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How to Set Your Association Apart from the Competition

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2020 has brought a new way of thinking, and has presented many challenges, for associations in any industry. The way associations connect with members, provide networking opportunities and encourage professional development now looks very different. Associations are being forced to move all of their services online, and while we all hope to get back to regular in-person events in the future, virtual connection will likely remain a vital way to connect with members far and wide.

Connecting with members and encouraging meaningful conversation is more important than ever before, but all associations are asking the same question: How can we encourage members to engage in the virtual world?

What Are Your Members Interested In?

It’s likely that you have data on where your members are from, the company they work for, their job title, what events they have attended or what topics they care most about. During a period of change and uncertainty, it’s important to reconnect. Survey your members to learn what topics are most important to them. You can also learn more about the times of day they are most likely to engage with your association and how they prefer to hear from you. Take these results and build a new marketing strategy around them to increase engagement with your current members, and to increase future member enrollment.

Not only do associations need to learn more about their members, but it’s crucial to stay on top of industry trends. What do your members need help preparing for within their industry? Based on the answers you receive; your association can take advantage of any gaps by offering support and guidance regarding these new trends.

Survey tip: When collecting information from your members, ask if you can interview them to hear more specifics about their experience. Share these interviews far and wide to promote events, encourage member registration or use them to create fun social media posts. Someone’s personal experience with your association may spark new engagement. Conducting interviews also allows you to gather more in-depth knowledge into how members feel about your association. This is your chance to ask what you are doing well and what can be improved.

READ: LEARN HOW TO MAKE YOUR SURVEYS VALUABLE AND EFFICIENT

What Are Your Competitors Doing?

It’s challenging enough to motive members to attend another virtual event, but even harder when competitors are also sending out marketing materials promoting similar events. A competitive analysis provides insight how your association can set itself apart. Once you have reviewed the competition, you can start to identify gaps in your marketing strategy. 

It could be as simple as this. After conducting competitive research, you’ve discovered that your competitors are offering many networking events in the late afternoon throughout the week. Your association has been wanting to host a networking event, but now you have information to set your event apart. Your association decides to host coffee networking opportunities so that members available early in the day will be able to attend. You may be surprised how simple adjustments, or differentiators, can draw people to your association. 

READ: TYPES OF RESEARCH AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT

Freshen Up Your Brand

Even though we are all working remotely and adapting to receiving most (if not all) of our information digitally, people want to connect! Current and future members are craving opportunity to discuss pain points or solutions within their industry. Even though the future may seem bleak, now is the time to freshen your association’s image to stand out and reconnect.

A new brand image can speak to a new audience in the future. Modernize your image and marketing strategy to appeal to the next generation in the work force and to continue connect with those that have been with your association for a while. 

An example: Wood Component Manufacturers Association (WCMA) felt like their logo was outdated and didn’t connect with their younger members. They decided to refresh their image to set their association apart. This resulted in a modern aesthetic for their logo and brand perception. 

Finding new ways to connect with your members is more important than ever. As your members adapt to new work styles and trends, your association must do the same. Think through how surveying members, researching your competition and a brand refresh can boost your member engagement to new heights. 

Looking for assistance to help set your association apart from the competition? Learn more about Ingenuity’s association marketing experience.


 

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Generate Leads with Google Ads

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How do you find information about brands or services? When looking for information you probably think, “I’ll Google it!” If that’s you, you’re not alone. We all rely on search engines to help us find information we’re looking for. 

The marketing world has changed dramatically in recent years, and Google Ads is one of the platforms driving this transformation. In fact, Google Ads has become one of the best tools for lead generation. If the ads are set up properly, they have the potential to send extremely targeted leads to your website to view your services or provide lead contact information by downloading a resource.  

Let’s talk through how your firm can offer a resource through Google Ads to support your lead generation strategy. 

Create a Valuable Resource

Every effective Google Ad will lead interested visitors to an engaging landing page on your website. One way to make a landing page engaging is to offer a downloadable resource that your target audience would be interested in. Maybe a case study, white paper, industry insider tips or a checklist for a new process related to your niche focus area. 

Offering a take-away shows your firm’s thought leadership and expertise in a certain area. It also makes a visitor feel like they found what they were looking for, or better yet, they found a firm that can help support them. 

Collect Contact Information

The best part about offering a free resource is that you can ask the lead to provide contact information to receive it. When you collect contact information, make sure you require the lead to provide:

    • First Name
    • Last Name
    • Email Address

What other information would be important for you to know about the lead? Maybe the company they work for, their location or job title. When designing this landing page, you can make these requirements tailored to your firm’s lead generation strategy, but don’t ask for too much information right away. Each click or required field on a landing page increases the chances for someone to opt out and leave. Keep the information needed to receive the resource simple, clean and quick. 

READ: LEARN MORE ABOUT HOW TO DIRECT PROSPECTS AND CLIENT ATTENTION ONLINE.

Monitor the Results

Don’t rush online advertising. It takes time to find your mojo. Until you find your rhythm and see desired results, frequently monitor your ad and landing page. You can see how many people visit the landing page, if they are downloading your resource and if visitors from your Google Ad explore other areas of your website. All of this information can be tracked through Google Analytics.   

If you notice that people are not downloading your resource, you may need to make the landing page more engaging to persuade and encourage. If you want more people to visit the landing page in general, try tweaking your Google Ad to better reach your target audience. 

With a little patience and an open mind, your Google Ads will become an effective lead generation tool for your firm or association.

Follow Up

Your ad is running smoothly and you’re starting to collect lead contact information when visitors are downloading your free resource. Now what?! 

Reach out to these new leads in a timely manner. Send a friendly email thanking them for visiting your site and learning more about the services you provide. Offer to answer any questions they have regarding the free resource they received. Are there any other questions they have that weren’t answered? Build the relationship and learn more about them. What types of services are they looking for? How can you support them?

Set aside time to contact these new leads. Following up is a critical piece to build your business development strategy, so set firm calendar reminders to incorporate it into your routine.  

Google Ads can be inexpensive and target people specifically searching for the services your organization provides. An effective ad will drive potential leads to your website. An engaging landing page and resource will position your firm as a thought leader in the industry. Follow-through builds great brand recognition and turns these potential leads into future clients. Incorporate Google Ads into your SEO and business development strategy, and be prepared to be wowed by the results.

Listen to our most recent podcast for busy professionals! Learn tricks to easily incorporate business development into your busy schedule.


 

How to Leverage Virtual Events in 2021

With fewer opportunities to connect face-to-face with clients, prospects, referral sources and coworkers, many firms and associations have found ways to connect virtually. Thanks to modern technology, we are able to continue reaching our target audiences online and just as effectively as in-person interactions.

If you have already started to incorporate virtual events into your marketing strategy, you know how much time and effort is needed to make these successful and worthwhile. Let’s talk through how you can continue to promote past virtual events to further expand your reach into the new year without having to reinvent the wheel.   

Share on Social Media

Utilize your firm or association’s social media channels to spread the word about previously recorded virtual events, trainings, videos or podcasts. The content you have already recorded can still be an engaging way to connect with leads well into the future. Sharing these recordings showcases your teams’ expertise on social media. It will also encourage your followers to learn about the work that you’ve done in the past and keeps your firm or association top-of-mind moving forward.

By posting these previously recorded events on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube, you’re creating a library of resources for your target audience to reference in the future. What better way to stand out as a thought leader and provide accessible information?!

Social media tip: Ask the individuals presenting at your virtual events to share the recordings on their personal social pages. Their followers will be interested in this content which can expand your reach even further.

Utilize Other Creative Outlets

Your target audience is consuming information in new ways because of this virtual environment. It’s important that you stay up-to-date with how people are learning about your services, upcoming events and where they go to find new information.

Did you know that if you record a webinar, video or even a meeting, you can turn that content into a podcast? All you need is an audio converter software program, which transforms your video into a MP3 file. Once you have the audio file downloaded on your computer, you can edit this file to add an intro, outro and make any other audio edits.  Display the finished product as a podcast on your website, share on social media and make available on other podcast sharing platforms.

It’s also possible to transform videos into blog content! Viewers who would rather skim through the content of your video or don’t have the ability to access audio can read a new blog with the same content instead. Take your video and create a transcript using a tool like Rev.com. After reviewing the transcript for any errors, you have already created a new blog post for your website with minimal extra effort. 

Encourage Virtual Business Development

All of the content you work so hard to create (trainings, videos, blogs, podcasts, social media posts, etc.) prove that you’re a thought leader within your industry or niche. Encourage new business by sharing these resources far and wide. Share these resources during a sales pitch, display on your website and use them to encourage future speaking engagements. Showing that you have experience communicating your industry knowledge through these virtual platforms will expand your reach and business development opportunities.

Looking to boost your digital marketing efforts in 2021? CONNECT WITH OUR TEAM TO INCREASE YOUR VISIBILITY.

Stay in-the-know. Give Ingenuity Marketing Group a follow on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn to stay on top of emerging marketing trends in 2021!

Find Quality Engineering Leads Using Social Media

Have you ever wondered how people are searching for information about your firm online? One of the most powerful ways to share your firm’s story is through social media! When someone decides to search Google for your engineering firm, chances are your social media channels pop up right away. Because social media is becoming increasingly popular, these platforms are a powerful tool to allow firms to connect, generate leads and position themselves as thought leaders.

Let’s talk through four reasons why your engineering firm should be using social media and how to incorporate it into your regular content marketing routine.  

Social Platforms Boost Brand Awareness

Social media is a powerful way for brands to maintain client relationships while having the opportunity to be found by new leads. Your firm’s social pages can become a way to engage with clients at every stage of their journey with you. Whether they are prospective leads or current clients, your social media visitors can engage through comments, ads, video and firm updates.

As your firm gains followers on social media, routinely posting allows your brand to stay top-of-mind. Your followers are interested in your content, and more likely to engage with you as you post more frequently. Social media is also a great way to connect visually with your followers! Create videos and images that represent your brand and specific projects you’re working on.

Incorporate Social into Your Routine

Let’s not sugar coat it. Your firm creates a lot of valuable content to highlight your work. Use social media as a space to share blogs, videos and other content you’ve worked hard on, such as project updates and information about your firm’s culture.

Sharing information regularly (we recommend 2-3 times a week on your selected social platforms) makes it easier for people to see it on their feed and find information they are looking for on your pages. Most importantly, active social media pages encourage your followers to share the content you post! By creating something “shareworthy,” your firm can extend its reach.

Maybe your firm dabbles in social media, but you’re not posting regularly. Make a plan to consistently keep these platforms updated, keeping your followers in-the-know and to position your firm as thought leaders within your industry. You’ve already made the content; now how can you make posting to social part of your normal marketing routine?

READ: LEARN HOW THIS ENGINEERING FIRM USED SOCIAL MEDIA TO GET MORE CLICKS TO ITS WEBSITE

Utilize Social Media to Satisfy Business Objectives

Your firm has big goals! Now more than ever, social media is a way to help you achieve them. Looking to generate more leads? Wanting to connect with employees in the new virtual age? Hoping to become known for your construction, engineering or architecture work? Want to stand out in niche areas? Be more social!

You have the ability to focus on certain topic areas on social media, helping you stand out against competitors. Social media platforms are a great resource for your firm to connect with other thought leaders in the industry, reach new clients/project partners and engage with referral sources. Use these platforms to highlight your firm’s experience in creative and engaging ways.

In addition to better supporting your firm’s social media pages, encourage leaders of your firm to engage with important prospects or clients through their personal pages. Use social as a way to remain connected and aware of what your potential clients care about and how your firm can support them in the future.

Earn Quality Leads

Social media is a way to engage with quality leads because your best followers will care about the topics you share and post regularly. Potential leads are people who follow your firm or who follow the leaders at your firm. They engage with your content and maybe they have already sent a direct message to your firm through social. Here are some ways to make sure quality leads can get in touch:

    • Provide contact information. Your contact information should be up-to-date and readily available on all of your social media profiles, highlighting how your firm prefers to receive inquiries—whether by phone, email or a link to a contact page on your website.
    • Add direct links. Wherever possible, make sure each post has a clear link and a tempting call-to-action. The majority of the links used on your firm’s social media channels should be encouraging followers to visit your website for more information, and they should align with the firm’s business objectives.
    • Take advantage of lead gen forms. Certain platforms offer a paid ad format that’s specific for lead generation. Anyone who clicks on your ad can submit their contact information with the click of a button. Your firm can reach out and connect with these quality leads in the future. 

 

Other ways to find quality leads on social media include joining Facebook or LinkedIn groups, following hashtags and industry influencers, and monitoring who regularly engages with your content.

Now you know more about the power of social media! It’s time to take advantage of this tool in constructive ways to increase brand awareness, meet business objectives and generate quality leads.

Want more content marketing tips? Check out our Create a Content Marketing Strategy That Keeps on Giving blog for ideas to boost your strategy.

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How referral sources influence your branding process

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What is one of your favorite brands, and how did you get hooked on the product or service? It’s likely that word-of-mouth was your referral. Think about it! We talk about products and brands with our coworkers, family and friends all the time. Our loyalty to certain brands or products supports business development.

Here’s an example of brand loyalty and how referrals impact the branding process.

You and your family have always purchased Chevrolet vehicles. You decide to look for a fresh perspective and seek advice from a coworker for your next vehicle purchase. Based on their advice and feedback, you purchase a new Ford SUV.

You end up loving the new amenities and low-maintenance fees the Ford SUV provides. Your brand loyalty has changed! You plan to inform your family members of how much you’re enjoying your Ford vehicle, knowing their brand loyalty could switch just like yours did.

This is exactly what Ford wanted to happen! Building reliable vehicles that people want to talk about and share is all part of their branding process. This can be part of your brand loyalty process, too!

How can you build referral sources that ultimately support your business development strategy?

Engage with your current clients

One of the most efficient ways to attract future clients is to utilize your current client base, allowing them to tap into their networks for you. It’s likely that their business connections are also your target audience or potential referral base.

One way to encourage engaged conversation with your current clients is to offer a survey or assessment. Surveys provide an opportunity for you to better understand your clients, but also help your clients give you referral information directly.

READ: CREATE A SURVEY TO RECEIVE REFERRAL INFORMATION.

Make sure to follow up after you have received survey responses. This tells your clients that you appreciate the feedback. During this follow-up step, they may be more likely to make an email or personal introduction.

Tips to connect with referrals

Always collect your referral’s email address to easily follow up and connect. Frequent follow-ups allow you and your business to stay top of mind with your referral sources without taking up too much of their or your time.

Keep the emails focused on what’s new with your firm or association, what services or events you’re offering and the ways you can assist them with their own clients. Your goal is to show your clients that you care and by doing so you will build brand loyalty through these emails and keep your firm top of mind.

What happens next?

You received referral contact information, engaged with those referrals, and now they have started working with you. Hooray! You have reached your goal. Or have you?

The process isn’t complete just yet. Give the referral source a quick phone call or write a personal note, thanking them for their referral. Better yet, depending on the size of the prospect they referred you, you may want to send them a gift such as a gift card, a bottle of wine or something they would enjoy. This is a great way to increase brand loyalty even further and start the referral process all over again.

Ultimately, if you can refer business back to your referral sources, that’s a slam-dunk branding gift that they will remember the next time their clients have a need!

Over time, you will see the trickle effect of your referral program! Your new clients will begin to share their own referrals, which can further establish your brand positioning.

Want to learn more about adding partnerships and referral sources into your brand positioning strategy? Read this blog post for tips.


Illustration of a magnet attracting potential customers.

3 Lead Generation Tactics to Attract Quality Leads

Illustration of a magnet attracting potential customers.
One thing is certain — things don’t always go as planned. Adding a few new elements into your business development strategy may be the push that helps your professional services firm attract quality leads during times of disruption.    
 
We get it! Certain goals get pushed aside during a busy season, during the acquisition of a new company, and when a global pandemic strikes. The good news is that these disruptions present business development opportunities for attracting more people to your brand and message. Here are a few small, but effective lead generation tactics to continue receiving referrals and gaining new business during disruption.
 
  • Host a virtual event
  • Create a referral reward program
  • Create an online assessment
 
While the world continues to demand opportunities to connect virtually, how can this be an advantage to attract new business? The chance to attract quality leads through virtual or online platforms becomes increasingly important when turning those leads into returning clients. This is true not only for CPA firms, but equally applies to other service organizations, including those in charge of marketing for an association, as well as legal professionals and engineering firms.

HOST A VIRTUAL EVENT.

A computer screen showing a virtual meeting.Creating an event for current and potential clients to see what your team has been up to, or where you’re headed, is a great way to encourage engagement with your firm. Offer a workshop or webinar where your clients can learn more about your organization and industry trends. Hosting a virtual event provides the opportunity to stand out as an industry thought leader! Invite speakers to join your event who have a deep insight into certain topics that will get your crowd buzzing on the new content.
 
To reach a magnitude of people, promote this event through your firm’s website, social channels, newsletter and blog. Hosting virtual events may influence even more people than is possible hosting similar events in person. Take advantage of the current trend to go virtual to reach even more people and gain trust from quality leads.
 
Don’t forget to press “record” when hosting your virtual events. Save this content and recycle it  to attract another round of quality leads.
 

CREATE A REFERRAL REWARD PROGRAM.

Reward ribbon with star in the center.Put your current clients or referral sources in a position to easily refer new leads and promote your brand through a referral reward program. New potential clients value and trust recommendations from their friends or colleagues, so encourage existing clients to spread the word about your brand. Referral reward programs can be short or long-term and are wildly effective.
 
Creating a referral reward program is not only a great way to gain new clients, but can also increase participation for an upcoming webinar or virtual event. Offer up an incentive to your clients to invite a friend, such as a special drawing at an upcoming virtual event, to encourage current clients to recruit new business leads on your behalf. Think of what types of initiatives make the most sense with your industry or organization and will keep clients and referral sources engaged in helping your firm or organization. While it is unlikely these new webinar recruits will instantly become new clients, they will be excellent new additions to keep your lead generation funnel filled with qualified, engaged potential clients.
 
Continue to introduce new incentives and new content for other professionals to refer their clients and friends to you. Don’t forget that the best incentive for people to send referrals is when you refer a potential client to them, too! Work on your cross-referral relationships to support each other in new business growth. 

GET TO KNOW YOUR LEADS.

Creating a business development strategy around a new referral program or virtual event presents exciting opportunities for your firm to learn more about potential future clients. When obtaining information from referred leads, make sure to ask them questions about themselves. Asking questions helps you gain information to keep them coming back for more. Here are a few ways to throw short, effective assessments into your business development strategy:
 
  • Create polls in your virtual webinar series or workshops
  • Add questionnaires at the end of presentations to see what topics people would like to hear about in the future
  • Add short survey questions into your email or newsletter blasts to learn more about your leads and loyal clients
  • Build a web assessment that is industry focused and invites visitors to self-qualify their need for services by identifying their biggest challenges or pains. 
 
With your goals in mind, ask questions that will lead you to information that supports follow-up conversations with leads and prospects. Over time you will also have the opportunity to show how you’ve changed your business development strategy and produced new content based on how your clients and prospects answer your questions and assessments. This demonstrates to your clients that you’re listening. You are building a positive reputation that supports an effective lead generation funnel even during times of disruption.
 
Remember to always collect an email address! Having an email address provides the opportunity to stay connected to quality leads through email campaigns and newsletter blasts. Your leads can stay connected to the events and content you produce until they are ready to work with you. Sending your content through email and social media will also help your brand stay top-of-mind as a thought leader in the industry. 
 
 
Looking for more advice on developing a strong business development strategy? Let’s schedule a conversation to see how we can help. 

Man opening shirt to reveal superhero costume with the words "CAS" on his chest.

Accounting Niche Marketing Strategy for CAS

Man opening shirt to reveal superhero costume with the words "CAS" on his chest.
Recently, we had the opportunity to develop a Client Accounting Services (CAS) business toolkit for public accounting firms. It was designed with best practices to help firm leaders get their ducks in a row to launch or grow a CAS practice.
 
Some firms get by with offering a version of CAS without proactively branding and marketing it. That’s fine if you don’t believe it can be a true profit center. However, industry advocates such as AICPA and firm leaders who formally pursue CAS experience faster growth and client retention. That’s because the whole firm participates, and their clients experience the real value and benefits of outsourcing their accounting and CFO functions. 
 
In fact, the AICPA has reported that CAS practices that surpass the $2 million mark are different because they have dedicated staff (from accountant to partner level), and the firm actively offers these services to current and new clients…they market it.*  
 
Here is what we learned when discussing niche-marketing strategies with the recipients of our CAS business toolkit: It needs to be treated like a real niche practice. And that means it needs: 
 
  • Staffing and budgeting;
  • Technology investment;
  • Consistent marketing, and 
  • A team trained to talk about its value and benefit to clients. 
Often, firms get hung up in the marketing component because they assume that clients just know that they offer QuickBooks ProAdvisor team or outsourced accounting or controllership services. After all, they are a public accounting firm! But CAS is not your grandfather’s accounting service. 

Know Your Target Audience

  • Prospects – cold to warm
  • Existing clients – warm to hot
  • Referral sources – cold to warm
Who are your prospective CAS clients? What is the size and characteristic of a business that will find outsourced CAS appealing? Detail out the kind of client you want who will bring you $3,000-$7,000 a month as a baseline. 
 
Determine referral sources that can send clients to you. Next, create a plan with talking points about why CAS is the right fit for many of your existing clients. 

Build Your CAS Niche Marketing Strategy

Set a financial and staffing goal for your practice. Where do you want to grow the practice in 12 months to 3 years? 
 
Take that goal and break it down into measurable objectives for brand visibility, growth among existing clients and attraction of new CAS-specific clients. What marketing activities will you need to reach these objectives? 
 
To succeed, someone has to take the lead on marketing and measuring your progress toward these objectives and firm goals. Your partners and technical people are too busy serving clients. They need a guide and ongoing activities to support practice growth. 

Digital Marketing Agency Support

To make visibility with a CAS practice easier, take stock of your search engine optimization and website content. Are you actively seeking web visitors and leads for your CAS practice or leaving it up to chance? Leaving it up to chance means that your firm might pop up as a search result for CAS and it might not — even in your local market!
 
 
Make use of client stories and social media engagement to highlight your CAS team and their amazing knowledge that supports client goals every day. Do your research and ask for the business online as well as in person. What does that look like?
 
  • Offer CAS content subscriptions 
  • Produce webinars or videos to share CAS features
  • Create an assessment to attract prospects
  • Develop an FAQ resource
In the beginning, you don’t have to do all of these. Just pick one or two. When clients and potential clients can self-serve and qualify themselves for CAS services, you are halfway to closing the deal. But your audience has to know that the resources are there and available 24/7. Marketing and team training points them to it. 
 
Like clients who need CAS, your firm leadership may not all realize that outsourced marketing services can jumpstart your CAS practice growth. We are happy to answer your questions at Ingenuity. Contact Dawn Wagenaar for a consultation.  
 
 

Dice with social media icons on the top of them.

Social Engagement Article Published in National ASAE Magazine

Dice with social media icons on the top of them.

We contributed an article for Associations Now, the national magazine of ASAE. This is the primary publication for executives and leaders of professional associations.

Below is the article in its entirety, and you can also read it on the ASAE website.

Engage New and Potential Members Through Social Media

Social media has so thoroughly penetrated our daily lives that you may have put your social strategy on auto-pilot. That’s a mistake. Follow these tips to make sure you’re maximizing your reach and relevance among audiences that don’t yet know you well.

Social media is now baked into most associations’ communications strategies. Your active presence on social media helps your association appear higher in search results across the internet, which can lead to higher visitor engagement on your channels. But that’s not all. Content that is relevant and focused on the visitor also adds value to your new and potential association members—people you need to engage effectively to bring them fully into your community.

Put yourself in their shoes. Consider what social media content would capture your attention if you were a new member or prospect of your association. Build those topics and resources into your social strategy, whether it’s legislative news, event reminders, fun images of member involvement, or features and benefits of membership. Invite new members to follow your channels and explain the benefits, and then maintain a regular posting schedule of communications so they get in the habit of seeking your channels for timely and relevant information.

Your social media strategy should include posts on individual leader profiles. When key leaders comment on topics of interest to members, celebrate member achievements, or highlight resources of interest, this significantly expands your relevance to new members and reach to potential members. 

Conversely, less frequent posting and less engagement downgrades your social rank. if members don’t see your posts anymore, that’s not good.

Association Research Steps to Success

Here are a few more considerations for better engaging with your audience, adjusting your approach, or adding a new platform to maximize your visibility.

Know your audience. Address the pains and concerns of your prospects and members with a solution to solve their most pressing issues. To do this, ask yourself the following questions: What types of content resonate with them the most? Do they respond most to posts that highlight other members, or do they prefer topical articles or webinars and other event information?

Understand your current engagement. Conduct a regular analysis of your social media channels to identify the most effective channels and content. You may find that what works on LinkedIn does not generate the same engagement on Facebook or Twitter. Does your audience spend time on the social media platforms you are currently using? You will gain insights on how best to focus the strategy for each social channel if you dive into their specific analytics.

“When key leaders comment on topics of interest to members, celebrate member achievements or highlight resources of interest, this significantly expands your relevance to new members and reach to potential members.”

Be bold and try new things. If you are not sure about trying a new approach on Facebook or Instagram, test it out to see how your audience responds. Whether theylove it or it falls flat, you have tried something new and you now have clues on how to proceed.

Test out new content types. Posting links to your blog articles is great for your website’s search engine optimization, but adding a variety of content types can help capture the attention of your audience through their preferences. Some people prefer a video to a blog post. Some would rather listen to a podcast during their commute. 

Social Media Technical Tips

A few technical hacks can boost your success with social media. Create actionable and concise posts on your social media channels, but maximize your post character count, use appropriate hashtags, and tag members to expand your audience reach and post engagement. Hashtags and tagging can expand your reach beyond your own followers. These are searchable features on social media, and clicking on one will show all the posts on that social channel that use that specific hashtag.

The goal is not to be unique in your selection of hashtags, but to use common ones so you appear in the feeds of a broader industry or professional audience. The exception to this is if you are creating a hashtag that promotes your brand that you also want your members to use. Then your members can become your hashtag ambassadors.

When you tag new members, the posts can appear in the feeds of the members’ own connections. This tactic improves your brand awareness and could bring new prospects to your social channels. Additionally, when you tag others, they may return that action and tag you in their content. The more you engage with your social media followers by liking and commenting on their posts, the more they will engage with your association.

The one constant with social media is that it is constantly changing, with adjustments to search algorithms, user tools, and channel layouts. World and economic events may also necessitate fresh approaches to your social communications as you advance your strategy. Be the social resource your members and prospects turn to and prefer.


Speaking of a preferred association, we had a lot of fun with this branding project for the Wood Component Manufacturers Association. See our Work here.

You may also be interested in this video with 4 Ideas for Association Marketing.  

 

Car wheel spinning, stuck in the mud,.

Professional Services Marketing Ideas When You’re in a Rut

Car wheel spinning, stuck in the mud,.

If you’ve been doing the same marketing and content too long, here are three signs. 

  • Your analytics are flat lining.
  • You yawn when reading your own copy.
  • In place of leads, you hear crickets.
We get it. Sometimes how you’ve always done it is easier. But if it’s no longer producing your desired results, why are you doing it? 
 
From newsletters to blog posts to eblasts, your professional services marketing can get stale. When you notice that fewer people open your communications or click through, it’s the biggest sign that you’ve lost your marketing mojo. 
 
Don’t be afraid to change it up. It may take you out of your comfort zone, but we guarantee that doing the same thing you’ve always done will bring you diminishing returns. Embrace creativity!

Try a new medium.

Review each way that you communicate with your audiences and assess it: 
 
  • Why does it exist and what is your goal?
  • Is it valuable content or simply filling space? 
  • Is the delivery vehicle right for your intended audience? 
  • What are your actual results? 
For those marketing activities that no longer bring you joy, wish them well and let them go. With your extra time and space, add a new medium such as a video blog or targeted digital ad campaign. Experiment with new forms of delivery to attract renewed interest. 
 
Don’t forget about your website. Page analytics will tell you if certain pages just aren’t supporting your strategy. Refresh those pages with new content or new layouts to attract visitors. Promote your new pages on social media. 

Play with time.

Have you noticed that LinkedIn lists the average length of time to read a blog post? It’s an invitation to spend 6 or 8 minutes and learn something new. 
 
Seize that call to action to vary the length of your posts and presentations. Add a few 2-minute posts under 250 words. Then add a few 12-minute posts. Try a 30-minute or a 60-minute webinar. See if time makes a difference in the views you attract. Focus on ideal lengths of time, but keep it varied.

Introduce different voices.

We know it’s difficult to get more professionals in your firm or association to create content. But sometimes you focus too much on niche leaders or partners. Consider asking a younger professional to write a blog post or create a video. You may be surprised at the fresh variety that new voices add to your content on all channels.
 
It may require some training. Some people aren’t comfortable on camera, but they do warm up to it with practice. Others are naturals. Do some screen testing. Vary your content assignments and bylines to bring depth and interest to your marketing strategy. It’s also a great way to promote the depth of your team.

Maximize design.

Too often, we see marketing pieces that lack a balance between copy and design. People pick up on visual elements and color faster than words on the page or screen. But you also want the content to be clear and meaningful. Think about how to make your messaging more visual. Add fresh design or color to wake up your blog, videos, collateral or presentations. Redesigns should stay true to your visual brand, of course. Add a palette of secondary colors to expand your options. 
 
 
In proposals, elements such as graphs, flow charts, icons and other imagery can help your firm stand out in a competitive environment. You can maintain RFP/LOI requirements and also avoid the urge to stuff too much copy into a limited space. Color and bullet points, for example, help people notice copy and actually read your key ideas.
 
These are just a few ideas to get you out of a professional services marketing rut! Change your strategy as needed and maximize your results. You may also be interested in changing up your strategy through partnership and referral marketing. Read this blog post for tips.       

Businessman wearing cape with arm in air.

Supercharging your Marketing Strategies with Partnerships and Referrals

Businessman wearing cape with arm in air.

If you have built up a positive brand reputation for your professional services firm, partnership marketing and referral source marketing are two tactics you should consider making a part of your overall marketing strategy. When two brands come together for their mutual benefit, the results can be quite impressive and create new opportunities to reach prospective clients or members.

Partnership Marketing

Partnership marketing is simply when two brands collaborate on a marketing campaign. Some of the most common ways we are seeing this accomplished within professional service firms and associations is through co-hosted webinars, newsletter shout-outs and creating co-branded content such as whitepapers.

As you consider who to partner with, be strategic and make sure that there is a mutual benefit. Maybe you have a larger client list but the other partner has a magnetic and trusting personality that makes webinars fun. Or perhaps you have more expertise in an area and your marketing partner has a very engaged audience. Even if your partnership marketing efforts are a bit lopsided, that’s entirely okay. Sometimes it is worth it in order to forge the relationship and create loyalty.

The benefits of partnership marketing are many and include increased brand awareness through exposure beyond your primary audience, new contacts for your nurturing campaigns and lead generation. It is also an association and professional services marketing strategy that is low risk. You can dip your toes into the waters of partnership marketing to see what resonates with your target audience and quickly adjust your strategies with minimal investment or cost up front.

READ: Marketing to Real People in a Digital World

Referral Source Marketing

When we talk to our clients, we often find that they are neglecting their referral sources in their networking and marketing efforts. If you are not optimizing this source of business development, you may be missing out on some great prospective clients or members.

Whether you are just building your referral marketing strategies or need a refresher in how to implement it, here are a few tips to boost your efforts in this area.

First, identify referral sources that could send business your way. For CPA firms, this may include attorneys or financial advisors. For an association, this could be a nonprofit with a similar mission that complements yours. Make sure they understand what you do and what your ideal prospect looks like.

Next connect regularly with your referral sources. Create a schedule so that you are routinely calling or emailing them just to connect. The goal is to stay top-of-mind so they refer you when the opportunities arise.

Finally, when you receive referrals you appreciate, pick up the phone and let them know. Once you’ve done that, take it a step further and do something nice for them. You could send a referral their way, give them a recommendation or review or make another type of introduction that would be helpful to their business. Go out of your way to send the message that you appreciate their support in your success by contributing to theirs.

WATCH:How to Get More Referrals

Implementing partnership and referral source marketing into your strategies can help you build your brand awareness and connect with new potential clients or members. Give it a try and see what works for your professional service firm or association.

You may also be interested in how you can boost your virtual business development efforts to bridge the gap with lost face-to-face networking and tradeshow opportunities.