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Selling Candy, Part 2: Professional Services

In my last blog post, I wrote about how a recent 3 Musketeers ad campaign doesn’t sell candy bars. Instead, they sell human connection (and happen to use candy). Believe it or not, this approach is immediately applicable to professional services, not just consumer products. I’ve run into many examples over the years:

  1. An estate planning client recently changed the way she marketed her practice. Her services were complex wills, charitable trusts, elder law, and more. But she now says that because of her involvement, her clients can sleep at night. No one gets excited about preparing for death. But plenty of potential clients would gladly fork over thousands of dollars to stop worrying about end of life issues.

  2. A young bookkeeper that just started his own business explained to me that he isn’t selling arithmetic, spreadsheets, or even financial analysis. He gives his clients time, and does it through bookkeeping. Many small business owners are capable of handling the books. When money is tight, they’re not likely to pay for a service they can do themselves. But reframe your message as selling time instead of bookkeeping, and you’ve got some overworked entrepreneurs lining up to buy from you.

And finally, some examples from our own business. When people ask what we do, I tend to get caught up in the nerdy mechanics of strategic planning. But strategic planning and consulting retainers aren’t ultimately what we provide for our clients. I could go on about the intangibles, but my favorite services are enabling families to talk again, restoring health, and making dreams come true. Yeah, it’s a bit pretentious. But those are all actual specific examples of the real things we sell (candy bar not included). Think about your business and how you talk about your services. What do your clients truly seek? What should you really sell?


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