Unless the Mayan calendar predictions come true, most of us in professional services will still be writing and tweaking our marketing plans for 2013 in the early weeks of the New Year. The beauty of a new year is that the slate is once again clean and optimism prevails. For many, the questions still remain, where to start? Here’s my take on top 10 for better professional services marketing.
10. Research – when was the last time you surveyed your clients, prospects and got-aways on their perception, relevancy and regarding your firm? External audiences have a very different perception of what your firm does well. You need to capitalize on those insights – don’t just “guess” as to what you think is of value, research and then use that research to help craft your messaging and build your brand!
9. Brand – Your professional services firm has a brand – whether you’ve done anything to influence or not, it does. A strong brand does have value, it can help you win new clients, command premium fees and attract and retain the very best talent. Consider the benefits a rebranding can bring to your firm.
8. Website – There is no benefit associated with minimizing the value of a website for professional services firms. Your clients and prospects ARE looking for professional services online! They’re going online to get educated about issues they are dealing with and the possible services available for procurement.
7. Analytics – do you have a handle on the type of traffic that comes to your website? Do visitors come to you because they entered your company name? Or, do they come to you through a search result? What pages get the most traffic and which don’t? Understanding your website analytics will provide you tremendous insights into what is important to your target audiences. According to our recent research, 66% of firms plan to increase their online marketing budget this year.
6. Contacts – do you have a clean contact list of clients, prospects, influencers or got-aways? If you don’t, then your firm does not have the currency needed for today’s effective business development conversations.
5. Traditional – Not everything is online. Leverage those offline tactics that position you as the expert – speaking engagements, trade presentations and targeted referral meetings over coffee!
4. CRM — Professional service marketers planning their future marketing have new tools that can help expand their territory and reach audiences in distant markets. A CRM (client relationship management) system can help you gain insights into the actions your website visitors are taking on your website. Marketers have to become marketing technologists in order to be able to nurture prospects.
3. Content – The expectation by buyers of professional services is to rely on the web to gather information on expertise, previous experiences and leading providers. It’s not about having PDFs of sales brochures on your website, its about continually demonstrating knowledge and value through your content – whether it’s blogging, webinars, white papers, etc. To be competitive in today’s marketplace, firms need to pay it forward with valuable insights; the best tool for nurturing prospects. Need an example, just check out our very own content library.
2. Lead Nurturing – Some prospect will be coming to your website searching for information about your service offering – these are early stage leads. Others have already gathered information and are looking to make a buying decision – these are the late stage leads. Your website and its content need to cater to both, if you want to have a conversation with prospects today.
1. Transparency – In the age of web 3.0 with social media and around the clock information channels, it’s important to be transparent. Professional services are built on the skills and expertise of their staff. When staff goes home, they don’t go dark. They continue to interact online and offline. Provide your professionals with guidelines for online interactions, help them become Visible Experts and then let them be your advocate. Firms and professionals have to “walk the talk” because if they don’t, inevitable it will be discovered. It’s the natural and transparent interactions, not the heavy sales tactics that at the end will best nurture.
These “Top 10” are not sequenced by order of importance, nor effectiveness. They are all essential in today’s professional services marketing. And, while astronomical enthusiasts may be anticipating a galactic alignment later this month, for most of us the best we can hope for is an alignment between marketing and a steady flow new leads! Happy New Year and happy planning!