Market a Business post

How to Market a Business in Professional Services

My oracle suggested that 110 Australians monthly want to know “How to Market a Business”. So I thought I’d outline the best ways to market a professional services business, because honestly it’s a lot different advice than for an online retail shop, a wholesaler, or a software product.

So – as I’ve seen in professional services, there are two main ways that people find out about them:

  • A street presence, including vehicle signage, office signage, etc.
  • Word of mouth, including all referrals

 

For accountants, lawyers, architects, quantity surveyors and the like, marketing must seem like a mystery akin to a magic genie. But really, it’s not venturing into the mystical – you can use logic in marketing any business.

attraction marketing for professional services

flickr. Top Rank Marketing. Creative Commons attribution 2.0 generic, 2013. (Cropped)

Create a Brand and Brand Proposition

So, a brand is:

a nice logo, sure, but it’s also great signage, professional appearance of staff, friendliness, signature touches (like you might just send a cheery Congratulations message whenever someone lodges their return), and a feeling one gets from interacting with the company or person.

 

A Brand proposition is:

Clarifying what your brand stands for (not just services you do) and the level of service you provide. Also see my explanation for ‘purpose-driven statement’.

 

KEY TAKEAWAY…

When you pre-plan what your brand represents and clarify what you stand for, how to put that across in your marketing becomes less mystical.

 

What is Business Marketing?

Many in the professional services think of marketing as advertising, but marketing a business is:

Putting the right MESSAGE in front of the right PEOPLE (target clients), in the right MEDIA

… and this activity can be paid or non-paid.

For example, you know paid advertising is SEM, radio, print ads, bus signs, etc. While free marketing is writing some targeted blog articles, being a podcast guest and highlighting what you do, speaking in public about your methods, etc.

So, say you talk at a Rotary club (retirees) about your latest software for compliance, you haven’t got the right PEOPLE or the right MESSAGE.  But if you gave a keynote at a Data conference about your latest software – and the attendees were all looking for software for medium businesses with this need – bingo, you have the triangle.

 

Common Mistakes with Marketing a Business… and their Solutions

Problem #1. They put the media first

Many business people put the Media first. So they say, I want an Instagram strategy, or I want to know how to do Facebook for business.

Instead, they (and you) should go back to your ideal client and brand positioning work and look for WHO it is you want to attract.

So for myself, my ideal client A is a business director of a professional service with one to three brands, a few staff, and $200,000 – $2 million in revenue. (For those above that level, others who have big teams are pitching that level).

 

Problem #2. The message is too broad

This ideal client is confused about what to write on their website (they have something, it’s just not that great) and what to put in blogs and in videos. What they have is usually bland, standard, corporate and broad. The message is too generic and offers no insight into the personality of the leaders, the ethos of the business, and the specific value they bring (through an education framework if its blogging).

They need guidance for that.

 

Problem #3.  The media type is wrong

The director level person is really busy and does not loiter on Facebook for long. Many of the lovely people I meet on Facebook are soloists and cannot afford my services. Rats tails.

So, to reach this ideal client A, I have to know the media they use. It is likely LinkedIn and the telephone for business relationship-building. They might even listen to top podcasts on a weekend.

Yes, the humble phone is often overlooked in marketing. Relationship building with the phone is a marketing tactic. Not pitching at this stage, just asking questions and noting the answers in a CRM and perhaps offering a free booklet or someone else’s seminar.

 

Problem #4.  Not digging into the real Client Persona

So I know their media, but now I need to create the right message. Spying (sorry, I mean researching) on people’s questions and business forum posts is getting to the real. I want to know the nitty-gritty struggles and concerns of Directors, not the shiny posts they are publicly putting out to impress their peers on LinkedIn. (Questions are put into Google and collated in online research tools).

After some research into their real struggles, I can put together CONVERSATIONAL copy for that ideal person to relate to. I might come up with some short video ads as well.

“Queensland Business” is one Facebook group which is useful for identifying business pains.  At the end of the day, even Directors of million-dollar businesses need someone to listen and say “honestly here is a better way than that, have you thought of this?”

 

What makes a Great Marketing Offer?

As a professional services provider, once you start talking about your niche, your amazing methods and your creative ideas, it’s only a matter of ending the speech (or video or book) with a simple offer in order to capture the interest already aroused. This free content or free trial can be placed on a landing page/capture form for ease of use.

The best offers in professional services really delve into their ‘ideal’ clients most wanted answers. They have problems, you have some answers, so you must, must talk about both. Speaking in conferences, keynotes, seminars, and podcasts can have a HUGE effect if you talk about both sides of the picture (the gritty side and the after, shiny side).

A great marketing offer also has a clear customer value benefit and a deadline for taking action.

 

Hinge Research Institute has done some research into high-growth professional services and found that having ‘visible experts’ talking about the business brings 66% more business development benefits, e.g. they generate more leads, demand 13x higher prices, and close more in sales. Makes you think, doesn’t it?

 

Have you Learned ‘How to Market a Business’?

Marketing a business in professional services is not a matter of posting to Facebook daily (a common tactic). It is getting really clear answers to your ideal clients’ struggles… defining your message and brand voice… and putting those messages into the right media channels.

It is having a website portal where you educate prospective clients and offer them relevant and original FREE reports (or even video tutorials).

So, begin thinking about what value-packed offer you could have at the end of the information download offered on your website. Get ’em while they’re amazed with your work!


If you’ve enjoyed this article, then please sign up for our awesome report on building a prospect list – or just go straight to Park Lane (Monopoly metaphor) and book a 30-minute discovery call with Jennifer.

 

 

 

 

dreamstime_s_idea_plan_laptop small

Integrated Marketing Strategy

When you have an integrated marketing strategy, you can drive your online marketing program with confidence. That means planning on paper, including mapping out a purpose statement, value statements, customer personas (or segmenting), calculating customer lifetime value, and defining ways to improve and narrowly target all marketing material.

Internally-directed marketing strategies, which many companies say they lack (46% in fact!*), means that you might be:

  • Driven by external marketing hot trends – that may not work for your audience
  • Confusing strategy with tactics, like posting on Facebook (which is a tactic)
  • Confused whether content and social media sharing is going to work or is working.

 

Starting with Value for the Client

It all starts with knowing your client and understanding the value you provide for them. And it’s not about years of experience, customer service, product quality, or anything else internal. If you read some of your testimonials, it might key you into some aspects that your clients love about what you deliver.
 
Write a Purpose-Driven Statement that you will keep internal. If the company has a purpose-driven statement written down, it can drive the larger marketing strategy.
 
Next, it has to come across in all marketing communications in its tone and personality. If you say your organisation will be: friendly and fully communicative, then does the website copy and brochure copy sound friendly? Do the account service people ensure full communication once a person comes on board?
 
We can brainstorm about these narratives by looking at the definite business value provided. The purpose-driven statement of Power of Words could be:

Listening to and empowering the business leader to impart their origin story and values, and letting these drive the language: Story-driven writing

What could your purpose-driven statement be?  Ensure you write it out once in full (4-5 sentences) then in one sentence, and simpler still, again in a short phrase.
 

Are you Selling them Functions, but Missing their Emotional Needs?

Anthony Robbins found that people have certain emotional needs that underly their actions:

  • Certainty/Comfort
  • Variety
  • Significance – e.g. social status, a high sense of worth
  • Connection/Love
  • Growth
  • Contribution

Which of these needs is most driving your users or clients?  When most makers and doers talk about what they do, they focus on form and function. But what the customer wants is usually stemming from an emotional need.
 
And that emotional benefit will be a more powerful motivator than a set of features. That’s why a lot of mass advertising concentrates on a tangible customer benefit or outcome. Rather than talk about the beans in the coffee, they share a good brew with family (connection/love)… or seem to become more attractive with a celebrity (significance)
 
Is there some hidden value in your offering that overrides any penny-pinching they might have?

 

Client Segmentation and Common Needs

Another aspect of Integrated Marketing is research into needs of your clients.  There will be various personalities that come to your site or presentations… and although each will have stronger need for say security, or new tech, or more status, a lot of these personas will have common needs.
 
This breaking up of customers into defined groups to allow for targeted marketing is called customer segmentation. This is kind of faceless stuff, like Marketing Mgrs & Directors, companies that have 20-50 employees, etc. It doesn’t get to the reasons for doing business with you.
 
But customer personas allows for a deeper kind of analysis.
 
Let’s look at the varied customer personas for an integrative marketing & finance cloud consultancy. I’ve added some invented motivations:

…. Small business consultants – who want affordable solutions that free up time

…. Marcomms Managers – who want to look good to their leaders and create better efficiency in their department

…. Financial Controllers – who want to have tech that works much better than currently (a focus on detail) – which will help them worry less about accuracy.
 
There are two crossovers here in the drive for better efficiency, but the emotional needs are going to be more important.
 
In a full customer persona though, you will look at roles/responsibilities, pain points, their problems, what options they have for solving the problem, and how it informs their behaviour.  This full analysis will drive us to develop a better marketing message that speaks to their emotional needs.
 
Another aspect of integrated marketing strategy is defining the lifetime value of clients.

 

Client/Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)

This is based on:

  • The last time they bought from you, how much? Work out the average value of a sale.
  • How many sales do you get per year?
  • How many years do they stay (on average)?

Multiply all these and then deduct the cost of doing a sale (acquisition cost) and direct overhead. This equals:  $….. for each client.
 
When you have the Client Lifetime Value, you can analyse various client segments and look at what is profitable. You’ll also know the value you can spend on marketing and understand why retention and loyalty is so important.
 
When you have CRM software that helps this along, such as Salesforce or Zoho, you can get a deeper understanding of CLV and multiple-time clients/buyers.
 
Then surveys (which test loyalty and assess advocates in an easy 1-10 scale) can indicate if your level of delivery is on target and if someone might promote your brand to others.
 
You might not even have a survey… but always have an option at the bottom of client induction forms to promote your service to their friends. This will indicate the percentage of people who feel confident enough to refer you or at least advocate your service. That’s why an online form is way better – it provides easy access to social sharing through share buttons.


integrated marketing trends
Clues to Your Clients: Finding Users Who Search

There are indications about what is most popular in your field that can be gathered from Google searches. This often shows up in Search Console data.

This does not mean the searchers are ready to buy – but an experienced marketer can understand what intent people will generally have by their keywords. Are they ready to hire or buy… or are they informing themselves with a longer question or general phrase?

So, keyword research is used here to find what part of the ‘customer journey’ they’re in when they come onto your blog or website pages. (Whereas other uses of these keywords come later on).

You can also use Google Trends for comparing 2-3 topics of competing trend searches that might be happening in your area. It can help with seeing the seasonal trends as well as what is growing in popularity over the past few years.


 

What Clever Integrated Marketing Strategy will you Form?

Now, you will need to gather all this data (keyword lists, Google Trends, and Search Console actual search keywords) into a clear and succinct marketing plan. This can then be used for:

  • planning website content, blogs, email content, event descriptions, etc
  • briefing external writers
  • your search engine marketing keywords and advertising

 

In the next step, you can plan a content calendar and associated images that meets the trends data, events in the world, and the needs of your defined client personas.
 


Thank you to Lynda.com ‘Building an Integrated Online Marketing Plan’ for the base theories in this article.
Please ask us for a free website content review or a personal briefing to better understand how content marketing can target key clients for you.

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