How do you bring in new business? I hope you don’t rely solely on referrals or print marketing, because if that’s the case you’re probably missing out. As a marketer working in 2017, it feels painfully obvious for me to tell you that digital is essential.
Alas, the statistics are bleak. One study shows that only 15% of all professional services firms generate 40% or more of their leads online. For accounting and finance firms, that threshold drops to 8%. A study of UK firms, meanwhile, found that 41% of respondents don’t have an established annual marketing budget.
Yet 80% of potential clients research professional service firms online, while only 55% use traditional references. Obviously, there’s a big disconnect here.
Of course, every firm has a different budget and capacity for marketing. It’s hard to put consistent effort towards bringing in new clients when you only have a few other people in your firm. If you’re part of a larger firm, you might have more time and money, but you’re also likely up against some serious competition.
For the purposes of these next few posts, though, I’m going to go through some basics of digital marketing for professional services firms before we get to more advanced tactics.
First things first: It’s practically impossible to successfully market your firm online without a good website. Unless you’re an architect, your clients probably don’t look to you for design or aesthetic advice, but that doesn’t mean you can completely forsake your site’s appearance, much less its functionality.
After all, one-third of prospective professional services clients have ruled out a firm because it had a subpar website.
While you might not feel you have time for a total redesign or the budget for a designer, don’t get discouraged. You can actually accomplish a lot with relatively inexpensive tools like Squarespace, Wix, WordPress, Duda, and so on.
When in doubt, go for something clean and simple. Most importantly, don’t forget to make your contact information extremely noticeable. Provide a few different ways for potential clients to get in touch with you including phone, email, and—ideally—social media.
Once you’ve got a nice-looking website, you should fill it with helpful content. Whether you’re a consultant, lawyer, CPA, architect, engineer, or anything else, your clients look to you for expertise. In fact, that’s the central reason why they hire you. Why shouldn’t you show it off?
Consistently blogging and promoting your articles via email, on social media, and elsewhere on the internet accomplishes a few things. First, it contributes to your visibility. If you properly promote your content—a topic we’ll save for another post—potential clients in your niche will find you.
Secondly, content marketing strengthens your credibility. People who come across your content online will trust you more and look to you as an authority. Even prospective clients who find you offline will be impressed once they see your blog or website. And when a prospect has a question about a specific issue, you may just have an article or white paper handy that discusses exactly that!
Once again, small firms can run into issues here. If you’re the most experienced person at your firm, you’re probably the one who should be writing articles and sharing your expertise. But when you’re busy running your business, meeting with clients, and so on, sitting down to write something seems unmanageable. Maybe you can do it once or twice a month, but it’s inconsistent and you don’t see tangible results from it.
There are a few ways to get over this hurdle, though. You could issue a challenge to yourself: Write 5 sentences a day. In less than a week, you’d have something to post. Or maybe there’s an employee at your firm who could help—you could have brainstorming conversations with them and then they could do the work of ghostwriting. Technology can make this even easier. If you have a long commute or you think of something while you’re cooking dinner, pull out your phone to record your thoughts. Voice-to-text processing has gotten much better recently, so you can just quickly clean up what you have later.
There’s a lot more to say about the topic of digital marketing for professional services firms, but hopefully I’ve offered some insight into both its importance and how you can approach it. Look out for more posts about this in the future!