#1 Challenge for Professional Services Businesses
Whether you're a lawyer, accountant, engineer, architect, advisor or consultant, chances are that you are concerned about attracting new business. In fact, a recent study by the Hinge Research Institute found that 72% of professional services businesses say it's their number one challenge.
Attracting and developing new business is why we need marketing. Marketing exists to generate qualified leads, which can be passed on to the sales team to close, resulting in new business. Simple, right?
Well, not exactly. With the growth of the internet, marketing is now responsible for 60-80% of the sales cycle. Yes, 60-80%. That's how much time our prospects spend researching their options before they ever contact a salesperson.
Our challenge as marketers is figuring out what we can do to ensure our prospects find us when they're researching their problem.
"In the olden days" (as my digital native kids would say), marketers would throw a lot of stuff out there via direct mail, radio, newspaper ads, magazine ads, etc to see what sticks. But as we all know, most of us block that stuff out in today's world. We 'consume marketing' on our terms, when we need it.
So the question remains, what can we do to make sure our prospects find us when they're looking for our product or service?
We've identified 9 things you can do for marketing professional services, so that your prospects find you when they need you.
In the marketing world, we call these Buyer Personas and most professional services companies have more than one.
A buyer persona describes in detail who your prospective customer is, what their challenges are, what their opportunities are, how they think, how they buy, their age group, etc, so that you can be as helpful as possible in educating them on potential solutions.
A deep understanding of your buyer personas also tells you where your prospects hang out online, so you know that's where you need to be too.
In order to make sure we're found, we need to be speaking to the right audience in the right place.
A marketing strategy detailing your overall goals, is essential before you can determine the best tactics to achieve those goals. Integrating your campaigns (email, social media, video, etc) together, significantly increases your chances of success.
As an example, if your marketing plan includes exhibiting at trade shows, you would want to integrate that with some other tactics, such as social media and email campaigns. Having an omnichannel approach helps to increase your traffic at the show and stay connected with people whom you met afterwards.
In our digital world, we all need to think like a publishing company. Your website is effectively a digital magazine, there to educate, inform and help visitors, leads and clients. But how many times would you go back to read the same issue of a magazine? Maybe once. But probably never, right?
Our websites need to be dynamic. They should be a library of our company's digital assets - blog posts, eBooks, podcasts, videos, whitepapers, etc. All valuable information that is much more useful if shared with our prospects and customers. Not only will it get you found by the people who are looking for your services, but it'll keep them coming back.
Did you know that 94% of B2B buyers (and more than 85% of B2C buyers) research their options online before purchasing. They check websites, reviews, blogs and social media.
Writing blog posts is an excellent way for your team to show the depth of their knowledge. And creating case studies showcases the amazing work you've done, especially if you are solving challenges that many of your prospects might be experiencing.
The only control a business has over what prospective buyers see online is to proactively publish as much helpful information as possible.
Can you imagine a lumber company that didn't have access to any trucks or trains to deliver its product? How many customers would have the ability to drive to their location and pick the product up? Very few, right?
Well, that distribution network, which is essential, is how we think of social media. We need it for a number of reasons, but primarily to drive traffic back to our own website. To get the most value from the time and financial investment we make in social media, we first need a social strategy detailing smart objectives and metrics so we can monitor our success.
If you're in the B2B world, it is essential that your entire professional team is trained on how to use LinkedIn (and arguably Twitter). LinkedIn has over 300 million users and more than 3 million company pages. And 35% of those users access LinkedIn every day.
So whether you're looking to connect with prospects, influencers or potential employees, imagine your reach if it included the networks of you, your company and your whole team? A network on steroids is the description that comes to mind.
And if you're wondering if it's ok to ask your employees to use their personal LinkedIn account to promote your business, check out this post here.
I'm going to assume that we all agree that the sales and marketing functions need to work together because they both play an important role in growing sales. And if you don't agree, you might be interested to know that Marketingprofs found that companies with aligned sales and marketing generated 208% more revenue from marketing.
I recently spoke with a B2B software development company which actually includes a bonus element for the marketing staff compensation, tied to sales. While that might not work at all companies, having shared objectives seems like a no brainer way to make the two teams want to work together.
There are number of ways to get these two teams to work as one, and we've done some smarketing posts on that in the past, which are worth checking out.
We all know that we need to measure anything in order to improve it. Often the reason people don't measure marketing is because they don't have the tools availalble or don't know what to actually track. Fortunately, that is no longer the case.
Whether it be with Google Analytics (which is free), HubSpot, or some other form of marketing automation, measuring has never been easier. And here are 12 Key Marketing Metrics which you can start tracking today.
So that all sounds great, but marketing anything successfully in the digital world requires a multitude of technical, strategic, and creative skills with a deep understanding of the resulting data. It's nearly impossible to find one person who can do all of that well.
When developing a digital strategy for marketing your professional services firm, it makes sense to do an assesment of what you are realistically able to do internally, both from a bandwidth as well as an expertise perspective, and get professional help for the rest. In many cases, the best marketing is done with a combination of in-house and outsourced resources.
Attracting new business in an increasingly competitive and digital world is a challenge, but not impossible. When we have the right strategy and team in place, we can attract more business than we could ever serve. I'd call that marketing on steroids.