In case you haven’t noticed, online marketing for professional services is here to stay! And according to our research, 47% of firms plan to develop a content marketing program in the near future. Firms are using their website, content marketing and social media (just to name a few) to boost visibility and improve their reputation online. Which, in turn, brings in new qualified leads without having to leave the office. Who wouldn’t want that?
Having been on both the client and agency side myself, I’ve heard my fair share of objections to online marketing. Here are a few common ones you may hear and some ammunition to strengthen your case in favor of online marketing.
1. “No one is searching online for professional services, so we don’t need to bother doing anything.”
What your firm might not want to recognize is that your clients and prospects ARE indeed looking for professional services online! They’re going online to get educated about the services they’re looking to purchase. And by the time they have gone online to find firms who will be able to help them, they are typically in the final stages of their decision-making process.
What this means is that if your firm isn’t creating valuable and educational content on a regular basis, you are essentially invisible to them. Since more and more of your audiences are searching online for services, you’re going to want to be there to educate them and gain their confidence as a subject matter expert. Because trust me, if you’re not doing it, you better believe your competition is!
- Your website: 80.8% of professional services buyers check out your website before making a purchase decision. Make sure the quality your website reflects the strength of your brand, containing a repository of useful and educational information that demonstrates your expertise.
- Content: what are the pain points your clients and prospects are dealing with? Write to those and don’t make your content too sales oriented or self-promotional. Make the content useful and shareable. Maintain an appropriate rhythm to keep your audience coming back for more.
- Search Engine Optimization: make your website and content work for you. Optimizing your website and content with relevant keywords will increase the likelihood that your audience will be able to find your firm online.
2. “Content marketing sounds like a great idea, but I don’t have the time or resources.”
True, online marketing, content marketing specifically, is not an easy or quick task. It does take time and dedication to make it work as it should. My advice, take it one step at a time.
First, you’ll need a strategy. Consider these four points:
- You need to know who on your team is going to be an active participant.
- You need to identify what your main goals are.
- You need to know how you are going to measure your results.
- You need to be realistic in what you can truly accomplish.
Having your strategy in writing will help establish accountability and keep things moving in the right direction.
When it comes to time, I have a solution to that as well. It’s called repurposing! It sounds like a simple concept, but you’d be surprised to know that most professional services firms who start to think about venturing into content marketing, think they need to create fresh content every week. So yes, that does sound daunting and overwhelming. I would probably throw in the towel as well. But with a well laid out strategy and by repurposing content, you will streamline your efforts and create a stronger online presence.
Here’s how you can repurpose one piece of content:
- Develop a piece of stock content. For this example, let’s use a published guide.
- Condense the guide into three shorter and digestible chunks and voila! You have three separate blog posts.
- You can also host a webinar for your clients and prospects discussing key findings or topics from your guide.
- For an offline option, solidify a speaking engagement where your talk about the major themes from your guide.
One piece of content, four different ways. Sounds achievable to me!
3. “There is no ROI. It’s impossible to track the impact online marketing has on our firm.”
This is flat out not true! You just need to have the right tools to track your effectiveness. If your firm plans to engage in online marketing, you’ll need to invest in a Client Relationship Management (CRM) system. Whether you’re using Salesforce, Sugar CRM, InfusionSoft or Marketo (to name a few); your CRM will house all of your contact information, marketing campaigns and will track all of your contacts’ online marketing activity.
Your CRM is able to track all of your online marketing conversions, be it joining your email list, downloading a white paper or registering for a webinar. You’ll want to set up lead nurturing campaigns for your contacts so that over time, when your contacts are ready to buy, they turn to your firm first. And any reputable CRM will also come with a plethora of reporting capabilities. Now there is no excuse for senior management to question the effectiveness of your online marketing efforts!
There’s no question that many professional services firms are cautious about investing in online marketing. But through our research of 500 professional services firms, here are some final thoughts for your senior management to chew on:
- About 77% of professional services firms generate new business leads online.
- Firms that generate 40% of their leads online grow 4 times faster.
- High growth firms generate more leads online.
It’s not enough to ‘take a chance’ on online marketing. Make a plan, be patient and stick with it. Results won’t happen overnight, but they will come in time.
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