Rachel is Marketing Manager at Cal Partners and is a Chartered Marketer. She began working in marketing in 2007 and has a particular specialism in the professional services sector.
2021 Trends for Professional Services Marketing
If we want to take anything away from such a challenging year, being agile and digital savvy are key for any business.
The world of marketing has changed for many businesses and in particular professional services firms such as solicitors, barristers, accountants, chartered surveyors and financial advisers.
Everything went online overnight!
With remote working, Zoom calls, webinars and trying to reach existing and potential clients online, the world of digital business transformed very quickly.
Firms had to swiftly adapt so their staff could work from home, as well as waking up to the realisation that digital marketing has never been so important to keep people connected and to stay “front of mind” with their target audience.
For a sector that has heavily relied on more traditional marketing activities, the Coronavirus pandemic has certainly awakened firms to get up to speed with digital marketing initiatives, for example:
- Social Media Marketing - from content generation, ramping up posts and social media advertising, firms have had to put more effort into their social media presence.
- Content Marketing - be it through webinars, video, blogging and thought leadership content, firms have seen the need to raise their online profile and stand out as experts in their sector.
- Digital Marketing – as everyone moved online, it became more important than ever to be visible through boosting Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), Pay Per Click (PPC), as well as paid social media campaigns.
Time, budget and resource taken up within marketing is always a worry and because of this, some firms have not been able to maximise opportunities to full potential. Having seen first-hand whilst sorting a personal matter in recent months, it is worth noting that there is no point in investing or ramping up digital marketing efforts if the basics of customer care are not in place with enquiries, messages and calls not being answered. Firms are wasting opportunities by not providing first class customer service and responding efficiently, a topic that we have covered in a previous blog.
Where do we go now?
Usually, marketing is the first thing that many professional services firms cut or stop during challenging times. Firms should in fact do the opposite and maintain their current marketing budget and/or increase their marketing activity, particularly while competitors are reducing theirs.
Uncertainties caused by the pandemic should also give business owners and firms an opportunity to look at how they maintain and grow their business.
With everyone jumping on the same bandwagon, and not another Zoom webinar I hear you say, it is important to strategically think about and plan your digital marketing and what will make you stand out from the crowd.
- Be Agile – although we desperately want things to go back to normal, making sure you have an agile set up and continue to be able to work in this way allows you to provide your services as normally and flexibly as possible. Embrace digital transformation – are there other ways of communicating that will benefit you and your clients, such as a WhatsApp for Business or automated SMS text messaging?
- Social Media – the time people spend online has dramatically increased during the pandemic and firms can use social media to increase their reach with new audiences and engage with clients, highlighting that they are still “open for business”. Firms can generate regular posts, monitor engagement, and attract new business cost effectively through social media.
- Maximise your social proof – it’s not always easy to demonstrate why you should be first choice for prospective clients with so much competition. Client testimonials, Google reviews, Facebook/LinkedIn recommendations and case studies can all be very persuasive and with the ease of online research and ability to ask for recommendations on social media, now is the time to stand out with your social proof. Remember, potential clients are more interested in what your clients have to say about you as opposed to what you have to say about yourself.
- Google listings and SEO – keeping your listings updated allows your customers to know of any changes in your hours, promotions, blogs. Undertake keyword research using SEO tools and tracking your website traffic will identify areas needed for improvement.
- PPC – are you utilising automated bidding in Google Ads? Automated bidding takes away the heavy lifting and guesswork out of setting bids to meet your performance goals such as website visits, conversions which in the long run saves you time and money.
- Content – we all know how important content marketing is and have seen the increase in areas such as video, webinars and animation. The challenge for 2021 is to stand out, being different and making your content more interactive and engaging. Polls, interactive video, competitions, and quizzes are a great way to increase reach. Adding an interactive element on your website will provide value to your visitors and help to increase engagement, examples include a tax saving calculator tool for an accountant or pension calculator for a financial adviser.
- Mix on and offline – hopefully, we will see some normality in 2021 and as well planning more digital and online initiatives, looking forward to more face to face meetings, networking, or a hybrid approach such as livestreaming of events with limited delegate numbers. With more people at home, even old-fashioned direct mail may help you to communicate effectively with your target audience.
- Think outside the box – with professional services often reliant on more traditional marketing strategies, now is the time to get up to speed with more modern approaches. Think about the power of voice search and influencer marketing, getting to grips with these trends early will give you advantage over your competitors.
Award winning North East digital marketing agency, Cal Partners can audit your current marketing and online activity and build a realistic strategy to suit your business needs, maximise potential to connect with your target audience and stand out from the competition.