5 Essential Steps to Marketing Professional Services
“Be where your customers are.” This is a timeless piece of advice that applies to all professional services firms, whether your business is insurance, banking, law or accounting services.
The procurement of professional services is often a lengthy and involved process. Prospective customers will thoroughly research the market, seeking out evidence of relevant skills, expertise and credibility. Firms need to provide evidence that they are thought-leaders, setting the benchmark in their field. The business that can prove that it is leading the way in its respective field is far more likely to be the victor in the battle for winning and retaining clients.
Marketing your professional services business needs to be thoroughly planned and thought out if it is to have any tangible impact. The five things every professional services firm must consider before formulating a marketing strategy are:
The business of providing professional services relies on trust. Prospective customers must trust and recognize your firm as an authority in its field – but this doesn’t come easy. Establishing authority is likely to be time-consuming and costly but it is essential to your marketing strategy. Once you have established your firm as a leading authority in your respective field, through continually reinforcing your expertise you will not only increase the likelihood of securing new clients, but also retain them for longer.
2. Build Trust Through Great Content
Expanding on the above idea of authority, customers will come to trust you as an authority figure if you create content and media that validate your claim of authority. Posting qualified research and data, disclosing “insider secrets” and offering free advice can help establish this trust and authority (as Wired editor, Chris Anderson asserts in his book, Free: The Future of a Radical Price). Think of free content as a lure which affirms your status as the leading figure in your field and draws in customers.
To effectively market your professional services firm, you need to create an ongoing conversation with your prospects and customers. This means consistent efforts at creating content and maintaining contact. Content should to be posted on at least a weekly basis, which not only reaffirms your position as a leading authority figure, but also gives prospects and customers an opportunity to engage and seek out your services when in need.
The days of maintaining a single, static website are long over. Today, marketing a professional services firm requires maintaining a presence on multiple platforms, creating content and engaging in conversations. This includes not just online platforms such as your blog, Twitter feed, Facebook and LinkedIn channels, but also offline avenues such as sector-specific seminars, conferences, trade publications and PR.
5. Personas and Branding
Branding and persona creation isn’t limited to consumer products. In today’s multi-channel marketing landscape, professional service firms too need to create a recognizable brand with an appropriate persona to inspire, attract and motivate prospects and customers. This includes adopting a suitable tone of voice throughout your marketing activity, creating content that echoes your brand position (thoughtful, avuncular, pioneering etc.), and ensuring that visually your marketing collateral reflects your ethos.
The challenges for professional services firms to rise above the “noise” of their competitors have never been greater. There is a quiet revolution turning the traditional marketplace on its head. In the face of such disruption, the diktat to professional services should be clear: evolve and adapt, or risk your demise.