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Two birds sitting on a telephone wire.

Perfection is a Prison

 

Pete Machalek’s team at SagePresence does an amazing job preparing clients for stakeholder and prospect meetings. This month, we’re highlighting their vlog on the topic of being your authentic self. This includes letting your personality shine through in presentations. Don’t get hung up on the actual words you are trying to use, just remember the structure of your message when speaking off the cuff. You can also apply this to your process for creating a brand and the content marketing that ensues from that.

If you think you have to be perfect, you might be doing yourself a real disservice in your interviews and presentations because your audience isn’t necessarily looking for perfection – they’re looking for who you really are. In this vlog, Dean Lincoln Hyers, partner of SagePresence, shares tips on how to be authentic in your presentations and how that authenticity can help you win your audience over.

Dean Sage of SagePresence in a video about how perfection is a prison.

Originally published on sagepresence.com

Thanks, Pete, for letting us share Dean’s perspective. For more confidence-building and presentation tips, visit SagePresence.com.  

Read: Marketing to Real People in a Digital World
Woman in a long sleeved dark green shirt holding a white mug that says "like a boss" in black lettering.

One Way out of the Title Confusion

by Kate Harry Shipham, KHS People LLC

Woman in a long sleeved dark green shirt holding a white mug that says "like a boss" in black lettering.

We are starting a new segment where we feature blogs on hot topics by prominent CPA firm marketing consultants, recruiters and digital branding agencies we’ve partnered with to help grow both teams exponentially. This month, we found KHS People’s blog on the topic of title confusion quite… topical, so we are sharing Kate’s words of wisdom on the Ingenuity site – with permission, of course.

In a previous article, KHS People shared their market research about the causes as to why BD and marketing titles create confusion. 

One way out of this title confusion is to standardize titles and reset on the purpose and experience requirements for each level. This will look different for large and smaller firms, although, it doesn’t necessarily have to be.

Standardization

We hear this word frequently, but let’s hone in on what that would actually look like.

​This below uses a larger firm as an example:

Woman in a long sleeved dark green shirt holding a white mug that says "like a boss" in black lettering.

Makes sense. Keep going…

Now let’s take this one step further. 

​Consider for a moment if there was active management of this career path. This means clear decision points along the way to help the marketer play to their strengths. This benefits the marketer and the firm; more professional satisfaction makes for less turnover in firms. It is this turnover that has rocked the legal marketing industry since 2020. 

An example:

The first decision point could be relatively easy. It would also allow the firm and individual marketer to consciously discuss and decide on the type of Manager both think is appropriate.

The second shift is more significant and will likely mean a cultural shift for many. Having said this, it doesn’t have to mean “the addition of sales”. A far more subtle and finessed shift would be the better option for many. 

It does give both the firm and the marketer a more active and controlled role:

For the firm

  • Clear and defined titles avoid any confusion.
  • Different career paths are offered to help retain their team and align individual skills and strengths with the appropriate course.
  • The firm is innovative with respect to how it goes to market and how it engages and actively helps to manage its marketers.

For the marketer

  • Active management of one’s career creates ownership and a greater purpose.
  • Defined stages with each level resetting their specific purpose (and, arguably, some Specialist and Manager levels regaining credibility because of this newly defined purpose). 
  • Opting in or out of a fresh structure acknowledges how the career path of a marketer has changed. 

Originally published on khspeople.com

Thanks, Kate, for letting us share this amazing article. For more tips on recruiting and retention for law firms, visit KHS People.


Read On: For more recruiting and retention ideas for marketers, see our other blogs for more information.

 

 

Proactive Association Member Recruitment

Recruiting new members to a professional services association can be difficult. Ingenuity Marketing Group is here to help. Watch our video or read the transcript below to learn how to maximize your leads for new members and grow your organization.

We talk about creating a sense of urgency, personalizing your approach and more. Happy hunting!


If you prefer to read this content, the video transcript is below.

Associations are always on the hunt for new members. It’s a long process, but proactive recruitment can support your success.

Here are three ways that you can achieve more success and value from your recruitment efforts.

My first tip is to narrow your focus. Member marketing is very personal. Whether you use a lead qualifying service or do the prospecting on your own, your list should be highly targeted and well researched. Then start with 10 to 20 specific prospects for your strategy.

Next, develop a personalized approach to your communication. Potential members want to feel important. Your association should feel VIP to them.

For this strategy, don’t send a generic postcard or email to everyone at once. Instead, a handwritten note or a personal invitation to an event is much more successful.

And finally, once you have made contact, don’t wait more than a week or two to follow up. Create urgency for their response with a follow-up email that communicates your desire to have them as part of the association and how it will benefit them.

You can even leave a quick voicemail to make sure they received your personal invitation.

This is only the beginning of proactive recruitment. Then comes the hard part, getting them to join!

This can require several check-ins, little tokens of appreciation and ready-to-send resources. Set up these touches on your calendar so you don’t forget. Remember people like to be wooed.  It’s just like dating.

One more tip. Don’t be afraid to opt out if the lead isn’t going anywhere. You will know within a few months if it’s an opportunity or not. If not, add a fresh prospect to your list and move on.

In other words, don’t wait for potential members to come to you. Get out there and show them how much your association can help them.


Click here to find out how Ingenuity can market your Association.

INVITE US TO SPEAK

 

3 Marketing Mistakes Engineering Firms Make

When creating an elevator speech for networking purposes, we were taught to say our name, our role, the company and the services offered. Unfortunately, this habit of focusing on services has leaked into every area of marketing. Especially in professional services marketing, many firms end up looking and sounding the same.

Consider engineering firms. They can describe their engineering, design, surveying or consulting services, but that doesn’t give a potential client much differentiating value. Offering service descriptions is the number one mistake when marketing for engineering firms. This mistake is also why firm leaders don’t believe that websites support leads and business development.  

Digging into this mistake further, it’s not wrong to describe your services. Just don’t stop there. Collect and show evidence for your best-in-class services as part of consistent outcome-based research, strategic marketing and messaging.

Let’s look at two other mistakes that lead firms to fall back on service descriptions as their only form of marketing.

Mistake #2: Inconsistent Marketing

Inconsistent marketing can mean two things. It can mean that your marketing messages don’t match your actual deliverables and results. It can also mean that you only pursue marketing when you’re not busy with client work or chasing proposals.

Solve this mistake by investing in marketing with a designated budget that includes an in-house or outsourced marketing professional. In addition, this professional will focus most of the time on marketing with only a portion devoted to developing proposals. Following a consistent marketing plan tied to firm business goals is a great place to start.

To create your marketing plan, discuss your best-in-class results. Where do your clients derive the most value from your services? What problems and challenges do you solve regularly on projects? Who are your superstar professionals whose technical and management skills are lauded by clients? What are those skills?

Read: Competitive research for differentiation

As you look at what your firm does best beyond delivering projects on time and on budget, your messaging will emerge to support web copy, advertising and differentiation in your proposals.

In a recent series of client of client interviews we conducted, we heard competitive themes about the firm’s reputation among key government agencies for bringing stakeholders together on a project. That message certainly goes beyond service descriptions.

You can identify competitive differentiatiors when you invest in consistent research, marketing strategy and messaging that describes the outcomes you achieve.

Mistake #3: Not Tracking Project Results Along the Way

Because projects take months and even years to complete, it’s important to document positive outcomes throughout the project and keep your marketing professional in the loop. Too often, marketers are left trying to catch up at the close of a project when some of those amazing solutions and experiences are forgotten.

In the early stages and middle stages of projects, put your marketing hat on. You are listening for repeatable experiences that are unique to your team. Ask about ways that your team went above and beyond to solve a challenge or when they utilized a new process or material to manage the timeline or project budget.

Tip: Prepare your questions for a project debrief that include marketing questions.

Tip: Prepare your questions for a project debrief that include marketing questions.

Ideally, your marketing professional can brainstorm with project managers and technical professionals on challenges overcome, solutions delivered and new technologies utilized. Down the road, these progress reports will support a strong project case study, award submission or testimonials. In the meantime, progress reports can fuel stories for social media or blog posts! An in-progress image coupled with a short story about how your team is moving a project forward can provide the real-life evidence that enhances your traditional service descriptions.

For more tips on marketing for engineering firms, contact us at Ingenuity.

For more tips on marketing for engineering firms, contact us at Ingenuity.

GET TO KNOW THE TEAM!


 

Marketing Content and Sales Content: What’s the Difference?

Professional services firms and associations create marketing content and sales content to reach their goals. Marketing content builds credibility while sales content persuades and asks for new business. When should you use marketing content? When should you focus on sales content?

Communications Consultant Christine Nelson gives examples of marketing content and sales content in this video. You need both types of content, but learn why marketing and sales content are not the same thing! 


If you prefer to read this content, the video transcript is below.

What is the difference between marketing content and sales content? It is sometimes confusing to tell the difference, but there is a difference.

Marketing content is written to educate and interest your potential clients. It should offer a glimpse of your knowledge, your approach, and even your firm’s personality. You will see marketing content in blog posts and social posts, on your website’s homepage, and as part of your public relations.

When should you use marketing content? You should educate and engage your audience with marketing content when they are new visitors and as they begin to consider becoming a client or a member. Sales content, on the other hand, is about influence and persuasion. It’s written in a way to get your potential clients to take action. Sales content should share the features and benefits of working with your firm or association and then ask for a conversation, a download, or attendance.

Persuasive sales content is for prospects that are deeper into their consideration. It can be in the form of sales sheets that discuss the features and benefits of your service or an assessment for a nominal fee. While marketing content establishes your credibility, sales content gets specific about your desire to work with new clients and why you are the best option.

Often marketing content and sales content work together, especially when you can’t talk to your leads in person. For example, a blog post can educate a visitor about new legislation, but at the end of the blog post you can include some sales content to invite the visitor to have a conversation or to explore your services further through an assessment. After you host marketing events such as a seminar, your sales content could be the carefully-written emails that encourage a conversation with your team.

As you can see, marketing and sales content should work together, but they aren’t the same. If you have questions about how to create the right balance between marketing and sales content, contact us at Ingenuity.

Here is an example of branding messages woven into an ad campaign for credibility and prospecting.

INVITE US TO SPEAK


 

Accounting Marketing Campfire: Content Marketing Trends

Recently, we served as the subject matter experts on a virtual networking call with the national Association for Accounting Marketing.

We picked up some tips and trends for accounting firm marketing to share with you. Here they are in no particular order:

Use content marketing scheduling tools.

Many of the accounting marketers discussed their approach to scheduling content and making sure they have a plan each month, especially when last-minute content is added.

Tools mentioned included a separate calendar in Outlook to coordinate their team and to plot in content deadlines. Others use project workflow tools such as Monday.com and Airtable.

For some marketers, it helps to create a theme for the month or quarter, tied to your marketing keywords or to the firm’s business goals. Then address the types of content you will create and how often each month.

How many blog posts is the right amount per month? We advised that frequency of any content is less important than the quality of content and your firm’s marketing goals. You will learn how frequently you should post and promote new content by what your analytics are telling you through the year. Let that data inform how you schedule content for the coming year.

Plus, it’s ok to repeat content for people who may have missed it the first time!

Make content creation competitive or required.

Marketers still struggle with the age-old challenge of getting their practice leaders or technical experts to help them develop new content, let alone write it, create a video or participate in a podcast.

The Association for Accounting Marketing members had some great answers for that issue. One idea is to make it a competition and instill the fear of missing out (FOMO) among different practice groups. Another is to request content from directors or managers rather than busy partners, those in your firm who are eager to establish their own reputations and books of business.

A final idea is to have content creation required. Top leadership can direct this activity as part of the firm culture. If each leader contributed an idea or article a month, marketing would be a whole lot easier.

Repurpose. Repurpose. Repurpose.

Once accounting marketers get ideas and/or content from the subject matter experts, they all agreed that their job is to use that content in as many ways as possible. A blog post can become a speaking topic or magazine pitch. A video script can become a blog post. A longer video can be mined for micro-video clips to share on social media, and the audio portion can become a podcast.

When practice group leaders realize that one small effort can produce massive visibility for their team, they may be more willing to offer ideas and keep the party going.

Be mindful of the experts’ preferences because some of them are better at writing while others have a great personality for video and presentations. Play to their strengths, and they will gain confidence.

Hire a business ghostwriter.

It was interesting to learn that most mid-sized accounting firms have a ghostwriter on call to help them produce the volume of content they need each month. It makes sense from a capacity standpoint, but also for the ease of interviewing subject matter experts.

The accounting marketers said that you need a professional to draw out the ideas and key points from the practice group. Your technical experts have the knowledge, but an experienced ghostwriter is focused on the marketing angle and your audience.

READ: How to develop a content marketing strategy

The Association for Accounting Marketing is the principal organization for accounting firm marketing in the U.S., and their annual conference is anticipated and actively attended. It was a privilege to participate in their “campfire” conversation about content marketing for accounting firms.

Your content marketing approach can benefit by taking time to network with other marketing leaders. At the very least, you can learn what other marketers are doing to solve common challenges, such as getting your practice leaders to create content!

Take time for networking opportunities, and let us know if you have any questions about content marketing or ghostwriting services.

You may also like our blog post about virtual networking.


 

A large sandwich.

Social Media Marketing That’s ‘Snackable’

We don’t know how your schedule looks lately, but it seems to be heating up around here. That means less time and attention to posts and emails that aren’t directly tied to work or families. 

It’s the perfect time to reinvent your social media marketing strategy. We have these trends and tips to help you grab attention as prospects scan your channels. 

‘Snackable’ Social Content

‘Snackable’ is the new marketing term. People are tired of being online, and they want quick, clear content that is easily consumed and shared. We’re talking about inspiring quotes with cool images, posts that include animation and short video clips that take seconds to view. 

To apply snackable social media to engineering firm, accounting firm or other professional services marketing, here are a few tips: 

Tip #1: When creating social media posts, build your image in an app like Canva and make use of their free library of animated gifs to add to your post.

Woman smiling with her arms raised in a sea of confetti.

Example: We added a confetti gif image over the static best workplaces image to catch attention.

Tip #2: Use inspiring quotes as part of your weekly social posting to showcase your firm’s core values or culture.

An example of a inspiring quote.

Here at Ingenuity, we liked this quote because it spoke about intelligence and relationships which are part of our firm’s core strengths.

Tip #3: Include snackable video clips edited down from longer videos with a quick message that people can consume and use right away.

In this example, we took a longer video with five tips and focused on the color palette tip. The shorter clip can play live over and over on social channels. It promotes services in a new way, and it re-uses content you have already created. 

Other Social Media Marketing for Professional Service Firms

Of course, your posts are only helpful for professional service branding and marketing if people actually see them! You need to focus on your number of followers, how often they like or comment on your posts and if they share them. 

Start by encouraging your own team members to like and share your firm’s content. This expands your social media reach by getting in front of the networks of each team member. That can represent thousands of new possible connections and followers on your company pages. This works because your team members probably have connections in target industries that could use your services. Plus, personal posts get better social media ranking than your company page posts. 

You can also boost your social engagement by mentioning or “tagging” a client, a referral source or your connections. Just make sure the tagging relates to the social post. People don’t want to be tagged if the post doesn’t relate to them. 

For example, in the Best Workplaces post we showed you, you could tag the media company that gave your firm the award. The media outlet will appreciate the shout-out, and they might even like, comment or share your post!

Increased likes, follows and comments – engagement – with your posts helps your firm or association rank higher on social channels as an influencer. When those busy potential clients flip through their social feeds, they won’t pass you by!

Learn more about Ingenuity’s social media strategies and creative insights. You may also be interested in How to Use Social Media for Leads.


 

Male hand holding a small block with the words "Strategy" on it.

Strategic Marketing is Not Administration

Professional service firm leaders who choose to outsource their marketing can fall into the seductive trap of hiring agencies that don’t know the first thing about marketing professional services — or the sophistication of your firm’s clients. What’s worse, larger agencies may assign a junior account manager who doesn’t understand proactive marketing consulting.

On the other hand, many firms that are heavily dependent on billable hours may choose to invest in marketing at the entry level. They hire someone with two to five years of experience. Without an experienced marketing professional driving the approach, your strategy and planning lose ground to urgent administrative tasks like assembling proposals or taking random pictures for social media.

We’ve also worked with firms that delegate marketing oversight to their firm administrator, operations executive or a partner/principal. These professionals are amazing at their core jobs, and they may even be interested in marketing. But they can’t prioritize marketing due to time constraints and a lack of knowledge about creative marketing strategy.

Marketing Solutions for Professionals

Here is why strategic marketing is not administration. A full-service marketing department should be able to accomplish the following things:

  • Senior-level consulting, design and writing, digital marketing, advertising and social skills
  • Effective and proactive project management with timelines, accountability and communication
  • Support for hiring new staff at the right time with proper job descriptions
  • Consulting with owners/partners regularly to develop a marketing/sales culture
  • Liaison with vendors to streamline and/or automate your marketing strategy
  • Market research to understand how your buyers buy
  • Industry-wide view of marketing trends to expand your options and creativity
  • Alignment of marketing activities with sales goals
  • Consistent branding on all materials and channels
  • Consistent lead generation and nurturing activities and monitoring
  • Coaching to build in-house marketing skills
  • Proactive consulting on next steps to maximize marketing efforts

A firm with limited in-house marketing support or an executive who is managing marketing will need to seek other solutions to deliver these full-service results. To continue with the status quo will lead to frustration, loss of visibility or scattered business efforts.

Marketing is not about the leads and new business you have now. Just like project planning and accurate financial statements, marketing planning is vital for attracting future business. Can you afford to just hope that leads and referrals appear in your competitive market? Stay visible with consistent marketing strategy and professionals who specialize in it.

LEARN MORE ABOUT INGENUITY’S OUTSOURCED MARKETING SERVICES


 

 

A freeway sign showing outsource and in-house directions on sign

3 Times Your Marketing Team May Need an Outside Specialist

More professional service firms today are investing in experienced marketing teams led by chief marketing officers (CMOs). Some of these leaders are even getting the opportunity to become shareholders while leading teams that range from designers and content specialists to digital marketing managers, proposal teams and analysts.

Even so, there are times on larger marketing teams when an outside perspective is necessary for the following three reasons:

  • Time constraints
  • Independent analysis and insights
  • Creative inspiration

Depending on the project, all three areas can come into play. For success, you need relationships with consultants who understand professional services marketing and the sophistication of the clients you serve.

#1 Time Constraints for Marketing Strategy

When your team is already busy, taking on the challenge of a new website or a niche campaign project can feel overwhelming. The firm has determined these goals for the coming year, and you already know that time is not on your side.

Another challenge that can occur is during turnover on your team. You lose a key professional, and your rhythm is thrown off until someone can be hired. This is the perfect time to draw from your connections already developed with outsourced professionals. It’s not the time to take a chance on an agency that’s untried in your industry.

#2 Independent Analysis and Recommendations

Sometimes your team is too close to your marketing strategy or branding to get a clear perspective on what’s happening with analytics, content or client perceptions. Projects such as website or SEO audits, third-party client or referral research and analysis of the data can bring broader recommendations to support your strategy.

In addition, my may outsource projects such as client surveys and niche industry research to support broader promotion and participation as well as independent analysis and recommendations that leaders can feel confident about sharing in a final report.

#3 Igniting your Creative Inspiration

This third reason is not needed as frequently as the other two, but at times visual creativity can fix wordy proposals, website copy and marketing collateral. Bringing in a fresh perspective can help you communicate your value visually and in fewer words.   

Entire processes and approaches can be rendered visually as infographics. Core values can be illustrated with icons. There are many ways to go beyond bullet points and subheadings when you collaborate with a fresh design team that understands professional services marketing.

Marketing Solutions for Professionals

When you determine that your marketing team could use an outside specialist, you will need to consider:

  • The flexibility of your marketing budget and a reasonable fee for the level of project
  • Your role in the project as a marketing leader and how much to delegate to your team and to the outsourced specialist
  • The desired timeline for starting and finalizing the project, and any room for flexibility
  • How you will define success for your team and the specialist in order to measure results
  • The communications strategy with firm leaders on why you need a specialist for the project
  • An understanding of next steps with the final project and how the outside specialist can ensure effective implementation and ROI.

A firm with a large marketing team may find it harder to justify bringing on an outside marketing specialist unless you factor these considerations ahead of proposing it to the firm. Even if outsourcing is already built into your marketing budget, make sure to map out your purpose and collaboration from day one so that everyone is on the same page.

Marketing is not about the leads and new business you have now. Just like project planning and accurate financial statements, marketing planning is vital for attracting future business. Can you afford to just hope that leads and referrals appear in your competitive market? Stay visible with consistent marketing strategy and engaging professionals who specialize in it.

LEARN MORE ABOUT INGENUITY’S OUTSOURCED MARKETING SERVICES


 

A purple cow standing out in a field of other cows.

Copywriting: Is Your Content a Purple Cow?

Could three questions really help you get more compelling stories for your website content and content marketing? Communications Consultant Christine Nelson uses her journalism mojo to find those great stories hiding among your professionals and your work with clients. If your content marketing could use better storytelling, this is a must-see video.


If you prefer to read this content, the video transcript is below.

An accountant I interviewed quite a few years ago told me a story about slinging pizzas for his client. He had stopped into the restaurant on a very busy night. He wanted to help, and that night the client needed him to make pizzas. And so he did!

You can bet the client was grateful and stayed with that CPA. And that’s a Purple Cow story.

Purple cow is defined by Seth Godin, a US entrepreneur and bestselling author, as delivering a remarkable experience with your product or service. It’s fresh. It’s unexpected. It’s a first.

But mostly we get brown cows when we visit websites…the same old “quality service and dedicated team and responsive delivery”…and it’s why most firms can’t get lead conversion on their websites.

What if, instead, you were able to stand apart from the brown cows? Few professionals do it because it’s easier to talk about your services and not your extraordinary experiences for clients.

You need to find the real story behind the services.

Just this week, I was talking to a professional about audit services. You might think it’s the brownest cow there is. But as I asked more questions, this auditor got pretty animated. He wasn’t talking about audits. He was talking about the outcome his clients wanted and how the audited financial statements took them there.

I want to hear and write that story.  Don’t you?

To get started, here is a simple formula I use to draw out that purple cow story. Ask these three questions:

Who has it helped?

Why does it matter?

Why do others need that kind of solution?

Answering these questions gets you out of the brown cow writing and into a more direct answer to the solutions that your website’s visitors are searching for. Try it with your next eblast or blog post, and send me the link here at Ingenuity for a quick Purple Cow review!

CONTACT US AT INGENUITY ABOUT BUSINESS GHOSTWRITER SERVICES

See an example of technical engineering data transformed into our client’s project success story.