Why are today’s marketing trends and research results so disruptive to the consulting and professional services industries, and the B2B community as a whole?
If it ain’t broke…
As a professional service provider, you know–better than any other B2B industry–exactly who your customers are. Consultants, technical staff, support staff, and more work with your clients every day. They want to talk about measuring data? Well, a facial expression in a meeting room or an abrupt email reply is all the data you need to determine whether you’ve connected properly, met expectations, saved the day… or not.
You’re in the relationships business. Providing services and solutions is really about providing the right people to deliver them. The feedback is instantaneous. You know whether you’re going to get along well with your client’s team, what expectation adjustments you need to make, and when to just be there for your client.
You know the decisions you make today will absolutely impact that relationship months later. You’ve been there when the impact of other decisions came home, for better or worse.
… why does it need fixing so bad?
Because professional services marketing teams have yet to realize that the development of relationships and the arrival at decisions is happening differently than it did even five years ago.
Prospective clients usually make their first encounter with your company online. And they expect more from the start of a relationship than brochure-style webpages crammed full of information they’re not necessarily ready for. They want interactive graphics, a more visual presentation, and current info about the people who deliver the services they want.
Current clients are seeking gratification elsewhere, outside of their relationships with you, using ideal new services and technologies at home, in other aspects of their jobs, and for fun. And they’re starting to wonder why their experiences with you are so… not Uber-like. Where I used to work, a client asked about our software, “Can you make this work on my iPad?” She was only half joking. And she’s a Fed.
Professional services marketing strategies should approach new leads like they do new client relationships.
Reach out to leads the way you reach out to your clients. Do you find current customers like to hear from the Account Executive or VP? Select a point of contact and reach out to leads the same way. The Expert Institute lifted conversion of leads 200%–and only sent out a letter once a month. It turns out that just like the people you work with every day, strangers who sign up for your mailing list expect to get to know you.
Realize that those relationships are not as sacred as you think. What’s posted in your enewsletter probably won’t stay in your newsletter–if you’re writing great content, that is. And that’s a good thing, because…
Your readers are in control of your brand. Realizing that the voice of your readers is now huge, live, and loud is exhilarating from the marketing perspective, but it’s also just plain scary. Play it safe on your blog to sound stuffy and forgettable. Use actors in your video to be likeable, memorable… and also obvious and cutesy. Forget who you’re communicating to and be immediately reminded.
Well, who’s visiting? Who’s reading and sharing? Who’s watching and subscribing? And finally, who’s calling?
If you’re seeing disparities and disconnects, you need to remember that you know this stuff: marketing your consulting business has never been about click-throughs, impressions, or shares. It’s about the people behind them, what methods you have in place to get to know them, and–once you know them–how best you can serve their needs.