In case you haven’t heard, online marketing for professional services is quite the hot movement! According to our recent research, 66% of firms plan to increase their online marketing budget this year. Firms are using their website, content marketing and social media (just to name a few) to boost visibility and improve reputation online. Which, in turn, brings in new qualified leads without having to leave the office. Who wouldn’t want that!
Having been on both the client and agency side, I’ve heard my fair share of objections to online marketing. Here are just a few and some ammunition to strengthen your case in favor of online marketing.
1. “No one is searching online for professional services, so we don’t need to bother doing anything.”
What your firm might not want to recognize is that your clients and prospects ARE looking for professional services online! They’re going online to get educated about the services they are about to purchase. And by the time they have gone online, they are usually in the final stages of their decision making process.
What this means is that your firm needs to be visible online, creating quality content on a regular basis and engaging with your audience online in order to be found by your clients and prospects and generate new leads. Because trust me, if you’re not doing it, you better believe your competition is!
- Your website: make your website a repository of useful and educational information.
- Content: what are the pain points your clients and prospects are dealing with? Write to those and don’t make your materials too sales oriented. Make the content useful and shareable. Maintain an appropriate rhythm to keep your audience coming back for more.
- Search Engine Optimization: make your website and content work for you. Optimizing your website and content with relevant keywords will increase the likelihood that your audience will be able to find your firm online.
2. “Content marketing sounds like a great idea, but I don’t have the time or resources.”
True, online marketing, content marketing specifically, is not an easy or a quick task. It does take time and dedication to make it work like it should. My advice, take it one step at a time.
First, you’ll need a strategy. Consider these four points:
- You need to know who on your team is going to be an active participant.
- You need to identify what your main goals are.
- You need to know how you are going to measure your results.
- You need to be realistic in what you can truly accomplish.
Having your plan in writing will help establish accountability and keep things moving in the right direction.
When it comes to time, we have a solution to that as well. We like to call it, repurposing! It sounds like a simple concept, but you’d be surprised to know that most firms when starting to think about venturing into content marketing, think they need to create fresh content every week. So yes, that does sound daunting and overwhelming. I would probably throw in the towel as well. But with a well laid out strategy and by repurposing content, you will streamline your efforts and create a stronger online presence.
Here’s how you can repurpose one piece of content:
- Develop a piece of stock content, i.e. your guide.
- Condense the guide into three shorter digestible chunks and publish three separate blog posts.
- Host a webinar for your clients and prospects presenting information you gathered for your guide.
- Solidify a speaking engagement where your talk about the major themes from your guide.
One piece of content, four different ways to reuse it. Sounds achievable to me!
3. “There is no ROI. It’s impossible to track the impact online marketing has on our firm.”
Not true! You just need to have the right tools to track your effectiveness. If your firm plans to engage in online media, you’ll need to invest in a Client Relationship Management (CRM) system. Whether you’re using Salesforce, Sugar CRM, InfusionSoft or Marketo (to name a few); your CRM will house all of your contact information, marketing campaigns and will track all of your contacts’ online marketing activity.
Your CRM is able to track all of your online marketing conversions, be it joining your email list, downloading a white paper or registering for a webinar. You’ll want to set-up lead nurturing campaigns for your contacts so that over time, when your contacts are ready to buy, they turn to your firm first.
Any reputable CRM will also come with a plethora of reporting capabilities. Now there is no excuse for senior management to question the effectiveness of your online marketing efforts!
There’s no question that many firms are cautious about investing in online marketing. But through our recent research of 500 professional services firms, here are a few facts for your senior management to chew on:
- About 77% of professional services firms generate new business leads online.
- Firms that generate 40% of their leads online grow 4 times faster.
- High growth firms generate more leads online.
It’s not enough to ‘take a chance’ on online marketing. Make a plan, be patient and stick with it. Results won’t happen overnight, but they will come in time. For a comprehensive overview of online marketing for professional services download our brand new book.