring to meet your client’s specific needs.

How do you determine your value?

First, target your customer base. Figure out their needs and what issues they grapple with. Next, convey how your services will help meet those needs. What are you good at? Determine what is it that you do that meets your customers’ needs, and will help you stand out. Show the client your ability to solve problems and how you’re unique.

The follow through

Even if you believe you can tell if your client is happy or not, it can be extremely beneficial to ask them how they feel about your work. Perhaps have a meeting to ask them questions about your performance, and, if appropriate, ask them to provide you with a testimonial. This can really help you pinpoint your value. You may learn about aspects of your work that clients think are fantastic, but you would not have thought to include them in your value proposition. And, maybe there’s something that you think you do really well, but they don’t even mention or feel you could do better. Instead of beating yourself up, see this as an opportunity to work on this area. This will make you even more valuable and confident in the future.

Bring an outside perspective

It’s okay to say, “I bring an outside perspective.” Sometimes a client may be hesitant to hire you because you’re an “outsider.” They might think you don’t understand their needs. However, often an outside perspective is just what they need to get things working properly on the inside. Highlight this as a strength.

Be the right consultant right now

Ask yourself, “What are the trends affecting consulting and communications services?” Maybe it’s that corporations are downsizing and the need for independents is rising. They’re moving away from doing things internally. Maybe people simply want advice. Perhaps it’s the latest trends in social media. Whatever it is, stay current and figure it out. Once you do this and incorporate your ability to address current trends into your value proposition, you’ll be ahead of the game.

How do you communicate your success in your value proposition?

Have you been in the game for a while? Do you have clients that always return for more? Do you have a track record of positive feedback on your work? Then you’re valuable! There’s value in longevity, reliability, and trust. Keep track of those things, note when you get positive feedback, and continue to develop the skills that keep clients wanting more. Put an emphasis on marketing, professional development, and the areas where you bring value. Monitor how well you’re doing in these aspects of your business, and incorporate this into your value proposition. This will make you a very attractive communicator and a trusted advisor.

Adapting your value proposition

Become nimble. In addition to researching the client organization, research the people you want to work with. See what connections you might already have with them and/or their organization. When you show your prospects that you have connecting points, they’re more likely to imagine working well with you.

Be authentic

Above all, it’s most important to be authentic. Bring your true self to the table. Be natural and open. Show that you’re confident, while listening closely to the client’s needs. When you engage in a conversation, detach yourself from the outcome, because at the end of the day, your value is, well, you.

Suggested reading:

v       The Trusted Advisor, by David H. Maister

v       How to Become a Rainmaker: The Rules for Getting and Keeping Customers and Clients, by Jeffrey Fox

About Christine and Pete

Christine is an independent consultant who works largely in grant writing and development with nonprofits and organizations focused on positive social change. Pete recently launched his own business after years in the corporate sector. A columnist, editor, and an award-winning reporter, Pete helps organizations administer change. For more information:

Christine’s website: http://www.christinesculati.com

Pete’s website: http://www.eaglepeakcommunications.com

Theresa Hayes is a recent UC Berkeley graduate in rhetoric and a new member of IABC and SF IABC’s Independent Communicators’ Roundtable, which meets on the third Wednesday of each month, alternately in Oakland at mid-day and in San Francisco at the end of the day.

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