B2B Marketing for Professional Services
Professional services firms need a specific approach in B2B Marketing. The professional services sector consists of people selling intangible assets to help customers manage their businesses or improve a specific part of their business. Providers of professional services impart expert knowledge about niche business areas, such as finance or law, allowing the business owners to concentrate on delivering their core services.
In this article, I show the ten most important strategies for professional services firms (financial services, engineering, architecture, legal services, creative and marketing services).
1. Thought leadership is the king of content
While SEO content sustains long-term growth, a solid content strategy goes beyond that. In the world of professional services, thought leadership is a tried-and-true content marketing strategy that remains one of the industry’s most popular trends because it works.
B2B professional services firms can approach thought leadership strategy in several ways:
- white papers
- speaking engagements
- op-eds in leading industry publications
The most powerful content makes technical expertise accessible.
2. Customer relationship management is critical
Professional services firms rely on repeat business. For example, a small business isn’t just hiring an accounting firm to file one quarterly tax return. They’re hiring someone to work with them indefinitely. This is why some of the most effective professional services marketing trends focus on customer relationship management (CRM).
We’re seeing an increase in B2B service businesses pairing CRM with their marketing strategy to deliver a more personalized customer experience. In the last years, the service industry increased personalized email marketing, which has a notoriously high ROI. As a result, the popularity is gaining for CRM email marketing, which integrates CRM software with marketing platforms (such as HubSpot or Salesforce).
3. B2B customers want hyper-personalisation
Personalisation has been a priority for most B2B businesses, but in the realm of professional services, it’s become especially important. Firms rely on building close relationships with potential clients and need to demonstrate extensive knowledge and expertise within a customer’s specific niche. There is no one-size-fits-all option. Think of it this way: a financial advisory services firm may design payment processing and settlement for both start-up and global enterprises, but they aren’t using the same approach. They wouldn’t market to those clients the same way either.
Personalisation is increasingly important to B2B customers. Customers find personalised advertising appealing, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. Most of it can be automated with tracking cookies, which keep tabs on how a user navigates through the web. Marketers can also use them to:
- Target mailing list
- Serve dynamic ads that change based on a user’s internet history
- Offer automated sales and special offers that are dynamically attuned to the user
- Recommend services based on browsing history
4. Extend reach with an omnichannel strategy
It’s easy for a brand’s marketing messages to get lost in the noise. The more often business customers connect with your brand, the greater the opportunity to make a conversion. To make this happen, service businesses must focus on an omnichannel strategy.
Omni-channel marketing delivers a consistent, personalized brand message across all channels on all devices. With omnichannel marketing, B2B services provide a seamless experience no matter what platform or device customers are using.
Users switch between devices every day. They’re checking their email on their phone while browsing social media on their iPad and watching YouTube videos on their desktop. When you use an omnichannel strategy, your message is unchanging even as your customers switch devices and channels.
5. Niche targeting
One of your most important business considerations – period – is specialisation and niche targeting. The fastest-growing firms tend to be specialists in a carefully targeted niche. This should be an area of the industry that you understand thoroughly, a space in which you can become an undisputable expert and leader.
Specialisation makes all of your marketing efforts easier because it tends to define exactly what you do and immediately distinguishes you from the competition. A specialisation is a differentiator that proves itself.
6. High-Performance Website
The firm’s website is one of your most crucial assets in a B2B marketing strategy. It is much more than a digital billboard or brochure, as some firms believed in the past. A successful website is the hub of a firm’s online presence and an information-rich projection of its expertise into the marketplace.
A website is a critical tool for building visibility. Potential clients search online to find service providers, and they need to be able to find your firm’s website in order to have a chance at winning their business. Plus, your website enables you to demonstrate your firm’s expertise and become well-known throughout the marketplace.
And as new visitors reach your site, robust educational content and carefully targeted offers can drive leads to closer and closer engagements, eventually bringing qualified leads straight to you.
The second component of the website to consider is the design. Web and graphic design can influence the audience’s perceptions, aid recall, and swiftly and intuitively differentiate a business. The power of a good responsive design to engage audiences is often underappreciated — which means it offers a tremendous opportunity to set firms apart and convey the credibility firms need to thrive.
The target audience has to be able to find the website for it to be effective. That’s where search engine optimisation plays an important role.
7. Use of Social Media
Social media can be an important component of an overall B2B marketing strategy for Professional Services firms. Most buyers check out new service providers on social media, making it a more commonly used source of information than formal referrals and recommendations. Put simply, social media is an accelerator for the reach of your reputation, expertise, and content. It allows you to network and connect with valuable contacts and influencers, as well as monitor your brand by social listening.
Social media is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to promote a firm’s content. Creating a social media marketing strategy to promote your content via different channels will help build reputation and visibility—i.e., your brand.
Social media is also a great way to do research. Before you meet with a new client, interview someone for a case study, or hire a new employee, you should check out their social media streams. Regardless of whether they are a corporation or an individual, you will learn a lot about their personality, authority, reputation, and visibility. Social media is also an easy way to research marketplace trends and engage with the competition, keeping you abreast of their initiatives and, perhaps, allowing for advantageous collaboration. This concept of market intelligence is sometimes referred to as social listening.
When choosing a target audience for a social media campaign, better don’t be too narrow. In most complex B2B sales there is rarely just a single decision-maker. Many decision-makers rely on advice from peers or outside consultants, as well as the usually trusted advisors. So it’s a good idea to widen the scope to include all of those potential influencers.
In a social media strategy focused on B2B, LinkedIn is a safe place to start. Twitter and YouTube are also good fits for most B2B situations.
8. Advertise for Consultation Firms
There are a number of platforms on which a consulting firm can advertise effectively:
- Industry publications and websites
- Social media
- Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
It’s important, however, to use forms of advertising best-suited to professional services. LinkedIn, retargeting, and other industry-focused advertising tend to work best because they allow you to target appropriate industry audiences, which leads to more conversions, higher click-through rates, and lower cost per download.
Search engine marketing (SEM), on the other hand, often can be harder to target for professional services purposes. However, it’s important to remember there are many variations of each of these advertising types. Professional services firms might find them more or less successful depending on budget, ad purpose, targeting, and industry niche.
9. Marketing Technology
Marketing Automation: Marketing automation replaces high-touch, repetitive manual processes with automated ones – supported by technology solutions. It brings together all of your online marketing channels into one centralized system for creating, managing, and measuring programs and campaigns.
As with any technological tool, it’s essential to select the right marketing automation software for your firm. Make sure the size, complexity, and scalability of a prospective solution are a good match for your needs.
CRM: Another essential software is a Customer Relationship Management System (CRM). Many firms use a CRM to track and organize opportunities and client information. In short, a CRM will help you stay organized and connected, no matter how sophisticated your operations grow.
Your CRM serves as the database for all the information you collect about opportunities and clients, including specific interactions with them. The information can be entered, stored, and accessed by employees in different firm departments, synchronizing efforts across your firm.
Lead Nurturing: But CRM isn’t the end of the story. Remember the lead-nurturing content funnel? Your website is one critical piece of that puzzle – and email marketing is another. Targeted, analytics-driven email marketing campaigns allow you to deliver soft and hard offers for specific buyer roles, tailored to a buyer’s particular place in the buying process.
Similarly, drip email campaigns enable you to send more targeted offers to segments of your audience over a set period of time. This builds closer engagement (and educates further) through successive, relevant content and offers.
10. Data and Analytics
It is critical to analyse the right metrics in order to measure results effectively. You will need tools in place to collect accurate data on all your efforts, from your website to social media to SEO.
Google Analytics and Data Studio is an essential tool for measuring and analysing site traffic. Hubspot, MOZ and SEMrush can help you study and improve the SEO results and provide detailed social media analytics.
Analytics and testing help you truly understand what is working and what is not. They will help to turn the marketing efforts from an art form into a science.