Introduction

The business to business world accounts for some of the best and worst marketing online. Occasionally you will stumble across a strategy of sheer brilliance, but all too often we see the following errors:

  • There is a complete lack of any coherent brand identity
  • Almost all the content is about themselves
  • Little advantage is taken of the potential influencers
  • The channel strategy is all but invisible

This guide provides an overview for digital marketing for all professional service firms, both large and small, from accountancy and law, to estate agents and recruitment.

Brand identity

The first issue is around the brand. 90% of professional service websites, have absolutely no sense of brand. The language is generic, the imagery is stock and the messaging is hollow.

You cannot create an effective digital strategy without first having a clear sense of:

  • Your brand core – what is that one thing that defines you above everything else? It must be something that you care deeply about, that is aligned to a growing and robust customer demand, and that is, by and large, being neglected by the broader market.
  • Your brand personality – if your business were a person, who would that person be? What would they say, wear and feel? This typically stems from the founders or senior team.
  • Your brand values – what are your document organisational values and how are they built into the fabric of the company?
  • Value proposition – based on your overall brand identity, what is the value proposition and where is your credibility to support it?

Content strategy

Once the brand identity is defined, we can then look at the content strategy. There are several aspects to this:

  • Content pillars – a number of clear themes need to be defined. For example, if your target audience is operations managers within the IT sector, you may have themes around efficiency, scalability and systems security.
  • Content calendars – rather than producing everything on an ad hoc basis, you are far better off creating monthly or quarterly content calendars, along with where the content is to be distributed and how its success will be measured.
  • Campaigns – in order to really distinguish your content from that of the competition, you should spearhead all your activity with ambitious campaign ideas that really cut through the noise.

Influencer marketing

Influencer marketing tends to be thought of as something that only really apples to consumer facing businesses, health, fashion and beauty brands engaging with high profile instagrammers. However, many of the most effective influencer strategies actually exist within the B2B and professional services world.

In every sector there are people who hold significant influence over their peers. Consider that IT guy who is at every major event talking on panels, and constantly being quoted by industry magazines. Or how about that lady within the energy sector who’s considered an expert on innovation. If these are target markets for you, then these are the kind of people you want associated with your brand, and it’s easier than you think.

As long as your primary goal is to capture amazing content and your brand has a clear purpose, then most people, no matter how busy and high profile, will make time for you. By interviewing these people for insight, whether by video, article or podcast, you can achieve a number of things:

  • Reinforce the position of your brand
  • Generate incredible content – what better content could you ever wish to have than insight from the top 1%?
  • Increase your reach via social media – as they will share this content with your target audience

SEO for professional service companies

Typically, most business purchases are highly rational (we’ll ignore for now the fact that even the most rational purchase is still driven by underlying emotions) which means that Google search is incredibly important. Your users, more often than not, already know what they’re looking for. So the question is:

  • Does your website have the content that caters to it?
  • Is this content well structured within large but digestible landing pages?
  • Is it appropriately marked up with schema to ensure that Google can interpret the different types of content?

Social media for professional service companies

It is rare to find a professional service company that is effectively using social media, which is absolutely not to suggest that it isn’t important. On the contrary, social media is now an absolutely essential communications channel within all sectors.

The key is to ensure that the business to business content framework is first well defined and that the objective of each social platform is agreed. For example, Facebook is fantastic at developing communities, while instagram is perfect for initiating new relationships via inspirational style content, and twitter and LinkedIn and Twitter are better for developing personal relationships and driving people back to the website.

The other key is to ensure a sensible media budget is made available. Facebook, in particular, now has such a minimal organic reach that without any budget for content promotion there is little point being on there in the first place.

Email marketing

Like social media, the most important thing for email is that you’re clear on your objective and how you will measure success. Emailing cold lists or running aggressive promotional campaigns is unlikely to achieve the desired results, but for many professional service firms it is an absolutely key channel for nurturing existing relationships and ensuring you are at the the front of their mind when they reach their next purchase cycle.

Email also plays an important role for distributing your content via social media. That may sound odd but a lot of people are not comfortable being seen to reshare content that’s sent to them directly from a brand, but if you can email the content to your most engaged nucleus, they will then share the content on your behalf, and their networks will then be far more inclined to engage with it themselves.

Email also plays an important role for distributing your content via social media. That may sound odd but a lot of people are not comfortable being seen to reshare content that’s sent to them directly from a brand, but if you can email the content to your most engaged nucleus, they will then share the content on your behalf, and their networks will then be far more inclined to engage with it themselves.

Analytics

The final part of any digital strategy for a professional service company is to ensure that the appropriate tracking is set up. Here are some of the things I would recommend putting in place:

  • Goal tracking for all email enquiries sent
  • A monetary valuation attached to each enquiry – this should be in revenue terms, although you also want to be clear on your profit figure per enquiry (lifetime profit value x conversion rate of enquiry) in order to manage your Cost Per Acquisition advertising model. By attributing a monetary value to each enquiry you can see the specific return delivered by each channel each month.
  • Landing page traffic – one issue from an analytics perspective that many professional service companies face is knowing which traffic graphs to look at. Most of the traffic to the blog, for example, will be of very limited value from a conversion perspective, where as there are other pages on the website, such as service pages, where the value of each visitor is really considerable. Tracking the performance of these pages in isolation is key if you are to rely understand the behaviour of your website in the search engines. Fortunately, segments can be created to only include traffic that land on certain key pages. I would highly recommend setting these up right at the start of your campaign so your reporting is focused on the metrics that matter!

For more information on developing a digital strategy for a professional service firm, please email hello@boss-digital.co.uk or call 01628 783973.

CONTACT US

Are you interested in our services? Contact us using one of the methods below.

\n


SERVICES

Explore all of our services below.

The first step is to perform in depth research into your business, target audience and competitors to develop a complete strategy for your brand and content, along with all paid and organic channels.

If required, we will then use our research to propose a complete brand identity, including your brand core, product features, organisational values and visual identity.

Before starting any content development, it’s essential that the technical foundations are in place, including domain health, site speed and mobile compatibility.

In order to differentiate the brand we need a number of big ideas to spearhead the content activity, driven by influencer engagement. There must also be a clear content framework that defines the subject and format of content within the monthly calendar.

once the content strategy is defined we need to be clear on the role and objective of each channel, including the search engines, email, blogging and social media sites.

Alongside the brand strategy there should be a targeted advertising campaign focused on lead generation within an agreed CPA (Cost Per Acquisition). Common channels for a CPA campaign include PPC, remarketing and social direct response.

We believe in rapid iteration and that requires regular analysis and reporting focused on a small number of key performance indicators, with the primary emphasis always on sales.