By now anyone who has even the most basic understanding of marketing realises that social media is becoming THE medium for marketing campaigns. All over the world people are logging in to connect with friends but are also regularly interacting with their favourite brands. Social media’s applications for businesses achieving their marketing outcomes centres around its incredible brand building capability, and the world’s largest companies are now allocating greater proportions of their marketing spend to nailing down the best online social media marketing strategies. Let’s look at the specific reasons why social media is becoming the new go-to platform for campaign execution:
Search engine optimisation, or SEO, is the process of altering websites in order to push them further towards the top of search engine result lists. Being at or near the top of a result list from a search engine like Google means your website is highly visible to online consumers. This is a huge goal of businesses when looking to increase their online presence and attract new markets from online channels. More and more consumers are looking online as part of the purchase process to research product alternatives. Currently, businesses from a range of segments are responding to this shift and using SEO to increase their web presence as a core element of overall marketing strategy.
The challenge facing marketers in the 21st century is cultivating meaningful 2-way relationships with consumers. The rapid advances in technology, most notably with social media, are putting pressure on brands to connect with and engage consumers like never before. Although there are more tools available today than ever before to facilitate this, it is often difficult to drill down how to actually go about developing interactive relationships to deliver value. So why is this such a big issue in marketing today? Basically, this pressure for brands to interact has been consumer-driven. There are two reasons that this is the case.
Building and maintaining close relationships with clients is perhaps the single most important feature of successful professional services marketing. Especially for many smaller scale firms, intentionally cultivating relationships can lead to enhanced trust, loyalty, referrals and positive word-of-mouth. All of these outcomes are absolute gold for professionals, and while maintaining client relationships can mean significant investment, a great relationship network will have a huge payoff for any business.
2. Target & Specialise
As a professional services provider, particularly for smaller scale businesses, you cannot hope to be all things to all people. Picking strategic and profitable segments of the market to target is vitally important for success in many professional services industries. Let’s be real; marketing is likely going to be a secondary priority to delivering the actual service, so it pays to be smart about the customers/clients you target to gain maximum profitability. Also, building expertise in strategic areas can build on your credibility as a professional and contribute to competitive advantages in specific service areas.
3. Going the extra mile
Ultimately, it is the quality of service that is going to dictate your success in a professional services market. It is therefore worth thinking about what extra ‘1%ers’ you can deliver to your clients to add unique value to your service offering. What does this look like? Really, it’s all about being on the front foot to identify the unmet needs of your clients as they arise. You might have experience from a history of working in specialist areas (such as criminal law or retirement-specific financial planning), comprehensive referral networks, or unique synergies across departments/other firms that may be valuable to your clients. Characteristics or capabilities similar to these will enhance your service offering and get you an edge on your competitors.
What I call the ‘Client Value Pyramid’ is a useful way of categorising clients to efficiently focus your marketing and business growth effort. This framework has been taught as a staple of marketing strategy and can be used across a range of different marketing contexts. It is well worth having in the back of your mind when assessing which of your existing clients to approach to grow their contribution to your revenue.