As we explored in a previous blog, Surviving the Disruption in Financial Services, recent disruptions of the professional services marketplace are leading to the adoption of new strategies for building and augmenting reputations, network building, and business growth.
For a sign of the times, just look at the explosive growth of LinkedIn. To date, there are over 500 million LinkedIn members, compared to 467 million users in October of 2016. This is also the best platform for Financial Services to win back trust in the industry given that is so widely used. More and more of professional life is moving online – and the professional services world is no exception. Increasingly, the businesses who succeed are the ones that learn to leverage online marketing effectively.
What are some of the most important advantages of Online Marketing Strategies for Small Business or Professional Services Firms today?
1) Position your business as the expert
The web is such a powerful platform because it allows you to use content to get your message across and demonstrate expertise in topics relevant to your target audience. You can accomplish this offline as well, but online tools make it much easier to reach a wide and relevant audience. Blogging, social media, and webinars all allow you to educate your audience on topics that matter to them, illustrating your expertise in the process.
2) Relationship building
Online marketing allows you to create new relationships in a targeted way that simply wasn’t possible twenty years ago. Email marketing, keyword phrase targeting, and other strategies can help you target a tailored message with laser precision to, say, the CEO’s of the hundred largest businesses in your industry.
Beyond targeting messages, you can use LinkedIn Groups to network and converse with other industry leaders in an ongoing way. Online tools allow you to both meet new clients, colleagues, and influencers and strengthen relationships with those you already know.
3) Niche targeting
Just as you can build relationships in a targeted way, online marketing empowers you to target a highly specific vertical or niche, delivering your message to a wide audience that needs your services. You can do this relatively inexpensively by targeting keywords in educational blog posts, or participating in groups or industry hashtags on social media. Online marketing allows you to zero in on a niche easily and efficiently.
4) Better for the bottom line
A study by HubSpot found that inbound leads – leads generated online through sources such as blogging, social media, and SEO – cost 61% less than traditional outbound leads. It’s not hard to see why. With online marketing, there are no travel costs, and you don’t have to pay for printing to distribute materials. Server costs, by contrast, are relatively low.
Some of your advertising costs can be replaced by online marketing tools, as well – and these online tools usually “pull more weight” by integrating with the rest of your online marketing program. Guest posts on industry blogs or publications, for example, can drive traffic to your site, build your reputation, and fuel conversation on social media.
5) Be visible to be researched
One of the best Online Marketing Strategies for Small Business that we can’t stress enough, is by being visible to be researched. We searched the internet for a more complete understanding of how purchasers research the Services they are contemplating on using in today’s marketplace. We found that three of the top four most common ways professional services buyers check out firms are online.
Figure 1. How Buyers “research” Professional Services Providers
Websites are the top method by far, followed by online search, friends and colleagues, and social media. These methods eclipse formal references, which are used by just over 55% of firms. On average, buyers seem to use around 3 of these methods – so most of their attention is typically online.
6) Reach your target audience
Today, it’s important for you to be visible where your potential clients are looking. More and more, that means your business needs a robust and diversified presence online. From our research, we found that purchasers are looking for experts online in many ways, including in search engines, by reading online reviews, on social media, through webinars, and more.
If they search for you online, you must be easy to find. If you don’t have an online marketing component, potential clients will go looking for more information about you – and they won’t find you.
By using content marketing could help with this too, as you could even find ‘invisible’ prospects. Posting blog posts on a particular set of challenges or opportunities – and including the right keyword phrases so search engines pick up on them – allows you to “plant a flag” in the topic, helping the right audiences find your work and your firm.
In conclusion, online marketing provides a suite of powerful tools to help grow your reach and reputation – and ultimately, your business itself. By fully leveraging the advantages of online marketing through tools such as content marketing, social media, email marketing, online video, and more, you can create a powerful lead-generating machine that puts your business on the path to greater profitability and success.
Additional Resources for Online Marketing Strategies for Small Business:
Find help here on using LinkedIn for Networking and Lead Generation
Our E-book on How to Woo Your Clients in the Digital Age
Sue Mills is a marketing, sales and digital specialist to the financial and professional service sector, and the owner of Sassy Marketing & Communications. With over 20 years of experience working for and with financial planners, accountants, brokers and advisors she shows her clients how to step up and out to be sustainable and thrive in their practices through adopting smart and valuable marketing strategies. Call Sue on 0477 468 888 for a confidential discussion or visit www.sassy.marketing