I love New Year’s. Not for the reasons you think – I’m a mom and I live in Boston so I’m not inclined to go out in below freezing temps and celebrate the end of a year with 100,000 of my new best friends. Anyway, that’s New Year’s EVE – which is all about saying goodbye to the past. As great as that is, I like New Year’s DAY because it’s about saying hello. It’s about starting fresh, it’s about optimism and it’s about taking a new look at your marketing strategy.
This year, I have six New Year’s resolutions for marketing professional services:
- Say goodbye. Okay, even though a new year is about saying hello, you still need to say goodbye to some things – and some contacts. This is hard for professional services firms, who live and die by their relationships. But in any good relationship, you also need to know when it’s over. The old adage – “if you love something, set it free. If it comes back, it’s yours. If it doesn’t, it never was.” – applies here. Look at your contacts. If they haven’t interacted with you in the past year or maybe even six months, set them free. If it’s too hard for you to drop them cold turkey, give them a final shot: MarketingProfs recently sent me an email asking me if I was still out there. Do something similar for your unengaged contacts. Offer them something great to entice them to stay. If they respond, keep them in the database. If they don’t, cut them loose and focus on the contacts that really want to be part of what you’re doing.
- See your buyer in a new light. Clients always tell me they know who their buyer is. I believe them – they’ve been in their business for a long time and they haven’t been successful by ignoring their customers. The question is do they know how their buyers buy? The purchasing process has changed dramatically in the past few years due to technology and mobility. But professional services marketing has been slow to adapt to this change. The best thing a professional services firm can do is create buyer personas so they can truly understand not just who the buyer is, but how the buyer buys, and then create the right marketing content for the right buyer at the right time.
- Share your knowledge. Most professional services companies sell their knowledge and experience. This is why all professional services firms should be blogging. On your blog, you can share your insights and build trust. From a practical (and SEO) perspective, your blog drives traffic to your website and helps you better understand what your customers and prospects are looking for. A blog can help you organize your thoughts, or it can serve as an outline for a white paper or another piece of content marketing – it can even help you define a new service or offering. A blog takes a lot of work, but it is worth the effort in the long run.
- Show, don’t tell. This is an oldie but a goodie for anyone who ever took a writing course. The basic premise of “show, don’t tell” is to have your marketing draw an image in a reader’s mind or to create an experience for the reader. The way to “show, don’t tell” in professional services marketing is simple: Create case studies. Case studies are your proof – you don’t need to tell anyone that that you’re the leading consultant in your field when you can instead show them how you’ve created tangible value for a client just like them. Let prospects experience your awesomeness by showing them how you’ve saved the day for another client.
- Simplify. Clients get scared when I use the “s” word, but when you’re selling a complex product or service, the tendency is to tell a complicated story. The problem is you’ll lose your audience if you don’t simplify. Don’t worry – making things simple doesn’t mean dumbing them down or undermining your offering. It means making your marketing easy for your audience to understand. You can do this by creating marketing “chunks” and repurposing your content. Use white papers, video content, SlideShare, infographics and other media to tell you your story in a variety of ways, and let each prospect or client choose the one that speaks to them.
- Socialize selflessly. Professional services companies have grudgingly accepted that social media is here to stay. Most have a token presence on LinkedIn and Twitter, and the more adventurous have created a few YouTube videos and maybe even a Facebook page. But many are still approaching their social media in a traditional PR way by focusing only on themselves. This year, professional services companies need to become selflessly social. Make social media about others, not yourself. Stop using your social media channels only to promote your own stuff and instead share things that are relevant to your audience. Be generous. Be insightful. But most of all, be genuine and make sure your social media plan is part of your overall marketing strategy.
This is a lot, but there are 365 days in the New Year, which gives you plenty of time to make some changes that will truly improve your professional services marketing. (And, if this list is too long, check out these 4 simple marketing tactics most people forget to use and pop some champagne!)