Standing out from the crowd is a top challenge that all firms face today. It is especially cumbersome for professional services companies, given the intensely competitive environment. So, how does a professional services firm go about curating a unique name and identity for itself? A simple way is to network with people who can recommend your firm and its services to others or come on board as clients. With that said, professional services marketing is the need of the hour.
A Quick Run-through of the Services Marketing Arena
The services marketing sector is advanced today and word-of-mouth, through traditional references, is no longer sufficient and sustainable. According to the Managing Partner at Hinge, 80 per cent of clients use online sources when researching potential services providers, while only 55 per cent rely on traditional references.
Ways that a Professional Services Marketing Firm Can Make a Mark
Unique Selling Proposition
First up, a professional services marketing firm needs to market its unique features and solutions to the customers and audiences. The clichéd phrase, ‘we care about your business’, sounds almost superficial. So go beyond these and focus less on the talking and more on the delivering.
An impactful way of creating the USP is to consult with the team and clients. The first thing to do is to pen down two sets of questions, one for the team and the other clients.
Questions for the team
- What does the company stand up for?
- What aspects should our marketing efforts impart?
- How can we best communicate our vision and mission?
- How can our logo and design help impart our USP?
Remember, these can be twisted and tweaked. The set of questions mentioned above indicate what should go around in those team meetings and conferences.
Questions for the customers and audiences
- What is it that you think of when you see or hear about us?
- How does our brand make you feel?
- What words or phrases best describe the brand?
- How would you explain or pitch our brand to others?
- How would you rate us on all the parameters?
- What can we do to improve our service offerings?
The idea of these exercises is to discover and then deliver upon your USP. Make sure that the statement is powerful and genuine.
Display and showcase your benefits
Several companies make the blunder of focussing the message 100 per cent on themselves, their skills and services. Doing so can seem a bit of an oversell sometimes. Instead, a much more profound move is to curate a message that also talks about the customers. For example, if you are a well-established accounting firm, you will have a team of experts. Now, this is a no-brainer. But what is in it for the client? The client or customer has chosen to approach your professional services firm for a reason. With that said, your message could read, ‘Our experts can help you to save taxes’. The message communicates to the client the benefits of working with your company.
Emphasize your sector experience and expertise
What this essentially means is that professional services marketing companies should go beyond their services. It is beneficial because emphasizing the sector experience says to the customers, ‘I understand your world and ecosystem’.
But, saying that you have experience in the sector is not sufficient by itself. Companies should strive towards becoming genuine experts.
The following tips shall come in handy.
The more you share, the more people perceive you as an expert
Audiences and clients are seeking guidance and help towards resolving their problems. With that said, when potential clients find an expert in you, they feel cared for and heard. This creates a sense of security for customers. However, sharing too much can backfire. So, when you offer answers, you become the expert.
Narrow down the focus of your expertise
One would like to say that they do a lot of things. The perception is that this gives you more options. But, the trick is to find a way to blend these things and stand out from the crowd. Say you are a qualified engineer who has a secret love and passion for origami. You can find ways of combining both these avenues.
Professional services companies thrive on relationships. It is in your favour to harness these to forge profound marketing initiatives. The modus operandi of today lies in forming partnerships with other contacts and intermediaries – think of it as a services marketing value chain.
Remember that standing out from the crowd means uniqueness. And uniqueness stems from out-of-the-box thinking. Say you are targeting a particular service at HNIs or High Net-Worth Individuals, what you can do is find a luxury brand that aligns with the running of an event or experience.
Work on your online presence
SEO and SERPs are among the defining terms that keep afloat in the internet marketing industry. If your website no longer attracts that good chunk of visitors, know that something is amiss. Additionally, many users have moved to mobile, which is another area professional services marketing needs to work upon.
With the world becoming increasingly service-oriented, professional services marketing is taking the baton ahead. To accompany this trend is the advancement of tools, technologies and online sources that help streamline the offerings.