Growing your sales is essential to the success of your business, and what better way to reach new customers than through marketing? In this article, we’ll be specifically looking at marketing to professional services.
Businesses often find that marketing to professional services is a challenge. After all, as a service or product provider to professional services, you need to demonstrate that you understand the complexities and ‘pain points’ of what are often highly technical sectors, all while being engaging enough to draw in the attention of new clients and build trust amongst your market.
Not only that, but your customers are individuals that want to be recognised as such- one recent survey reported that 77% of business to business (b2b) marketers believe that personalisation creates better relationships with customers. However, over half also responded that it’s more difficult to get personalisation right than it is for business to consumer (b2c) marketers. But, with a little direction, the challenge of marketing to professional services becomes much less complex.
This article looks at some of the key marketing fundamentals to take on board and identifies some actions your business can take to market your brand to your target successfully. If taken, these actions will contribute to growing sales, along well as a sustainable referral network.
Professional services include:
- Management consultants
- Engineers etc.
Stages of the customer journey
Firstly, let’s cover some of the digital marketing fundamentals and how you could benefit from using them for marketing your business to professional services.
You may already be familiar with the marketing funnel, which demonstrates the stages an individual goes through on their customer journey, from becoming aware of a brand to converting into a sale. You may have also heard of the ‘know, like, trust’ principle, which are the boxes you’ll need to tick for a prospect before they make the decision to buy.
Both the marketing funnel and the ‘know, like, trust’ principle run parallel to each other. See below the correspondence, as well as the kind of marketing actions that can help you to fulfil the requirements for each of the stages (please note, these actions are listed for those marketing to professional services and may differ for other target audiences).
Blogs, Video, Website, Social Media
Social conversion on LI, Email acquisition, Signup to continuing professional development (CPD) webinars
WebChat, Interactive CPD Webinar
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If you’re able to execute each of these stages effectively, you’ll be well on your way to growing your business and sales in a sustainable way. If you want to find out more about the digital marketing funnel and how it impacts your business, check out our free course here.
Next, we’ll explore some of the specific actions you should consider taking in more depth with our action plan.
Action plan for marketing to professional services
Updating your website
Your website will usually represent your most valuable marketing asset, and it’s where many customers will visit to get to know your brand. As part of your ‘owned media’, keeping it up to date and relevant is vital if you’re going to be seen as credible and relevant.
A few ways to update your website include:
- Having a website ‘reskin’
Credibility is key when marketing to professional services, and so if your website appears outdated or doesn’t contain the right information, visitors are likely to look elsewhere. If this is the case, it may be worth ‘reskinning’ your site to create the look and feel of a new site while keeping the framework of the old one.
- Posting regular articles
Updating your site regularly (in the right way) will also improve your site’s SEO, making it more discoverable on the search engine results pages. You can do this while building credibility and showing your customers that you understand their problem and have the right solution with regular blog/article posts. To get started on creating your own SEO-optimised articles, read our guide here.
- Security updates and backup
Ensuring your site is secure and backed up is also important to protect your site and prevent any security breaches. If you don’t already do this in-house, you may rely on a developer. But before you rest easy, check how much control you actually have over your own website if you ever wanted to take back the reigns- find out more here.
Updating your LinkedIn profile
As part of the awareness stage of the funnel and letting prospects get to know you, your social media profiles should be up to date and targeted in their messaging. Luckily for those marketing to professional services, LinkedIn is the primary platform to reaching new prospects, as well as nurturing and maintaining existing relationships. While Twitter and Facebook aren’t completely redundant, it’s well worth focusing at least most of your efforts on LinkedIn.
On LinkedIn, it’s generally best to rely on your personal profile as opposed to your brand account. This is simply because people sell to people- this is particularly true when marketing to professional services. It’s much easier to get to know, like and trust someone who has a friendly headshot profile picture and a personalised touch, rather than a faceless organisation trying to make a sale without first resonating with the audience.
Making sure your profile is up to date is a crucial part of getting your prospects to know, like, and trust, you and your brand.
Make sure you:
- Update your headline (this is the key piece of information people will see about you when they connect, so make it count!)
- Create an ‘about’ section on your profile with a message tailored to your intended audience (for example, demonstrate that you understand their pain points)
- Cite all relevant experience in the experience section
- Have a head and shoulders profile picture where you can see your face, eyes and smile clearly (profile pictures are integral to establishing trust)
- Create a branded graphic for your banner
Connecting with potential prospects on LinkedIn
Once your profile is up to date, you can begin connecting with the professional service providers you’d like to target on LinkedIn. This constitutes that start of your ‘acquisition’ and ‘like’ stage.
The key is to connect to decision-makers. These will usually be roles such as MDs, or head of departments, depending on your objectives and the size of the business.
To do this, you’ll ideally need Sales Navigator (the Professional version), a subscription-based social selling platform by LinkedIn. With Sales Navigator, you can easily search and send connection requests to profiles that fit within your target demographic to connect with by using search filters such as ‘title’, ‘industry’, and ‘location’.
Once connected, you’re set to start up a conversation- but that’s not the only benefit. As your LinkedIn network increases, so will your reach. The content you post will be seen by them, and so it’s key to start on the front-foot by showing you are credible and worth finding out more about.
To do this, you’ll need to tailor your approach to marketing to professional services. You’ll need a robust social media strategy in place so you can disseminate relevant, engaging content regularly- you can find out how to create one in our guide to social media marketing.
Starting a conversation
Once you’ve started the process of connecting to professional service providers in your target, the next step is to start a conversation. Starting with a pitch won’t work, and will cause connections to disengage, or could even cause damage to your brand’s reputation. Ultimately though, it’s an unsustainable practice to burn through your connections with a sales pitch rather than taking the time to nurture and grow business relationships.
That’s where conversational marketing comes in. The focus here is to build relationships and create authentic experiences. The conversation should generally start out in the Sales Navigator inbox and close with a phone call, where you can talk in more depth about the specific challenges they’re facing.
Capturing work emails
The last stage of the acquisition stage is to capture your lead’s work email, at this point, connections should already know and like you, and so providing their email to stay in touch and find out more is the natural next step.
Adding emails to Active Campaign
The next step takes you onto the engagement stage of the funnel. But before you can engage with your leads, you’ll need to add their email addresses to an email marketing software. We recommend Active Campaign, as there’s lots of functionality to take advantage of, such as email automation.
Now you’re capturing emails, you can begin building up the trust of your leads’. It’s a good idea to send out a monthly newsletter to keep them informed and up to date on your services. However, you’ll also need to provide some sort of value in these newsletters. This could be in the form of anything from a free 1-2-1, a free trial, a webinar, or a whitepaper you’ve published.
Keeping your content educational builds trust in your audience, as the content you share will show that you understand their pain points, as well as understanding how to fix them. Make sure what you share is available on your website and links to it from the email with a call to action (CTA).
If you really want to take your b2b marketing to the next level, then you will need to consider email automation workflow. You can read more here.
Posting twice a week on LinkedIn
As mentioned, more connections on LinkedIn means a wider reach when you post on social media. But reach isn’t everything, the content you share on you LinkedIn needs to be high-quality and consistent to have an impact.
Posting twice a week will account for the consistency. As for the content, professional service providers will benefit from relevant articles (these can be shared both website links and published as an article on LinkedIn), industry news, events such as webinars, and case studies. Those that are able to add a more personal touch to their content also tend to get higher engagement.
Running CPD Webinars once you have an audience
Once you’ve built up your audience, you can then create a continuing professional development (CPD) webinar. This will help you continue to nurture your relationships with your contacts, who can then become your referral network.
This does fall under your strategy for marketing to professional services, but there should be no selling in these webinars. Instead, you’re all there to engage with each other, discussing the challenges and solutions around a set topic. As people get to know one another, they’ll also eventually realise if one of the members offers a service that will benefit them, and so the attendees business’s also benefit- for example, the CPD webinar we’ve run for a few months now has already seen most members doing business with one another.
You can keep your connections informed about these webinars via email and social media. As a result of running these, you’re much more likely to be seen as a thought-leader who’s credible- the ‘know, like, trust’ principle gets fulfilled, and so does the engagement stage of the funnel.
Making marketing to professional services sustainable
Marketing to professional services has always required careful thought and consideration. Generally, decision-makers in these sectors are looking for a depth of understanding of your services, as well as the knowledge that you understand their needs before they commit to buying. As a result, your strategy needs to account for the need to nurture relationships and steer away from the chance of a quick sale. By following this article’s advice and continuing to nurture your connections and provide value through a variety of engaging, educational content, building a sustainable referral network of professional services is an achievable feat.
If you’d like assistance in growing your business network or marketing to professional services, click here to get in touch.