When you’re a business working in professional services, it’s likely that visibility is high up on your agenda. How do you move past the hustle and bustle of your industry to put yourself before your target audience? In other words, how do you cut through the noise?
Marketing for the professional service firm includes a lot more than visibility, of course. It’s finding your niche, ensuring your content is optimised and using the right channels to speak with your audience. It’s building your audience, too.
There is a lot to it, but it really doesn’t have to be so complicated.
Here are 10 important aspects of professional services marketing.
#1. Find Your Niche
Instead of trying to be a one-size-fits-all service, it’s far more beneficial for you to hone in on a particular area and own it completely. That way, you minimise the chance of competitors overtaking you whilst ensuring there are customers out there interested in your service.
By finding your niche market, you can easier identify potential clients and partners to work with, not to mention the fact that you’ll present yourself as an authority in your niche.
It’s likely that, through niche marketing, you will also receive more referrals and testimonials. As you build trust and credibility for your business within the industry, your visibility will grow to the point where your firm can no longer be overlooked. Your testimonials section will speak volumes!
A final thought: do all this within reason. Before setting out to find your niche, you’ll want to ensure this is a journey worth setting out on: are there customers out there to whom you can sell? Is there a real pain point you can address?
Once these questions are answered, you can capture your niche and proceed to generate leads from atop your vantage point.
#2. Be Client-Centric, not Service-Centric
Many companies fall short of the hurdle simply through flawed thinking. This means how an organisation conducts their firm as both a service provider and brand - each as important as the other.
If you shape your service around the client, you’re halfway there. Think about what the client wants; what issues affect them on a day-to-day basis? How are they currently dealing with these issues?
Once your brand is built around the client, you will speak from the right place. Your message will be direct and communicate itself clearly to your audience. It will be subtly crafted and will resonate across numerous target groups.
Most importantly, it will communicate the complete value of what you provide and how you intend to carry that out.
A few examples; a client-centric organisation will focus their efforts based on customer feedback, it will understand the client intimately and spread that learning across the organisation.
Client centricity is important for the following reasons:
Information from the client influences your approach to customer behaviour, habits and engagement
From this information, you can create new products and services for your audience. In turn, you receive insights on who your top spending clients are, making them launch pads for future persona mapping
#3. Don’t Forget About SEO
Think of SEO as the fertiliser for your business’ growth and maturation. If you want to increase the fertility of your website - to ensure it produces healthy leads and a hearty ROI - you have to give it the right nutrients.
Here are the nutrients of SEO:
- Thorough keyword research
- Optimised content
- Compelling metadata
- Great user experience.
That’s not all, though - there is so much that falls under the SEO umbrella. You can take a look here for more.
With robust SEO behind you, your firm will be able to keep an eye on the competition and devise strategies aimed at overtaking them. You will benefit from increased credibility and be put in front of your ideal audience.
#4. Attend Trade Shows
Talking of increased credibility, being out on the road will be a great help in boosting your firm’s profile. It’s all about community, see, and being a part of it is one of the most traditional forms of marketing that exists.
In fact, it’s perhaps better termed as self-marketing. Businessmen have been going to conferences since we can remember, and it’s easy to see why. Whether it’s a conference, trade show or a business gathering within a community, you are there representing your firm and as such it pays to be seen.
What’s more, if you’re giving a speech or getting involved in a debate you are sure to get noticed. This is great for smaller firms who are yet to establish themselves in their industry.
#5. LinkedIn Networking
LinkedIn is no longer a place for us to look for jobs or update our CVs. For years now, brands have been creating content specifically for the social platform, and have been experiencing great benefits.
Firstly, through LinkedIn you can engage your audience and expand your reach, using shareable content that relates to the audience in mind. This content may take various forms, from blog posts and infographics to white papers and SlideShare presentations.
To really engage your audience and reach that viral scale, you have to think about what really gets people going. What kind of things are universally recognisable?
You can also use LinkedIn to differentiate yourself from your competitors. You can big your company up for making some exciting new hires or communicate your mission statement to the audience in order to build stronger relationships.
The possibilities really are endless, and with 94% of B2B marketers using LinkedIn to distribute content, you don’t want to be left behind.
#6. Make Video Content
Another statistic: it is predicted that global internet traffic from videos will make up 80% of all internet traffic by 2019.
That’s the majority of internet traffic. Shelving the ‘what about written content’ debate for another time, the importance of video content cannot be overstated.
Video content is simply more persuasive than the written word. Its reach is gargantuan, and as YouTube receives over one billion visitors per month you can’t help but think that companies that do not include video content into their marketing do so at their peril.
It has also gotten far cheaper to make and produce video content. You no longer need to smash your budget for high-tech camera equipment, and your trusted smartphone is more than capable of editing.
#7. Embrace Company Culture (And Give it a Face!)
Whether or not it’s entirely to your taste to employ a ‘Chief Happiness Officer’, it’s important for your firm to have a happy, inclusive workplace setting wherein employees can work productively.
Here are some company culture statistics:
38% of professionals are most inspired in an environment where it’s easy to work effectively with others.
According to an Indeed survey, the highest-ranking factors in worldwide job satisfaction are as follows: work-life balance, management and company culture.
Millennials, in fact, are a consideration unto themselves. One survey revealed the following traits they seek from an employer:
- Treat employees fairly (73.1%)
- Corporate social responsibility (46.6%)
- Brand image (39.5%)
- Prestige (30.5%)
With a positive company culture, you prioritise the well-being and happiness of employees to ensure greater productivity - 12% greater, in fact.
You carry your firm like an over-the-counter brand, in many ways. What are the things you stand for? Corporate social responsibility has become a buzzword of late, and it undoubtedly helps a company stand out.
There are several ways you can do this: have your mission statement emblazoned across your website for example, or provide a few employee perks that your competitors do not.
Your employees will thank you for that one!
#8. Make Your Website a Lead Generation Machine with Great UX (don’t ‘set and forget’)
Your website is your go-to, 24hr salesperson and as such, needs to be better, stronger and faster. It also needs to be responsive - that is, seamlessly usable on both desktop and mobile platforms. Here are two statistics to drive the message home, each relevant to mobile and desktop users.
Here are two statistics to drive the home the importance of responsive web design, each relevant to both mobile and desktop users.
- 52% of customers are less likely to engage with the company because of bad mobile experience
- 40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load
This isn’t a case of impatient customers. It's in your best interest to provide a quick, seamless user experience between Desktop and Mobile/Tablet versions of your website: it will ensure that customers return. Our Growth-Driven Design resources tell you all you need to know about the importance of responsive web design.
Having a website that runs at optimum speeds is one of your best chances of healthy lead generation. Your clients not only deserve a high-quality service, everything that leads up to that point should also be the best it possibly can.
#9. Think About the Customer Journey
When you’re working in professional services, your audience is varied and reaches far. Across numerous job titles, groups and other demographics, you are almost spoilt for choice.
With this in mind, it's good practice to try and hone in on the particulars. This is where the customer journey comes in. What the customer journey does, in terms of content, is whittle down the strategies you should take to the specific phases of the journey.
For example, the Awareness stage requires some on-the-surface content to help build awareness of your firm. You’re thinking blog posts, whitepapers, eBooks and maybe a how-to video1. Informative, instructional and in-depth.
Next, at the Consideration stage, you'll need more data-led content. You can write case studies, data sheets and FAQs. Here, you build the authority and credibility to persuade the lead to consider your firm.
Finally, we arrive at the Decision stage. The content you create here will drive the message home with a free trial perhaps, or a consultation. It’s the last stage before purchase, so it’s important that the content should give users a sample of your service offering.
The customer journey is great for informing your marketing approach. You can consult it to check your firm is on the right track, in terms of audience and content.
#10. Sell Your Benefits
This has been a tip for numerous marketers and advertisers, and it's relevant here. In terms of what you communicate, don’t simply list the things you offer. Explain how your audience will benefit. What can they gain from your service?
We’ve seen far too many firms fall afoul of this, while they focus too heavily on products and services. Instead, you can state your products and services at the same time you state their benefits.
It’s a simple mind-shift that has been proven to persuade visitors and has been a long-term staple for copywriters everywhere.
When you’re marketing the professional services firm, keep the following in mind.
- Find your niche
- Be client-centric, not service-centric
- Don’t forget about SEO
- Attend trade shows
- LinkedIn networking
- Make video content
- Embrace company culture
- Make your website a lead gen machine
- Think about the customer journey
- Sell your benefits
The above tips are a mix of high-effort and low-effort solutions - together, they form the foundations for successful professional services marketing.
1 - Please know that the content forms listed here aren't exclusive or restricted to this stage alone. It's always wise to blog targeting Consideration and Decision stage buyers as well. We're only highlighting content that works particularly well at that stage.