There is a lot of competition in most professional services sectors. Try searching on google for accountants in your city, for example. That search will likely reveal a long list of qualified accountants. The same will be the case for other professionals, including lawyers, financial advisors, and architects. So, one of the keys to marketing a professional services business is visibility.
Of course, traditional networking still has a part to play in finding new clients, and local advertising will also attract a few customers. However, the internet has changed the professional services landscape. People now rely more on the internet to find professional advisors than word of mouth or traditional advertising.
The challenge for professional services companies is to get noticed. However, some marketing strategies used in other sectors will not be appropriate for professional businesses. So, here are ten tips to get a professional services business noticed without compromising the brand.
Focus on a Niche Audience
Specialization may not be ideal for all professional businesses. However, focusing on one or more niche markets can give a professional business a competitive edge. And, of course, a company can specialize in more than one area. So, niche marketing does not restrict a business’s ability to take on other types of work.
Focusing on niches had several benefits. A specialized business can develop and market expertise in a particular field, for example. Target markets can be identified, and marketing activities can then be targeted at that sector. Specialization will also give businesses a competitive edge over the more generalized companies.
Develop a Lead-Generating Website
The hard-sell tactics of eCommerce may not be appropriate for professional services businesses. Nevertheless, the website of a professional company should still be considered a lead-generator and play a central role in the company’s marketing.
The content of a professional business website should demonstrate the business’s expertise in its niche. Case studies and testimonials will provide social proof of the company’s professionalism. And calls to action will be needed to encourage leads.
The site may not be as hard-sell as it might be in other sectors. Even so, a professional services site should be viewed as a lead-generating tool.
Optimize the Website for Search Engines
Any website needs to be optimized for search engines. And search engine optimization (SEO) encompasses a range of strategies. The first step is to identify the relevant keywords. Then, high-quality content targeting those keywords will need to be produced.
The website will also need to be designed to be search engine friendly. So, if SEO expertise does not exist in-house, development and maintenance of the site might best be outsourced
It is also crucial to recognize that SEO is not a one-off exercise. Keywords may need refining, for example. And SEO tactics may need modifying as search engine algorithms are constantly evolving.
Promote Visible Experts
Most professional businesses have experts in particular fields or disciplines, and these experts can command higher fees and be used to promote the business. However, some professional services firms do not capitalize on the marketing value of such experts.
The skills of experts can be highlighted in a variety of ways. The first of these promotional activities is to have team leaders’ and specialists’ biographies on the website.
Experts could also contribute blog posts on the site and be encouraged to submit articles to other relevant sites. Speaking engagements are another way to make experts in the business more visible.
Attend Trade Shows
Trade shows bring professional service providers and potential clients together in one place. So, they are an excellent forum for networking and promoting the business. Trade shows also provide a further opportunity for the visible experts to present seminars.
Attendance at trade shows is another example of where expertise can be leveraged. A business of accountants specializing in small businesses, for instance, could attend shows targeted and small and medium-sized businesses.
Network on LinkedIn
Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter can be valuable marketing tools for professional services companies. However, the primary site for professional businesses is LinkedIn. So, developing a presence on LinkedIn is a marketing essential for professional services businesses. It will help, too, if individual employees boost their presence and networking efforts on LinkedIn.
Develop Partnerships with Other Businesses
There are usually many opportunities for a professional services business to develop mutually beneficial partnerships with other non-competing companies. Lawyers and accountants could work together in targeted sectors, for example. Or a web design business could partner with a content writer.
Alliances can reduce marketing costs and increase referrals. Professional services businesses working together can hold joint corporate events or share stands at trade shows. There might be a lead referral agreement, formal or informal, and there might also be opportunities for joint marketing and advertising campaigns.
Use Multiple Content Formats
Providing valuable content is an excellent way of attracting new leads. And many different formats can be used to distribute content. eBooks, for example, can be used for industry briefings. Video how-to guides would be helpful in some sectors. And podcasts or webinars on topical issues can also attract significant audiences.
Content marketing is a valuable marketing tool for most professional services businesses. The formats mentioned above provide marketing collateral and showcase a business’s expertise in their fields. Content marketing also provides a platform for increasing the visibility of in-house experts.
Sell the Benefits
It can be tempting for a professional services business to merely list the things they offer. But marketing will be far more effective if the emphasis is on the benefits of those services. In essence, professional companies must be customer-centric rather than service-focussed. To put it bluntly, prospective clients need to understand what’s in it for them.
Selling the benefits may appear brash in some sectors. However, the days of marketing professional services based only on experience, qualifications, and reputation are gone. In today’s crowded marketplaces, all businesses must demonstrate product benefits in their marketing content.
It can be challenging to identify USPs (unique selling points) for some professional services businesses. After all, the services of one accountant or law firm will be almost identical to those of another. However, differentiation from the competition is still crucial, and it’s USPs and branding that will create that differentiation.
The best way to identify the USPs of a professional services business is to talk to the clients. After all, the client knows why they chose a particular company and prefer to continue using that service provider.
To sum up, marketing a professional services business is all about visibility and differentiation. And both these objectives can be met by selling the expertise within the company, targeting niches, and identifying USPs. Then, a lead-generating website, content marketing, and social media sites, especially LinkedIn, are needed to get the message out there.