Professional services cover a wide variety of industry, from law to accounting, and beyond. What makes these businesses unique is that they don’t offer tangible products to their customers, but rather, knowledge-based services instead.
People in this line of work are essentially selling relationships with a promised outcome, often making it difficult to prove their value. Additionally, these businesses are often inundated with competitors fighting for their audience’s attention.
Those in professional services know all too well how hard it can be to separate themselves from the crowd…but it can be done.
My recommendation? Start with content. Content is essentially the air of marketing these days. Without it, your business will fall behind. With that being said, here are a few ways to use it to give you a competitive advantage if you’re in this space.
Make time for marketing
First things first, you have to make time for marketing. It is not uncommon for people in professional services to want to dedicate 100% of their time to client work, but if you want a consistent flow of prospects coming in the door, you need to do your part and stay active with marketing.
This doesn’t mean you need to always have an endless supply of leads coming in, you only need enough to keep your business going, so identify that number and revise your efforts from there.
If you’re a CPA or a lawyer and don’t want, or have the time, to focus on the marketing efforts yourself, it’s OK to delegate these tasks and even outsource outside of your business. This will allow you to focus on client work and other tasks that require your attention. As long as you own the overall strategy, it’s OK to ask for help on the rest.
Before you do anything, you must clearly define who your ideal client is, otherwise the marketing efforts you put in won’t even matter. Don’t just base your target audience on a hunch or what you believe to be true. Be sure to actually do your research, call clients, look at past client conversation via email, etc. The list goes on but it’s important to be extremely thorough with this and understand their pain points and how your business can help solve them. Once you’re aware of them, you can address them in your content (more on content later).
When talking to my clients in professional services, I often find that they find the most success by being really specific about who they’re trying to reach. This isn’t a necessity necessarily, but it can help you get really targeted with your messaging and establish a strong emotional connection with that group of people. Specializing can be a great thing, as long as you know how to reach and communicate with the people you’re going after.
Create a content strategy
One of the first things a professional services business needs to do as part of their marketing efforts is to develop a content strategy, which very few businesses actually do. However, a documented strategy can help to keep your business on track and make you more effective with your efforts. Knowing your goals, what you’ll be creating and what you’ll be measuring will help you optimize your marketing efforts moving forward and can prevent you from spinning your wheels.
Since professional services don’t sell tangible products, it is especially important that these businesses show their knowledge and expertise through content to help establish trust and credibility with their audience.
Be a thought leader
Since you’re selling services and not a product (per se), you need to establish yourself as a thought leader within your industry (and location if you’re a local business) and prove that you have a lot of experience and are more than capable to handle your client’s needs.
Often times, clients of a professional services business don’t really know what they’re getting into or fully understand the process and services. Many times, the only things they care about are that you’re reputable and know what you’re doing due to extensive experience.
Whatever expertise you have, make it known through testimonials, case studies, association badges, the works! Remember to be original and show your personality. Your prospects are likely doing their research and they don’t want to hear the same thing from every business they’re approaching. Make yourself unique and memorable through your content.
Put your website to work
The purpose of your website isn’t to sit there and look pretty. It needs to actually do work for your business. In a nutshell, in addition to it carrying your message and showcasing your personality, it can act as a lead generating machine and be the hub of your marketing efforts.
I discuss the content necessities for a professional services website in this post and highly recommend that you check it out for a deeper dive into this topic.
Focus on SEO
Many businesses don’t immediately think SEO when they think of content, however, these days, they are almost one in the same. The more valuable content you put on your site, the more Google will recognize you as a website to watch. They want their users to have an exceptional customer experience. If Google recognizes you do that for your clients and prospects, they’ll be more likely to increase your rank in search engine results pages.
If I haven’t implied this enough throughout the rest of the post, let me state here that your content must be valuable to your audience. It must be well-written and truly useful for its viewers.
Within the content, it’s important to include relevant keywords to help alert Google of what the content is about. Note, and this is a big note: Do not keyword stuff. The keywords you use should flow naturally. Google can tell when you overuse keywords and will penalize your site for it.
Include these keywords in your content, header tags, meta descriptions, page titles, alt text, and URL.
As with most areas of marketing, your SEO strategy isn’t something you should just focus on sporadically. It’s important to give it consistent attention to make sure that the tactics you’re implementing are working.
To wrap everything up, content marketing in the professional services space needs to be about truly helping your audience and establishing yourself as an expert in your field. Show each prospect and client that you truly care and that they’ve been heard. Essentially, make them feel special, both in your one-on-one conversations with them as well as in your content.
By making your content revolve around your prospect and not your business, you’ll be one step closer to turning them into a client.
Need more tips on how to grow your business? Check out our entire Guide to Marketing Professional Services.