In IP, most client-provider relationships are enduring and stable. This is not a hook-up culture: clients who are content with their professional advisors do not shop around.
In addition, the few real prospects – the new clients who do not have an incumbent provider and the few disgruntled clients looking to change provider – only remain prospects for a short period of time. Once they find a good provider, they stop looking at others.
Put another way, ‘the window of consideration’ is only open for most prospects occasionally and for a brief period of time. After ‘the moment of selection’ the window closes, often for a long time.
IP marketing therefore must focus on ‘awareness by the real prospects during their window of consideration’. This is the central challenge of IP marketing: making sure that the right prospects are aware of you during the very brief period when they are looking at various providers.
This process for selecting an IP provider is entirely driven by the client:
- The client chooses when to open the window of consideration;
- The client chooses which providers to consider; and,
- The client selects their IP provider.
Most IP mandates are granted without any formal procurement process. This is not a world dominated by Requests-for-Proposals, and even when RFPs are used, most of the time the client pre-selects the people who are invited to respond. Similarly, because mandates are generally indefinite until terminated, it is impossible to know which clients served by your competitors might be considering changing providers. Often, you do not even know if you are being considered by a prospect – and unless you win the mandate, you may never know that you were considered. Frequently the first you hear of a mandate is when you are contacted by the client, who has already selected you.
Awareness & Selection
To make your marketing work, you need to focus on awareness and selection.
Awareness: How do you ensure that prospects are aware of you when it comes time for them to look for an IP provider?
Selection: how do you help prospects evaluate and choose you even if you never even know that you are being considered by them?
In the next few posts, I will provide some specific ideas about improving your marketing on both of these issues.