Real perceptions

Feb 18, 2019

Your clients have definite ideas about what your firm is and isn’t, but if you don’t take the time to ask, you’ll never know what they’re thinking.

Perception is reality. Do you know how clients perceive your firm? Knowing what the perception of your firm is helps build your business and increases your profits. It gives you insights that help your firm be more focused and intentional. Asking questions about the experience clients have had with your firm and your differentiating factors directs your marketing message.

Knowing what your clients think about the work you perform, the people they work with on projects, and their opinion to hire you again, or give you referrals, is important data. Most firms never ask, or just assume. There is no reason not to ask, because many times clients are happy to talk about the experience they have had with your firm. They are impressed that you would even ask and that your firm would make the investment. I’m not talking about sending out an email survey, either. The types of surveys conducted are completed face-to-face or over the phone, so additional questions or details can be collected or deciphered. It allows your client to share their story.

Gathering this data from a wide array of clients across industries and geographic areas gives you a good cross section of data. It confirms or denies your strengths and weaknesses, and reveals the areas of your business that you need to focus on. If multiple clients share their positive experience about your programming or process and how it’s different than that of your competitors, then we’ve just discovered a differentiating factor that we can use in marketing messages. If one client complains about the technical staff and all the other comments were positive, then you know that’s an anomaly in the survey. Regardless of industry or geography, the collected data is useful in forming a conclusion about your firm.

Once the surveys are completed, you can see the consistencies or inconsistencies in marketing, administration, and operations within your firm. It allows you to confirm assumptions or discover new ones in order to focus on the client and improve inefficiencies. If you thought your close-out process was spectacular, but then discovered through these surveys it was lacking, then you can focus on improving your close-out process. When clients see you have implemented changes they have recommended, they know you truly care about them and their business. They trust you and know you are listening to them. Because you have built this relationship and trust with your client, you can charge a higher fee and don’t have to spend as much money acquiring new clients. There is value in what you deliver to them. You are taking care of existing clients and building those existing relationships. (It’s seven times more expensive to acquire new clients than retain existing clients!) Clients want to know that you care about their firm and their project. Conducting these surveys gives you another reason to build that relationship and show them you care.

Whatever your clients’ perceptions are of your firm is the reality. Confirming what that perception is can put you ahead of your competition and allows you to be more focused with your marketing spend. Making the investment in this research makes you focus on the things your clients care about most. Knowing your clients’ perception increases your profits and builds those relationships.

If you want to know more about brand perception surveys and how they can benefit your firm, I’d love to talk to you.

Lindsay Young is president and founder of nu marketing. She can be reached at

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About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.