Do you need more leads and clients? Are you wondering how to market your professional services effectively?
The professional services market has changed tremendously over the last couple of years, and those changes impact your business.
As the Professional Services report by Freedonia states:
“[…] the maturity of the market and the intense competition among professional services firms will constrain their growth.”
Take marketing your professional services, for example. Relying on referrals and walk-ins as the main or even the only source of qualified leads is no longer a sustainable, long-term strategy.
Today, professional services firms have no option but to market their businesses actively, and do so online too.
The problem? Most professional service providers lack the expertise to deliver successful marketing campaigns.
If you’re struggling with that too, keep on reading. This guide will show you exactly how to market professional services and boost your business development. I will also show you how a specialist marketing agency will help you deliver the strategy and achieve your goals.
But to begin, let’s look at your current situation more closely.
Why You Have No Choice But to Market Your Professional Services
As part of my job, I regularly meet and discuss marketing professional services with lawyers, realtors, home services and medical services providers, and more. Many of those people are still surprised by the notion of the necessity for developing their firm’s marketing strategy.
And yet, the facts speak for themselves:
Your competition is rising, fast.
In 2018, professional services was a $2trillion industry, that combined 9.4 million jobs spread out over 1.2 million firms.
Considering that the data is two years old now, the current market is, most likely, significantly bigger.
Now, that’s quite a competition that you have to beat to a customer.
Professional services firms can market openly now.
In the past, some marketing channels were out of your reach due to various legislations and regulations. Today, you can avail of most of them, including advertising.
But so can your competitors, which means that unless you use those strategies, potential customers will discover your competition instead of you.
The trust in professional service providers has been dropping.
To overcome it, you must employ a strategic approach to marketing to build your firm’s brand, authority, trust, and online presence.
All those arguments above prove the importance of marketing professional services. And yet, you might still be feeling intimidated by the thought of having to market your firm.
Why Do You Find Marketing Professional Services So Challenging?
Time, or lack of it, is undoubtedly one of the main reasons.
Most professional service providers are busy delivering their core services. That leaves little to no time to devote to learning and implementing effective marketing techniques.
Even if you do dedicate some time to marketing, it’s rarely enough to avail of all opportunities and marketing channels at the firm’s disposal.
How can an agency help?
When hiring an agency, you immediately gain access to all their combined marketing experience and all the resources to plan and implement your strategy.
The complexity of marketing can deter many firms from promoting their services.
With customer trust in professional services in decline, your marketing strategies must achieve many results simultaneously:
- Build your authority in the market,
- Position you as a trustworthy supplier,
- Differentiate you on the market, and finally,
- Generate interest in your services and acquire leads.
Add to that the channel diversification – so many different ways to drive traffic to the site – and you can quickly feel overwhelmed by it all.
How can an agency help?
This is something an agency can help with as well. It can create the messaging that outlines the differentiating factors. Then, an agency would communicate the messaging throughout all marketing channels to help your firm stand out in the market.
Finally, a long sales cycle may feel discouraging to continue marketing.
From experience, I know that customers spend more time evaluating professional services than other businesses. Researching workers comp lawyers or a divorce lawyer may take anything from 6 months to a year before a person decides to reach out to a provider.
The buying journey in professional services is lengthy too. Before googling vendors, prospective clients would often look for information about the problem, and the length of the cycle may feel discouraging.
How can an agency help?
An agency understands the buying journey your prospective clients go through. As a result, they can plan to engage them at every stage of the process, focusing on users earlier in the cycle, then, remarketing to them to keep your firm on top of their minds, and nurturing leads until they are ready to buy.
How to Market Professional Services: 8 Pillars of Professional Services Marketing
Let’s discuss how it all happens in practice – What channels and strategies an agency would use to deliver your growth.
#1. Content Marketing
As a professional services provider, you sell expertise and knowledge. Content allows you to make that expertise and experience obvious to customers looking for services like yours.
What’s more, content, typically coupled with SEO, allows you to reach customers early in the buying cycle. You can, then, convince them of your firm’s expertise, and start building a relationship with them.
#2. SEO, Local SEO, and Online Advertising
What’s the first place customers visit when beginning their search for professional services?
Most customers turn to the search engine when researching their problem and to look for suggestions of providers to hire.
SEO is a strategy that helps get your website and content in front of those people when they search for relevant information.
Local SEO ensures that anyone seeing services like yours discovers your business information in the search results. This can happen either through what’s called a Local Pack or the Google Maps.
Finally, online advertising – using Google Ads, for example – offers you the ability to introduce your firm to customers who seek what you offer.
TIP: Joining the Google Screened program also helps you promote your firm with Local Ads, and boost trust in your company.
#3. Email Marketing
Unfortunately, not every lead will buy from you after the initial contact. In fact, as research reports, 50% of qualified leads are not ready to buy right away. However, it doesn’t mean that they won’t engage with your firm in the future.
Email marketing – sending regular newsletters and other content, for example – helps you keep your firm on top of their mind and nurture leads by providing value continuously.
#4. Networking (In-person or on LinkedIn)
Networking is by far the oldest trick in the book when it comes to marketing professional services. Today, however, networking goes beyond in-person meetings, trade shows, and local networking events. These are still helpful, and you should attend them regularly.
But don’t forget to build up a network online. LinkedIn, Quora, and other platforms offer a whole range of opportunities to connect with potential clients, gain referrals, and build your authority status.
Here are just some ways that you could implement:
- Connecting to local LinkedIn groups and sharing content and advice,
- Writing content on LinkedIn,
- Answering questions from potential customers on Quora,
#5. Video and Podcasting
Video has taken the world by storm. So does podcasting. YouTube has already become the second most-visited site online after Google. The number of people listening to podcasts to gain knowledge and expertise has been growing exponentially too.
Creating a weekly podcast show discussing the intricacies of problems you help customers overcome will build your visibility but also help customers get their impressions about you. They’d be hearing your voice and listening to your advice regularly, after all. This will help many decide whether they like and trust you.
With a video, they will not only hear but also see you, making their first impressions about you right on the spot.
Are podcasts and videos challenging to create? No. Our clients create both formats. In most cases, professionals we recommend can create videos within a couple of days, while you can easily create several months of podcast content within 2-3 days.
#6. Expert Visibility
Expert visibility relies on building your public expert status through content, interviews, public speaking, media coverage, and more. You use it to position you as the most-known expert in the industry (at least in your immediate target market.)
Although the expert visibility does not always translate to more business directly, it helps fuel your firm’s profile on the market, and create opportunities to attract more leads.
#7. Signature Pieces of Content
This strategy to help build your visibility and credibility focuses on creating what we refer to as signature pieces of content:
- An eBook with valuable advice to potential customers.
- Proprietary research or analysis that can help customers make better-informed decisions,
- Research contributions, and more.
Over time those assets get referenced in other publications and rank for competitive phrases. We also distribute them and get dozens of authoritative links to that content, fueling your online marketing efforts further.