One of the biggest struggles we've seen with professional services firms across multiple industries is how to drive business development and marketing for their firm when they don't have a dedicated marketing team. In a lot of cases there may be one or two people that have marketing responsibilities in addition to their other duties and therefore don't have a lot of time or marketing knowledge to help expand their firm's growth strategically. However, there are several things that firms can do in lieu of having a market department that will not require them to abandon their marketing altogether.
Make a Plan and Develop Your Message
In today's world of online marketing, there are a variety of activities one can engage in, and when done correctly, can drive business development from marketing efforts. At Hinge, our experience has consistently shown that creating a marketing plan is beneficial in creating business growth and profitability. But where do you start and how do you determine what activities should be incorporated into your marketing plan?
You should always start with determining what the goals for your firm are. Where do you want to be in 5 years? What services do you offer and will you want to offer? How do your services meet the needs of your clients? Once you make this determination, you then need to craft your message..
Your firm will want a message that communicates your company's identity, purpose, and its unique nature, while still remaining different than your competitors. Your messaging will ultimately help drive your business development and marketing efforts.
Be Strategic With Content
So with that being said, another place you should spend your efforts is with a content strategy where you determine not only what kind of content you're going to create but also what your content is going to be about and how you are going to publish it. When creating content, you want to become the trusted source of educational content for your clients and prospects. And to really take advantage of content marketing, you need to create valuable, educational pieces on a regular and consistent basis. Your content can take many forms: blogs, articles, white papers, e-books, webinars, research studies, podcast, videos and more. While this may seem like an overwhelming amount of content to create, two of the biggest time savers will be to create and maintain a content calendar and to repurpose content you have already published.
Content calendars can be as sophisticated as you want, but we recommend you start simple. Start by brainstorming with your team on what challenges your clients and prospects are facing that your firm can help solve. This will help you generate a preliminary list of issues and topics for your writers to focus on. We recommend selecting three to five issues to really focus on, and then there is no limit to the number of topics that fall under each issue.
Your content calendar should map out dates for what is to be published, titles for your content and keywords to incorporate in the title and body of your text. Incorporating keywords into your blog posts will significantly help search engines find your content and direct your audience searching on that particular topic to your post. Your content calendar should also include all of the different types of content your firm is creating. This is where the second timesaver comes in, repurposing content.
Consider all the ways a single piece of content can be used. For example for every topic you decide to tackle, think of all the formats that can communicate your insights with your audiences such as: several blog posts around a singular issue, which can then be combined and edited into a guide. You may have one or more topics being discussed in the guide that could warrant more detail in a webinar. Your webinar would then be followed up with a blog post that highlights key takeaways and discussion points from your webinar discussion. And finally, you can use that same content from your webinar for a speaking engagement. See how that works! You've now generated a number of different marketing tools using the same content, which will save you countless hours of time.
In addition to creating your content, it's essential to push out educational content on a regular basis. This is critical to the success of your content marketing strategy. In fact, your biggest business development and marketing tool is your website! It will be one of the first places your audience will look to for information about your firm and your expertise, so make sure you leave a positive and lasting impression.
If your firm hasn't recently invested in improving your web presence, you are doing a major disservice to your firm. Your website has the ability to bring you a stream of new leads and business if you have what your audience is looking for. Wouldn't you like to have leads coming in while you sleep? How do you do this you ask?
Simple. You're creating valuable and educational content that people want, right? Have them exchange some simple information about themselves in exchange for your content. You won't want to ask them for their information for something like a blog post. But with your guides, whitepapers and more substantial pieces of content you can place it behind a registration form on your website for your audience to download.
When they register with their name and email, they are rewarded with that particular piece of content for free. Word to the wise though, keep your forms short and sweet so people don't feel like you're asking for too much personal information. Your contact list, which is stored in your CRM, is going to be one of your best business development tools because you can use your list to nurture leads and hopefully turn them into clients. The more time and effort you give your list, the greater gains you will receive.
Do What Works
When it comes to professional services marketing it's best to keep it simple, so when you sit down to write a marketing plan don't discard traditional tactics that have been working for your firm. If tactics such as networking, public speaking, or sponsorship have worked well for you in the past, keep doing it. But be sure to also add some online marketing tactics to the mix. Whether it's doing targeted pay-per-click advertising, keyword optimizing your website, or possibly engaging more in LinkedIn groups, a well-rounded strategy focused around the needs of your clients and prospects will make sure you are seen at every angle.
And with the many tools that firms can utilize in today's markets to streamline business development and marketing efforts, don't forget that your marketing plan has to be flexible. Make sure you analyze what efforts are working, what efforts are not and be able to make adjustments on the fly. The good news I give to you though, is you don't need a full team to undertake these efforts.
- Watch our free webinar, 2016 Marketing Planning: Building the Visible Firm, for more information on how to build an effective marketing plan for your firm.
- Check out our new blog post, Why Your Professional Services Firm Needs an Editorial Calendar in 2016, to understand why you need to keep your content organized this upcoming year.
- Get a copy of our Online Marketing for Professional Services book to learn techniques that will generate more leads and increase awareness of your firm.
How Hinge Can Help
Creating a comprehensive marketing plan is key to success in 2016. Hinge has developed The Visible Firm℠ program to help you create a marketing strategy and more. It is the leading marketing program for delivering greater visibility, growth, and profits. This customized program will identify the most practical offline and online marketing tools your firm will need to gain new clients and reach new heights.