We conduct multiple client surveys and interviews every year to help professional service firms improve their brand loyalty.Based on our research, the top two reasons that clients leave a professional service firm is that they don’t feel valued and they don’t perceive value from the relationship.
If you find yourself in this situation at your firm: straying clients, unhappy clients, bad reviews or certain disciplines that don’t handle client service as well as others, it may be time for team training on your client service standards as well as a refresh on your brand positioning. Help everyone serve clients consistently well.
To get you started, here are four baseline behaviors that every professional who directly works with clients should exhibit with every client encounter.
We understand that some people don’t find small talk particularly easy. But your clients expect a certain level of check-in or friendliness when you communicate. Start calls or meetings by asking about their week, showing interest in them as people.
You will quickly see if clients appreciate a few minutes of settling into the meeting and also when they want to get right down to business. Keep their preferences in mind for the next time you meet.
As a professional service provider, there is no excuse for disorganization. Before a meeting, build in 15 minutes of time to prep for the agenda, understand the goals for the day or week, see who is part of the meeting and who is responsible for each item on the to-do list. If you have trouble keeping a calendar, identify an app or assistant that can remind you with notifications or alarms for the most important meetings.
Even if you are in the field, make use of mobile devices and previous notes toprepare for an efficient conversation with clients. Be the keeper of details. That way, your clients can easily move from your meeting to the next one.
Set clear deadlines.
Before you set a deadline, make sure that it makes sense for the client as well as for your team. There is nothing worse than setting an unrealistic deadline or accepting a client’s deadline when you know it won’t work. Speak up and work out a compromise.
Frequently missed deadlines won’t garner much favor with clients. Avoid setting up yourself or your team for failure. Understand the realities of time to deliver quality work in the midst of competing projects and the unexpected.
With these things in mind, organize the timeline with a mental goal of delivery BEFORE the deadline. It will help set realistic expectations with clients.
After every honest effort, if you can’t meet a deadline, speak up. In our research, we find that if clients simply hear regularly from their professional service providers on project progress, they are more accepting of delays. Communicate honestly and often about issues so they can be a partner in the process.
Determine the client’s preferred method of communication. Do they like when you pick up the phone or not? Try providing a summary of outstanding items or questions in one email. That way, they don’t have to scan through multiple emails or messages. If you use voicemail, be clear on what you need. Unless you know the client really well and they prefer it, avoid leaving a message that just says, “call me back.”
Be respectful of the client’s time and money. When it comes down to it, they are trusting you to deliver value and help them reach their goals. Show them that you value them, too! It will enhance your brand positioning.
It’s coming. Voice search SEO is gaining traction because it is easier to speak to a voice search assistant than it is to type on a mobile device. If a quarter to one-third of your website traffic are mobile users, consider optimizing your site for voice search. Voice searches are conversational and often involves a question. This changes how your web content should be written, including page headlines.
2. Website ADA Compliance
Our Lead Designer and Web Developer, Robert Wasiluk, recommends making sure your website is ADA compliant. With 19 percent of the U.S. population identified as having a disability, major search engines as well as adaptive screen readers employ web crawling methods according to the WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines). Don’t miss out on these potential clients/referrals.
3. Leverage CRM and Marketing Automation
Few firms are using their CRMs or automation tools to their full potential. Start with the basics: fully invest in the eblast tools within your CRM of choice or an outside product like MailChimp or Constant Contact. The tool Zapier can even help connect these outside tools to your CRM. (We are not paid to suggest these tools; we just happen to use them ourselves!) Try to automate frequent communications that will save time for your team, from calendar scheduling to monthly or quarterly marketing communications.
4. Revisit Former/Inactive Contact Lists
Last month, Ingenuity sent emails to former clients, some from several years ago. The result was two new proposals! Never underestimate the value of staying in touch. If you are an association, customize a message to inactive members. Firms can tap into their database and sort by date of engagement.
5. Personalize Your Messaging
In a world of big data that tries to answer every consumer whim before you even know you want it, your messages as professionals must also add a personal touch. Write like a human and have your firm communications come from a human. Individual social profiles and automated emails from partners and executives get far better engagement and open rates.
Spam is getting smarter. Your firm must work harder to ensure that clients are opting into your newsletters and eblasts. But what about prospects? This video will help you ensure that emails are personal and informative — and not annoying to the people you want to reach.
In this video, Leah Spielman, marketing consultant, shares five tips for lead generation. We’ll talk about subject lines, pre-header text and great headlines as well as how often you should communicate. Watch to get five tips that can improve your email marketing.
If you prefer to read the content, the transcript is below.
It is imperative that your e-mail communications are personal and informative. Spam is getting smarter and end users are overloaded with e-mail. So, to ensure that your e-mails are engaging, I have a few tips for you.
Number one: test your audience. If your email tool allows for A/B testing, try it! Write 2 different subject lines. I like to run the test on 50% of the audience. The winning subject line is sent to the remaining 50%. We recently did an A/B test and it turns out the title of the main article as the subject line won over saying ìInGenius Review ñ June 2019î. Take what you learn and use it for future e-mails .
Number two: Utilize pre-header text! This is a great way to tell the reader what to expect when they open your email. Use it to promote another topic from your e-mail.
Number three: Talk about the recipient. Why does it matter for them? How are they impacted? Use ìYour Key Tax Considerations for 2019î as a subject line instead of ìOur important tax tips for 2019.î
Number four: Be consistent. Whatever you do, donít just do it once and except your audience to engage. Start small and be consistent ñ send a quarterly e-newsletter with a main article and then a client focus or highlight piece. When that is going well, add in monthly e-newsletters that focus on industry news and topics your audience cares about.
Number five: Use automation. Even the most basic e-mail tools have automation features including welcome series emails, follow-up emails and segmentation. Start small and set up a series of 3 e-mails to introduce new clients to your firm. An advanced e-mail marketing system like Hubspot, Infusionsoft or Marketo have more advanced automation features such as lead scoring.
E-mail marketing is a powerful tool when used correctly. It allows you direct access to your audience without a lot of algorithms getting in the way. Use these tips to bring your e-mail marketing to the next level.
This multi-part digital marketing whitepaper will tell you HOW to use digital marketing tools specifically for professional services. Read any section for ideas on your biggest concern or interest. We’ll keep adding sections, so come back and see what’s new or sign up for our newsletter to receive updates to your inbox.
Digital marketing has evolved as a way to attract — and track — online buyers by delivering specific content for their problems or interests. To be successful, you need to understand:
How potential clients are searching for your services;
How to compete for strong online search results;
What types of content will attract the most interest;
How you can get qualified visitors to take action, and;
How to nurture great leads toward actual new firm business.
Let’s be clear. More than 90 percent of visitors to your site are searching for a solution, but need convincing to contact your firm. Digital marketing content and SEO are critical to keep them interested and keep your firm top of mind.
Firms that are operating on outdated web platforms or with old design templates are missing some critical opportunities. When referred to a new firm, many prospects go first to the website. When seeking a new job, candidates often head to the website to learn about the culture. An old website can do more harm to your firm’s image than ever before.
If your website looks staid, boring, and “template-like,” that one chance to make a great first impression is over. The key to great websites is to think through who will use it, how they will use it and how to communicate your services and unique culture and the value you bring.
Before you write one word or design one page, consider what you want your website to do based on how the audience will use it. Do you want it to speak primarily to prospects or recruits? Is it an information service for clients? Do you want to get leads from your website?
Making it pretty is not enough. Be clear about your target market and what you want to communicate to them. When we work with clients on a website, we like to establish some key messages about the firm that can act as a guide for content. This sets a tone and ensures that the firm’s website isn’t cookie cutter.
Writing copy for websites is different than writing for a proposal or marketing flier. Use a professional writer who has experience with websites, as well as one who understands your industry. Have that person write the sections that matter most: your Home Page, Services, About Us and key leader and staff bios. If you are having trouble recruiting, hire a writer to add some snap to your career pages. If your firm is moving into a specialized niche, work with a writer to develop key messages and web content that helps your firm rise above your competitors.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Getting on top of search results organically is a process that requires strategy and patience. There are many ways to build an SEO friendly website to provide better rankings on Google and other search engines.
Choose keywords that are unique to your business. Brainstorm these words and phrases in your website committee and make sure they are used frequently in your site content. Consider working with an SEO specialist to find keywords and phrases to get additional possibilities and performance forecasts.
Try to establish external links to your website. Have your company name posted on organization websites to which you belong, contribute articles to trade sites, and allow relevant websites to link directly to yours. Just having your company name listed on another website can help boost your ranking.
Update your content regularly. At Google, fresh content is a key factor in search rankings.
Develop page titles, descriptions and meta tags with your keywords in them. Meta tags are the words that show up at the top of each web page and the title and description show your audience what that page is all about when it shows up in search engine results.
It’s no longer a matter of IF you are on social media platforms, but how well you do it. It has virtually become a requirement for firms to engage through social media. A good social media strategy can help you retain clients, find prospects and recruit talent by increasing brand awareness and building trust. Social media can also boost your online visibility and organic search rankings.
To build an effective social strategy, the first step it to determine which platforms your audience is on and what content will drive engagement with them. Just because a firm down the street is having success on Twitter it doesn’t mean that you will also have the same measure of success. It’s important to do a bit of research to see where your current clients and prospects are spending their time online.
Next determine the type of content you will provide through your social channels. Understand the needs and goals of your clients and prospects and show them how you can help them.
They key is not simply to look at social media as something you must to do, but as a powerful tool to help you achieve brand awareness and firm growth.
Everyone wants to rank high on Google but sometimes your digital marketing strategies can use a little boost. Digital ad strategies, such as Google Ads or promoted posts on social media, can be a powerful tool in your online visibility and lead generation strategy.
In order to harness the immense power available through paid ads, start by clearly defining your target audience. Who are they and what do they need? The more accurately you can identify your audience and their needs, the more targeted your ads can be, providing quality leads that have a higher potential for conversion. If you are unsure how to determine who your target audience is, take a look at your current clients.
The next step is to figure out what makes you unique. Since your competitors have services similar to yours in similar industries, you need to identify what it is that makes you stand out from them. How can you inspire your audience to engage with you? Addressing your client’s needs in conjunction with your unique value to them through your ad headlines and content, can boost engagement on your ad. Finally, offer your audience some information or a resource to download that addresses their needs on some level.
Be sure to include a form fill feature to capture their information so you can follow up with them after they receive your downloadable resource.
Once you have all your digital marketing tools in place, remember to monitor the analytics and track the effectiveness of your efforts. Above all, remain agile so you can adjust what isn’t working, as well and do more of what is working.
Research and Strategy
Types of Research and Why You Need Research
According to an informal poll we conducted of professional service firm marketers, we found that they spend time researching industries, but not much time researching their competitors or prospects. Without researching your competitors, you don’t know how to differentiate your value proposition against theirs in conversations or in proposals. Thorough research can provide insights into your competitors, clients and prospects and identify opportunities for your firm.
Some of the types of research we see include:
Market Research: This can be used to identify market opportunities and threats within your industry, niches and geographic markets. It can provide you with information on the trends that shape demand for your services. It can also alert you to any threats, such as a new firm coming into the market or industries that are over represented, that may affect your firm.
Competitor Analysis: This type of research can help you determine where your competitors have an advantage in the market. You can also identify the areas in which your firm excels above your competitors so that you can continue doing what is working to attract talent to your firm, retain clients and get new leads.
Client Satisfaction: Through client research, you can identify gaps in services, industries or niches. You can find out if clients perceive your firm’s reputation and value the same way you do. Client based research can also help you identify what is working with your clients, as well as any areas of improvement. You can then take what is working and apply it to attract new clients to your firm.
There are many types of research and ways that it can be used to benefit a professional services firm. The type you choose to conduct will depend on your firm’s goals.
Why You Need Research
Understanding the challenges and opportunities for your firm, can guide your strategies for greater firm success. High quality research will help you attain the growth you desire through the development of strategies that produce results.
For example, if you don’t research your prospects, you don’t truly know what they care about or how they expect professional service advisors to solve their problems. Understanding their challenges helps you guide their decision to choose your firm rather than a competitor. It helps you begin to understand how your communication needs to change to land referrals, increase visibility and get new business.
Another way research can help is when you are determining the need to expand your services into a new niche. After researching other firms serving that niche in your market, you may find that only one of your competitors also serves that niche. You need to discern if the niche is sustainable as a growth industry, the level of competition and the potential to gain a significant portion of the market without being the lowest cost provider. This allows you to develop a deeply focused niche marketing strategy to stay visible to your prospects. Market research goes a long way toward defining your true niches.
Regardless of whether you are looking to expand into a new market, understand why your clients remain loyal or looking to gain a competitive edge over other firms, research provides the insight that allows your firm to make decisions that drive growth and success.
How to Analyze your Research to Approach Content Correctly
There is great value in conducting research and getting objective feedback. If you find areas in which your firm is excelling with prospects, existing clients and employees, you will want to maintain and improve what you are doing and then replicate this success in other areas of your firm. Should you find that you have a disconnect between the perception others have and how you think your firm should be viewed, this enables you to identify areas of improvement to bridge that perception gap and build your reputation. It’s not enough to simply conduct surveys and interviews, the next step is to analyze the feedback and identify trends and areas of opportunity. Then it’s time to develop a content marketing strategyto improve upon what’s working and fix areas that need fixing.
Market research and surveys can include both online feedback and phone, or in-person, interviews. With a sufficient number of responses and feedback, trends will become noticeable and point to what action you can take. It can be hard to obtain honest feedback if the surveys and interviews are conducted by a member of your own firm. If you want honesty, we recommend outsourcing this to a market research companythat understands your industry and can help you translate the results into a content marketing strategy.
In the case of a client survey, you will receive insights on how your clients view your firm and can then gauge if this aligns with expectations. We recently conducted a client survey for one of our accounting firm clients. During phone interviews, we found out that while they offered a number of services that were relevant to their clients and referral sources, the firm had not been doing a good job of communicating these services. By identifying this area of opportunity, the firm can now develop content and communication strategies to inform their clients and prospects about the depth of their services.
Through an employee survey, you can determine if you are meeting the expectations of employees and find out if there are any areas of improvement to increase employee retention and attract new talent to your professional services firm. If you find out that your employees do not feel that they are well-supported in the area of training and development, this could be improved by offering training and opportunities, mentorship programs and certification incentives. It’s not enough to simply provide this, it also needs to be clearly communicated to your employees through emails and on your website.
If you are new to a specific industry or niche, in-depth market researchcan identify the pains, desires and interests of prospects. By knowing what these are, it will allow you to develop a digital marketing strategythat positions you as a knowledgeable resource.
As you develop your content, address the pains of your specific audience and provide a solution that compels them to continue reading, and eventually, contact you. When you publish an interesting blog post, create an opportunity for additional interactions through links to resources and more information. Can they download a whitepaper or read another blog post? Can you direct them to a case study, client story or video testimonial? These don’t simply tell them you can address their pains, but shows them how you have done this before.
This strategy can work for your website, email nurturing sequences and social media content. Employing a strategy that encompasses the entire spectrum of your digital marketing creates brand cohesiveness and consistent messaging to your prospects, clients and employees.
Content that Drives Brands and Leads
Using your Blog and Social Platforms for Brand Loyalty and Lead Generation
Now that you have done the research to know what your prospects want to hear from you and have created your list of keywords and phrases, you’re ready to start using those tools to drive your brand positioning and develop leads.
The first step is to determine the purpose of your blog — which services, industries and niches do you want to promote and why are you convinced that people need this information from your firm specifically? How will the information and insights you provide help solve the pains of your audience? What type of content you will publish? Whether you use written articles, videos, podcasts or any other medium you can dream up, commit to a frequency your visitors can count on for each type. Consistency is key! When people come to rely on your insights, you become an authority for those services you offer for the industries and niches you serve. This leads to referrals because of your knowledge and because you have created trust with your audience.
Try to strike a balance between providing valuable information without giving away the store. Don’t take a sales approach because that isn’t inspiring. Give them enough to whet their appetite so they are compelled to call you.
You can use your social media platforms to inform your followers about content your have published. Through the use of relevant hashtags and any posts that your followers share, you can expand your audience reach. Your social platforms should also be used to share your capabilities and services. It’s a form of communication where you can control the message. Keep in mind that you don’t have to share everything you publish across every platform. Some social media accounts are best used for certain types of brand positioning efforts. For example, one client we work with uses their Facebook company page to highlight firm culture through more casual firm news, events and job postings.
Consider developing both content and social media calendars to keep you accountable for creating content and posting on your social platforms. Calendars can also help create a focus to strategically use your keywords to boost your SEO rankings for specific services, industries and niches. Additionally, if you have multiple employees in your marketing department at your professional services firm, this allows everyone on the team to know what the objectives are for the upcoming months.
Content development for your blog and social media platforms is something that takes consistency to create strong brand positioning and begin to develop leads. Focus first on how your brand is represented and the leads will follow.
Gated Content for Lead Generation
What is Gated Content?
One of the best ways to use content marketing to attract leads is through gated content. Gated content is simply a downloadable marketing piece that shares valuable information your audience cares about. In exchange for receiving this download, the user fills out some basic information including name, organization and e-mail address. It is often times called a lead magnet, inbound marketing, lead generation, or attractor.
Since you’ve already established through research who your audience is and what they care about and developed blog content around these topics, it’s time to dive deeper and create gated content.
Examples of Gated Content for Professional Services Marketing
To use gated content for lead generation, you first have to identify what your prospect is willing to exchange their e-mail address for. For an accounting firm focused on construction accounting, it may be a 1-page guide to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Acts impact on the construction industry. The guide should include a few key points, and be aesthetically pleasing (read: it should be professionally designed to match your firm’s brand standards.) Once the gated content is complete, you can determine how to distribute it to your prospects. You can use paid search, organic and paid social media, e-mail marketing and/or your website. In order for any of these methods to be truly effective, a well-devised SEO strategy is recommended.
To use gated content for lead nurturing, you can create a download/attractor and distribute it to your current clients and prospects. You will then learn who is interested in the topic and can move them through the sales funnel appropriately.
For one client – call him Robert – we conducted industry research in a niche they are heavily involved in. Then, we published a report and created a landing page for the report. We pushed the report and landing page out to the firm’s contacts via e-mail, and encouraged the contact to download the full report by visiting the landing page.
The prospect then downloads the report and Robert receives a list weekly of all the prospects who have downloaded the report. We then coach Robert on follow-up steps which usually include a follow-up e-mail to everyone who downloaded it. The e-mail will say something along the lines of:
“Hi Sarah, I saw you downloaded our Very Valuable Report. Did you see, on page 9, that industry leaders are concerned about the rising costs of Widgets and Expenses? Do you have similar concerns? I wrote a blog post recently about this exact topic – check it out here. Talk to you soon. – Robert”
Sarah then reads the blog post and replies, and our client and Sarah have the opportunity to engage in conversation, and the firm stays in front of their prospect, is viewed as a thought leader and has gained more insights into their prospective client’s concerns.
When Sarah has a need, she remembers Robert knows all about this topic and she contacts him. The firm then has the chance to propose on a project.
To summarize, gated content can help you determine what resonates with your clients and prospects and can be an effective lead generation tool. It is only as effective as the effort to develop it and to nurture those leads once they have downloaded the resource you provided to them. Be sure that you build a solid strategy around your gated content in order to maximize its potential for your firm.
Driving Lead Generation through Assessments and Surveys
Previously we discussed that assessments and surveys are an important element in a firm’s marketing strategy and how they provide valuable information that can help your firm make sound decisions. But how can you use these tools to drive lead generation? Glad you asked!
There are a number of resources available to administer an assessment. These resources create interactive content that are fun and, while the specific features of each vary, the most useful of these resources aggregate the results in an easy to read format that saves you time and allows you to analyze the results quickly.
To make your surveys and assessments valuable and efficient, clearly define your goals. This allows you to develop a strategy that gets the information you are looking for from your prospects. With your strategy clearly defined, you can formulate questions that are concise and will provide you with valuable insights about your prospects. Some online assessment tools will allow you to create “if this, then that” scenarios. For example, if a prospect answers a question a certain way, they receive a follow-up question to dig a bit deeper. Remember, with any lead generation assessment, you need to be sure that you are capturing your prospect’s contact information.
Depending on your objective and the nature of your assessment, consider having an offer that can be emailed to the participant after they complete it. Even if it’s something you plan to send in your follow-up email, providing this offer up-front could help increase engagement on your assessment, resulting in more leads.
So, how does this drive lead generation?
Well-done assessments and surveys create an opportunity for a two-way conversation. Prospects share qualifying information with you, and you provide personalized follow-up that helps them solve their pains.
The most effective assessments help firms learn about prospective buyers, and customers learn about themselves and the firm’s solutions and services. Assessments can help you spot your most qualified leads and capture them when they are ready to buy.
One critical mistake we often see firms make is that once they get a prospect’s information, they follow-up with a phone call or one email thinking that is enough. They don’t have an effective strategy to convert their prospects into clients. If this sounds like you, don’t miss our next post where we discuss how automation, lead scoring and email nurturing sequences play a role in your firm’s marketing strategy.
Using Automation Tools to Measure Digital Marketing Effectiveness
Gone are the days of simply placing an ad in the newspaper or mailing out a flier while waiting weeks to see how it resonates with your audience. With today’s digital marketing automation tools, you can get vital information in front of your clients and dig into the analytics to see if they saw value in what you provided.
There are many automation tools that you can implement to automate your digital marketing and provide you with numbers that help you quantify your ROI. With a few simple tools, you can promptly and efficiently address your clients and prospects’ concerns and know if you are hitting the mark.
Social Media Automation Tools
As we stated before, it’s not a matter of IF your firm is using social media, but how well you do it. There are countless social platform tools to help automate posting through scheduled posts and evergreen content. We use a few of these tools with our clients that allow us to efficiently implement their social media strategy and measure the engagement and ROI.
Through the analytics available in social media management tools and on the individual platforms, you can determine which posts resonate with your audience with allows you to create more of those posts to further engage your audience. In addition, you can identify the content that your audience isn’t interested in so you can refocus your time.
Email Marketing and Measuring Leads
Email marketing has evolved and the tools to automate this area of your strategy are very sophisticated.
Consider setting up a new client welcome series – a series of 3 – 5 emails that showcase your team and set expectations for working together. Show off your firm’s personality. The more advanced your tool is, the more features that are available. For example, a system like Hubspot, Infusionsoft or Marketo have lead scoring available. MailChimp has lead scoring, too.
What is lead scoring?
Simply put, this is the action of applying points to leads. It allows you to rank leads in order to determine their sales-readiness. Leads are score based on their activities, such as opening an email, clicking a link, or completing a web form.
Automation tools can help you implement your marketing strategy in a more efficient way. When your content and resources can be developed and set to go out on a schedule, it frees up your team to focus on other marketing efforts for your professional services firm.Measuring the engagement of these automated efforts provides real-time information, giving you with the opportunity to adjust your strategy as needed to boost the effectiveness, build brand awareness and bring in leads to your firm. Be sure that you build a solid strategy around your automated digital marketing in order to maximize its potential for your firm.
Digital Marketing Analytics that Drive Strategy
Now that your website is optimized for search engines, content is regularly posted, and social media is humming along, it’s time to measure the efforts of your newfound digital marketing prowess.
The good news is that there is a lot of information available to analyze your marketing effectiveness and ROI. We previous discussed this when it comes to marketing automation and emails. Now let’s take a look at analyzing your social media and website traffic and engagement.
Social Media Analytics
If you are using a social media scheduling tool that also provides analytics, you can quickly get data that tells you how many followers you gain each month, what posts are resonating with your followers and how your audience is interacting with your content. Even if you do not have this all-in-one tool, you can still view this information within each social media platform through their built in analytics tools.
Find out how many followers your page has gained or lost.
See if your audience engaging with your content through likes, comments or sharing of your posts.
Identify which posts are resonating with your audience.
Determine if there additional social sharing opportunities that you can leverage based on the posts that resonate.
Certain types of content may do better on one platform versus another. We have found with some of our clients that firm culture posts and employee recognition does very well on Facebook for them, while posts about their services do not receive engagement there.
Other engagement trends could be seasonal. For example, if you provide a product or service to accounting firms, you may see your engagement drop during busy season. If this is the case, you can adjust your social media strategy to accommodate this and focus your efforts during the times when you anticipate more engagement. Another example is accounting firms that provide tax services to customers. Many people don’t think about their taxes after April, but by the end of the year, it’s back on their minds. In this case, you may want to focus your marketing efforts on other services you offer from May to October while maximizing the topic of tax during the time when it will receive the most engagement. Observing these trends allows you to maximize the effectiveness of your social media and digital marketing strategies.
Website Analysis with Google Analytics
Google Analytics can provide you with some incredibly valuable information that can help drive your marketing strategy. It can provide valuable insights about your audience and tell you how effective your digital marketing strategy is.
Find out what content is resonating with your audience, building traffic and converting leads.
See which keywords and phrases are bringing people to your website and how engaged are they once they are there.
Identify which efforts are producing results and generating leads so you can do more of them.
Determine if there marketing activities that aren’t working and need to be adjusted or eliminated.
Google Analytics can be daunting with all the data available. When we review Google Analytics for our clients, we look at a number of areas to provide them with information that validates current marketing efforts and recommendations for continued improvement. It’s important to understand how you acquire visitors to your site and their behavior once they are there. If you know how you acquire visitors, you can figure out your most effective channels so you can utilize them more and you can identify areas of improvement for less effective channels. Assessing the behavior of your audience tells you how they interact with your site once they are there. You can find out how long they spend on your site, pages that drive more engagement and pages that need updated content or stronger calls to action.
Analytics tools can help you measure the success of your digital marketing strategy and having this data is a great first step. Turning it into actionable steps for greater marketing success and lead generation is the next part of the process. Seeing what is working or what is not allows you to quickly adjust your approach to maximize effectiveness, build brand awareness, retain clients and generate leads.
Digital marketing has evolved. It is a way to attract and track online buyers by delivering specific content for their problems or interests. You can get real-time information on marketing strategies like never before, creating opportunities to capture additional leads and market share. It also provides organizations with the ability to put marketing dollars into the solutions that are producing results while quickly shutting down the efforts that aren’t providing sufficient ROI. To be successful at it, you need to understand how it works, the tools for implementation and analysis and how to apply the information for real results that lead to growth.
If you need assistance with your digital marketing strategy or in applying the tools and information available to create actionable steps that lead to results, schedule a meeting with us to find out how we can help you find marketing success.
Creating a strategy around your tradeshow investment can help you attain quality leads that bring new business to your firm or association. In this video, Dawn Wagenaar, Principal at Ingenuity Marketing Group, shares three techniques you can apply to tradeshows you take part in. These are tried and true techniques that Dawn herself uses when Ingenuity attends tradeshows. Tradeshows can be hugely successful and should be integrated into your marketing strategy.
If you prefer to read this content, the video transcript is below.
Many of our clients attend and sponsor tradeshows. Their goal is to get new business, but few of them build a strategy around their tradeshow investment. In this video, we’ll talk about the pre-planning and communications that should take place, techniques to get people talking to you during the tradeshow, and how to follow up effectively and build your pipeline.
First – create a timeline. Work backwards from the event date and figure out everything that has to happen and schedule it out. From the pre-show communications to the social posts during the conference to even the post-event communication and follow up.
Second, create a theme or something that will interest your prospects to visit your booth. Last year at a conference in Portland we had Voodoo donuts with a tie to the story of their company and why story telling is so important. Over the years we have done everything from a photo booth, to chair massages, to a Harley Davidson to video games. Now I know we are a marketing agency so we can get away with some of that but I think you get my gist. Be interesting…what will make the prospects come and talk to you.
Third, create the communications pieces –pre, during and post. Are you going to have a website landing page, social posts, send a post card ahead of time or send emails? This is vital as it is the promotion of your booth. Don’t leave it up to the tradeshow or conference you are exhibiting at. Take matters into your own hands!
And finally, follow up. Before you leave, put time on your calendar for following up with all the leads that you had fruitful conversations with in hopes of scheduling a call or meeting. The goal is to schedule another time to chat so that you both can determine if it’s a good fit and if you want to move forward with next steps whether another meeting, an estimate or proposal.
Tradeshows can be hugely successful and these tips will ensure even more success. Good luck!
How to Make Testimonials Part of Your Marketing Strategy
Most professional service marketers have heard the old adage, “People buy with emotion and justify their decisions with logic.” And yet, many professionals who sell an intangible service don’t know which emotions they are provoking and why anyone buys from them.
Why do people buy from you?
Quality service emerges as a compelling reason why professionals believe their clients buy from them. Interestingly, we have discovered that what signifies quality to a practitioner and what signifies quality to clients are often two different things. Professionals tend to focus on professional designations and internal process as measures of quality. Clients tend to focus on timeliness, impact, proactive communication and relationships.
The way to find out why your clients buy from you is to ask them. One of the first things we do with any new client is to call up some of their customers and have a good chat. We ask why they chose you, what they would say about you to a friend, if they would refer you to others, what you are best at and how you can improve. We ask them if they have worked with other firms in your field and what those experiences were like. We ask them how long they have worked with your firm and if they have ever considered switching.
At the end we have a transcript of the conversation and some juicy sound or word bites you can use on your website or in proposals. This gives you the opportunity to clearly understand your value proposition (sales-speak for what makes you unique and why people should buy from you). Your value proposition tells you how your clients feel about you. The conversation with your clients also gives you a chance to address any issues before they consider leaving.
Testimonials not only explain your unique-ness to the world in an independent voice, but they also build your confidence by taking a minute to bask in all those wonderful compliments. Every professional, and every firm, needs such affirmation to help strengthen conviction in the brand and value proposition. It makes you understand why you go to work every day, too!
Practical Testimonial Writing
We have learned some best practices over the years, as well as a few things to avoid when undertaking a testimonial-gathering effort.
Here is our checklist for curating high-quality testimonials:
Consider using an outside party who is good at drawing people out. Your clients will tell you that you are “great” but “great” is hardly compelling sales copy. They will be more expressive with someone they do not know. Make sure your interviewer has done this before; it is an art to draw people out and get the language that persuades.
Tell your clients who will be calling them and why. A heads-up from you means they will be much more comfortable with the interviewer.
Always use the telephone or in-person interviews. If you ask folks to write a letter, the letter will almost always be stiff and formal. Again, that’s not compelling copy. When you interview them, you have the chance to craft the words. Clients appreciate word crafting as long as it’s still accurate to the tone of their experience.
Craft a variety of testimonial quotes for use in your promotional campaigns.
Send each quote you might ever consider using to the client and get approval. Make sure they know it may be used on your website, media releases, proposals and for a variety of promotional uses. A testimonial template is helpful in this process for written documentation of their approval.
Whenever possible, use the person’s full name, title, and company. “Pat Z. in Wisconsin” sounds like a late night, diet-aid commercial. “Patrick Zuber, President, HealthCore Company, Madison, Wisconsin” is more credible.
Keep a file of testimonial approvals for future reference as you develop marketing materials and campaigns.
Send a copy of brochures or newsletters where the quote is used to the client. Most people like seeing their name in print.
Read This Final Referral Tip
One huge advantage of a persuasive testimonial is something called the second person referral effect. Most people choose professional service providers from personal referral — in other words, a referral from someone they know and trust. A testimonial is from someone your prospect may not know. However, this stranger does know you and is willing to brag about the intangible — how it feels to buy from you — in print. While not as powerful as a personal referral, it carries more weight than you saying the same thing. Finally, if your brochure claims your service is wonderful, it probably sounds to readers like common advertising fluff. If a real person testifies in detail about how it feels to work with you, the resulting impact will be much more persuasive. Having a file full of testimonials will enhance the quality of all your promotional material. Of course, testimonials also help you understand just why people buy from you. Plus, these tales of loyalty will help you build confidence to go out there and tell your story.
Is your firm struggling in other markets? Does your brand awareness seem to fall flat in some markets but thrive in others? Dawn Wagenaar, principal at Ingenuity Marketing Group, shares four steps to take to align your brand strategy across multiple markets. Learn brand positioning best practices for your firm, how to assess your competition and where you may have some gaps in your current positioning. Implement these steps to better align your brand across multiple markets.
Tips to Make Professional Content Interesting and Memorable for Leads
Content is king, except when no one reads it.
If you want people to read your website, blog, brochure or articles, use these hints from our business ghostwriters. These principles come from studies of sticky ideas, ways to attract attention and persuade readers. Use a few in your next writing project to create engagement with your audience.
Blend logic and emotion.
Prospects use both sides of their brains when looking for a new firm. They want quality services that persuade them of your ability to solve their problems. They also want to enjoy working with you. Use emotionally positive words, images and details about your people and the results they deliver.
Instead of talking about your services, involve readers emotionally. Include stories about real people. Add engaging photos that demonstrate the benefits of your work. Remember, people process images much faster than words, which is why photos and video get better emotional engagement, likes and comments.
Professional services are very complex. Boil your message down to its core. If your firm offers structural engineering services, you don’t have to write about all the sophisticated methods and options available to them. Instead, write about your approach to solving a problem. Include an infographic that leads them through that process.
You can add the infographic to a proposal or to your website or in a prospect presentation. Whether they are engineers or board members, they will appreciate how you strategically distinguish your team from other good engineering firms.
Surprise the reader.
Human brains are designed to tune out the expected and capture the unusual. That’s why the details of your regular drive to work aren’t memorable unless you have to take a detour. Pleasant and unpleasant surprises stick with us, so use unexpected language and unusual examples to make your content memorable.
We have a process for creating core branding themes for professionals that steer them away from words like “quality” and “service” and “knowledgeable.” Through conversations with leaders and clients, we identify words like “indispensable” and “pivotal” and “curious.” These words are still accurate but more interesting. They make people pause, which can help your firm stand out from the competition.
Consider fables and legends—the stories that are inherently memorable and have survived for thousands of years. Maybe your firm isn’t a legend yet, but you can use a few well-chosen stories of your own in marketing or sales conversations to clarify the benefits your firm delivers to clients. For example, we worked with a commercial restoration company that not only restores a client’s home after a flood or fire, but also restores the homeowner’s sense of personal security.
In one story, this company talks about an older woman who lost her home in a fire. She was grateful that the crew treated her like their mom, she said. She felt comfortable with their efforts to clean and restore her personal belongings. They let her stop in anytime to check progress, choose paint colors and other details. When her home was finished, it not only felt like home, but the crew also brought her flowers.
This is why personal reviews and testimonials are so important for distinguishing your firm from the competition. If you need to maintain confidentiality, keep a couple stories lined up about the most interesting work you’ve done lately or a result you’ve obtained for a client.
We delivered a presentation recently for an association. The attendees spent some time working on their elevator speeches. They got bonus points for using metaphors, and the results were much more interesting than, “I’m an accountant.”
If you’re having trouble making content interesting for leads, you could also work with a ghostwriter. Imagine. People get hundreds of emails a day and usually only read the subject line before deciding to open or delete — especially if they’re on a mobile device. We get much better open rates for clients by engaging the reader’s emotions and promising something worth their time right in the subject line.
Targeted Content Marketing Strategy Gets Media Attention
Buzz – an atmosphere of excitement or activity.
Social media is the dominant communicator of buzz today for your brand. You can create buzz through intentional content marketing or it can happen organically from an unrelated event that causes people to share, post and get excited about your services.
What’s so exciting about professional service industries? They have a reputation for being boring, but they are also known as stable, reliable, smart and indispensible for business owners. These latter traits are a journalist’s dream source. Professionals have seen, lived through – and helped their clients live through – all types of business climates and situations that make great stories.
Professionals sometimes tell us that they don’t know how to use their “boring” work to get media buzz. Well, here are eight tips from our experience as ghostwriters working with professionals and media. You can use them to provide story ideas, articles or quotes that actually get picked up in top trade and business publications.
Strategize your media buzz. Read the publications and listen to the broadcasts where you want to be visible. With that knowledge, tailor your story pitches. If they call a section “Business Briefings,” you should call it by the same name when pitching your idea. Look for the names of authors in the columns or sections where you want media coverage. Choose a few publications or news shows and focus exclusively on them.
Build up trust. Good business reporters don’t like to get information wrong. As a source – above everything else – be trustworthy. Share the facts. Tell the truth. Don’t jeopardize your chances of being quoted again.
Create relationships. When reporters and editors move around, they will take their best sources with them. Never blow off a reporter because you think the publication isn’t important enough. If it’s read by your target audience and fits your market, return the reporter’s call. Reporters will remember you as they move up the ranks of their journalism careers.
Don’t over-reach. One of the main mistakes we see with professionals is that they reach out to the wrong contact. Don’t call the main editor unless it’s a staff of three. Contact the business reporter or the freelancer who covers business frequently. This strategy relates well to the previous tip on building the right relationships.
Thank them. They like to pretend they don’t care, but every reporter will keep forever the few thank-you notes they’ve ever received. Send a sincere email or phone call, commenting specifically about something they’ve written. Just don’t send gifts, as journalists are ethically unable to accept them.
Repeat. Get quoted and published as frequently as you can. It can take at least six months (with professional ghostwriter support) to 12 months to get traction with reporters or publications and broadcasts. Become a regular contributor so that when other reporters or editors start looking for sources online, your name will pop up more frequently on specific topics. To increase your odds of coming up on an Internet search for a specific topic: write an op-ed piece, contribute a how-to article, speak at a conference and apply for an award. Be in the news and you will continue to be in the news through Internet search.
Tell the world. Don’t keep this great press to yourself! Share it on your website news page, post it on your social media profiles, send links to your friends for them to share. Add it to your speaker’s bio or PR bio. You PR bio is that little blurb that you use at the end of how-to articles to promote your experience and services. It’s the golden opportunity to talk about your experience without getting self-promotional in the article.
Embrace the chaos of media. Many people have a love/hate relationship with ‘the media.’ They like to stay informed and they love when they get positive press, but sometimes reporters make mistakes. Sometimes your competitor gets quoted and you don’t. Sometimes you just can’t seem to get their attention with your ideas. Don’t give up. Don’t complain or ask for equal billing with your competitors. Earned media doesn’t work that way.
Keep trying with new ideas or ask Ingenuity for help with your content marketing strategy. Earned media is a big part of building the media buzz that leads to real business leads and new clients.
BONUS TIP: If you get attention from someone in the news media, have something to say…even if it’s a written statement or talking points. Lack of follow-up with a reporter or using “no comment” is just a good way to get dropped off their source list. Ingenuity’s professional ghostwriters can help with this too!
“We want to start a newsletter because our industry associations say it is a good way to stay in front of people.”
We hear this from quite a few of the firms that call us. A newsletter is an excellent way to support your content marketing strategy and leverage your time by keeping your brand in front of people you do not see often, establish yourself as an expert and cross-sell your services or products to your client base. But ask anyone who has published a good newsletter, and they will tell you it is a huge commitment. Before you start publishing a newsletter, think about the following options:
Don’t do it at all. If you do not like to write and do not want to pay others to write for you, put your resources into something else.
Send out occasional updates or letters. Keep it Simple. A newsletter can have one article or multiple articles. It can be a success tip or quick, timely update.
Purchase existing content. Ask to see at least four back issues to make sure you like the content. Geographic exclusiveness is probably a good idea to make sure your clients do not get the exact same thing from your competitors. Content should be customized to differentiate your firm and support your rankings in search engines.
Creating your own newsletter from scratch is time consuming but is probably the best way to continually show clients and prospects your expertise and philosophy of doing business. If you decide to go ahead and publish, here are ten tips for success:
Use “You” Instead of using passive language such as, “Participants in this process gain exposure and credibility,” use active second person language such as “When you participate in this process, you gain exposure and credibility.” Speak directly to the readers and involve them in the information.
Wrap the Facts in Stories Why do you think The Diary of Anne Frank continues to be popular? The story of what happened to one person is more emotionally powerful than statistics of what happened to millions. A good story lights up the statistics and makes them real and important. Rather than just telling the facts, be sure to include real or fictionalized stories about what happened to people when they do or do not follow your advice.
Give Advice People read your newsletter because they want to find out what you think they should do. If they wanted the letter of the law or tax code, they could probably find it somewhere else. They want you to tell them what you think and share the wisdom you have developed working in the field. They read the newsletter because they trust you. Tell them what you think they need to know and do.
Call to Action Your articles should not only tell people what to do, but who to do it with: you! You can wrap this in a story with lines such as, “we helped this client by…” You can tell them about your expertise in the area and how you solved the problems. Always end the article with an invitation to learn more by contacting you and your contact information.
Be an Expert Always end your article with some brief information about yourself and/or your firm. While you might not want to mention your Harvard MBA in the body of the article, (“Back in my Harvard days, we…” sounds a bit like bragging), you definitely want to mention your credentials at the end. Make sure your bio extols your credibility, credentials, and includes a photo if possible.
Use Your Newsletter Strategically If you are passionate about opera or golf, you are welcome to mention it, but make sure the main articles are about services you want to sell. Having a dip in your personal injury practice? Make the case history of a client you helped be the lead story. If you create an expensive newsletter, make sure it works for you. Make sure it is targeted at your “A” clients. Make sure it brags about your accomplishments and achievements.
Be Allergic to Jargon Next time you have a group of your peers together, try to isolate words that are not used much outside your own field. Chances are you will not be able to because you are so immersed in your field. Have an outsider isolate the words that your audience will puzzle over and make you a list. Have the new employee in your office keep a list of words that are new. Sounding so smart that no one understands you is not a way to bring people in as clients; it is intimidating.
Hire an Outside Editor and Proof Even if you have great writers, a terrific proofreader and desktop publishing, you need an editor. A good editor establishes writing standards for the newsletter, helps authors learn to write better, keeps strategy in mind, interviews and writes articles you don’t have time for, nags nicely about the schedule, and always keeps the end audience in mind. Unless you want to do a terrific job on your newsletter, why do it? An outside editor is worth it. Make sure a great proofreader who has never seen it before proofs your newsletter last thing. When clients want to see you as an expert, perfect newsletters help them keep that vision.
Leverage Your Content Why write an article for just one publication? Could it also be submitted to your local newspaper, industry newsletter or talk radio station? Is there a website that publishes information like it? Once you have spent the time and sweat to create articles and a whole newsletter, think about who else you can send it to. Instead of only sending it to clients, consider sending it to:
Other tenants in your building
Targeted potential clients
Local chamber members and staff
Your local newspaper
Other media that might be interested in your areas of expertise
When people have been receiving your newsletter for a while, don’t be afraid to call them and ask for feedback or appointments. Use your newsletter as a basis for starting or continuing a conversation instead of replacing a conversation.
CPA Mutual was working with a Google AdWords rep to run online ads and sending a print newsletter to its 15,000 person database.