Information overload. Multiple decision makers. Servicing diverse industries. Industry or governmental regulations. Omnipresent thought leaders and experts.
These are just a few challenges that professional services marketers encounter. Mainly because professional service organizations aren’t selling a “product,” but a relationship – and that requires close communication and engagement, both within and outside the organization.
As a professional services marketer, it’s easy to get daunted by the task ahead of you. If you’re just getting started, this 5-Step Guide could exactly be what you’re looking for. Or if you’re thinking about streamlining your marketing process and setting it up for success, read on. We’ve broken down the essential elements that every professional services marketer needs to address for their organization, along with a few tips we know you’ll appreciate.
Identify your Niche
This is the SaaS industry equivalent of product-market fit. We can’t really overstate how important this is. Rather than trying to be a one-size-fits-all service, it’s often far more beneficial for you to zero in on a specialization and own it completely.
Finding your niche market makes all your marketing efforts easier, right from helping define your potential client base, your messaging to establishing yourself as an authority within that niche. This is easier said than done, but all the time and effort spent on this will never go to waste. It might even end up being the key difference between long term sustainability and a fly by night operator.
For a marketer, this essentially translates to “What is your positioning?”
Sell your Benefits not your Services
Very few professional services organizations truly do this. Most of them are caught up talking about their services and less about their benefits, that they tend to overlook their purpose – the client.
Professionals service organizations exist to serve their clients. So shape your service and your brand around your clients. Think about what they want, the issues that affect them and what they gain from your service. Once your brand is built around the client, your intent will be clear, your message will be direct and resonate definitively across your target segments.
It’s a simple shift in mindset that has been proven to influence the audience, and convert them, from mere impressions to tangible customers.
Design a Lead Generating Website
A website carries your identity and purpose to an ever-expanding digital audience. But it can do more.
Carefully crafted and optimized for conversion, a lead-generating website can become the epicenter of your digital marketing efforts. Relevant, engaging content designed and served appropriately to the right audience can convert your passive visitors into concrete leads, taking them on an integrated experiential journey of your brand.
It is in your best interest to ensure a coherent, responsive and seamless user experience across your website to ensure repeat visitors.
Devise a successful SEO Strategy
Search Engine Optimization (SEO), going hand-in-hand with your website, is a thoughtful strategy involving a variety of techniques designed to ensure your content gets in front of the right audience.
What makes the whole strategy powerful, is your unapologetically original, valuable content. There are no shortcuts to this. Developing genuine and well-written content on a regular basis is the only way. Your content strategy also informs how you structure and index your website, how you use appropriate keywords to signal relevant pages.
As you can see, SEO is not a one-time effort. It is an ongoing strategy to create quality content that is easily searchable by your audience.
Craft regular, sustained Content
Content in any form is a great way to project your organization’s particular expertise, distinct thought process and problem solving acumen. Written content, in particular, has a wider consumption range and allows for more flexible distribution.
Authentic, original content builds credibility by demonstrating your qualifications as an expert. It is also an attractive way to draw traffic to your website. Even Google’s algorithm changes support a shift towards branding. You can also invite guest bloggers to write for your site or collaborate with your experts on engaging content, which multiplies the outcome of your marketing efforts.
Leverage Linkedin, Linkedin and more Linkedin
LinkedIn is the dominant social network if you’re looking for a source of active, influential professional contacts. Not just to connect and network with, but also leverage its potential as a content distribution channel. Even amidst other helpful channels like Twitter, according to LinkedIn’s Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide, 94% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn effectively for content distribution.
This large scale adoption is not purely for organic content. From text and video ads to sponsored InMail, LinkedIn as a platform has shaped up to be quite versatile, teeming with a diverse range of advertising opportunities. The impressive targeting and analytics offered are also why it is the go-to channel for B2B marketers.
Focus on Employer Brand and Culture
As a professional services organization, your most valuable asset is your people. And happy employees make for happy clients. As important as it is to generate demand and new business opportunities, we’d argue that it is equally critical to be able to attract and retain the right talent to help you deliver on the expectations you’ve set with your clients. Edelman’s 2020 report says that a staggering 71% of consumers lose trust in a brand that is perceived to put profit over its people.
Employer Branding is the key to manage that perception, by improving your organization’s ability to compete for the talent you need. Although, it’d come as a shock to know that 86% of the most qualified candidates for your open positions are already employed, but would consider changing jobs if offered a role with a company with an excellent corporate reputation.
Research also shows that it is a strong brand and purpose-driven culture that all prospective employees seek. And the strength of your employer brand lies not in what you say your organization is, but what your employees experience within. Hence building a culture that empowers people to thrive and become the best version of themselves is absolutely essential.
Don’t underestimate the power of word of mouth and the impact your employees can have on your brand and in turn, your demand generation efforts.
Build visible Thought Leaders
Subject matter experts make professional services organizations. Their expertise forms the basis of your consulting services. But how many organizations actually have recognizable experts, even though they’re thought leaders in their respective fields? Not many organizations understand that building individual reputations ultimately garner the results in overall organizational growth.
Building a thought leader’s profile is perhaps one of the most, if not the most critical activity in your marketing mix. There are many proven strategies you can try out, beginning with providing a platform for your experts to present their thought leadership. This is also a great opportunity for them to connect with, share, educate and learn from their audiences – and to build credibility.
Start small with blogs, podcasts, interviews; and gradually expand to webinars, expert chats, AMA (Ask Me Anything) sessions, in-person events or even books. Speaking engagements are a great way to meet highly-targeted audiences. Just think about all the content you end up creating and the lead generation opportunities these activities present you with! We say it’s nothing short of a marketer’s dream.
There are absolutely other elements in a professional services organization and many more that a professional services marketer is tasked with to amplify. But a thoughtful approach and creative implementation of the ones highlighted in this article can take you one step closer to reaching the right audiences in this crowded digital world.
Would you like to discuss any of these aspects in more detail? Get in touch with us.