If you own a professional services business, then you already understand how central people are to the success of your company. Instead of a one-time transaction, you want to build long-lasting client relationships and provide a valuable service.
Content marketing is a form of promotion that allows you to do exactly that with both present and prospective clients. By producing helpful content, you can show off your group’s expertise and meet clients where they’re at.
This article will clearly explain the importance of digital marketing for professional services, break down the fundamentals of marketing with content, and give you a step-by-step guide to developing your own content marketing for professional services.
Why You Need to Know How to Market Professional Services
Content marketing, which thrives in the digital sphere, is a bedrock of modern marketing. According to Statista, 83% of the world’s population—which translates to nearly 6.65 billion people—use a smartphone.
This means that your firm’s best chance of reaching out to potential clients is through quality content marketing that is available to read online through computers, smartphones, and other Internet-enabled devices.
Apart from its critical role in reaching your potential clientele, content marketing also offers a chance for your professional agency to stand out. Unlike a company that sells a specific product, your business specializes in providing a unique, high-quality service.
Meanwhile, the best content marketing is all about providing expertise and valuable information to readers. This means that content marketing gives you the chance to:
- Show your company’s expertise and ability to provide new knowledge
- Show that you care about providing a helpful service for your clients
- Create interest in your company itself instead of just a product
Utilizing the Four Pillars of Digital Marketing for Professional Services
As a specific type of marketing, content marketing in particular shares many of the same foundational values.
The Four Pillars of Traditional Marketing
In traditional marketing, the four pillars are listed as:
- Product/Service (What are you providing to the client?)
- Price (How much do you charge for your product or service?)
- Place (Where is your target audience, and where will you market your product or service?)
- Promotion (Which channels will you use to get the message out about your product or service?)
Unlike with traditional marketing, there is no definitive list of the four pillars of content marketing. However, the list above is helpful and can be modified for a content marketing strategy.
Take time to determine what unique your firm or agency provides to clients. Do you specialize in a specific type of law, accounting, or business consultation?
What value can you provide to clients, and what kind of marketing content can you produce to demonstrate that valuable expertise?
How much you charge for your services will vary depending on the extent of services that a client orders. A CPA will probably charge different amounts for doing a private individual’s personal taxes once a month versus handling a business’s books every month.
Regardless of how much you expect to charge your potential clients, you want to convey an appropriate sense of value in your content marketing.
If, for example, your law firm is accustomed to providing legal services for high-net-worth individuals, then your blog articles, website layout, and the other aspects of your content marketing strategy should respect that level of polish.
On the other hand, perhaps your professional services industry is geared toward a lower-income audience. In that case, your content marketing should maintain a sense of professionalism without being so formal that you scare off potential clients who worry that they won’t be able to afford your services.
As already mentioned, one of content marketing’s greatest strengths is its ability to reach virtually anywhere on the planet with an Internet connection. Still, your clientele likely has some geographical limits to it.
If your firm provides in-person professional services based out of Chicago, it probably wouldn’t make sense to spend a lot of time attracting potential business in Bangladesh. Cater your content marketing strategy to whatever geographic region you serve.
“Content marketing” is an umbrella term that includes a variety of services, including SEO-friendly blog articles, web copy, email newsletters, videos, and social media posts. Determine which of these media will best suit your agency in the digital sphere.
What Makes Content Marketing for Professional Services Unique?
There are fundamental principles for any business that uses content marketing, whether that company is selling cleaning supplies or offering rental services. Beyond those key pillars, however, digital marketing for professional services has a few other unique factors.
Subject Matter Expertise
While any decent salesman will be familiar with the product he is selling, he may not necessarily be an expert on his industry as a whole. In fact, he may not necessarily even be considered an authority on a given specialty, or “niche,” within his field.
By contrast, a professional services agency needs to understand its industry and niche inside and out. Your content needs to make it clear that your firm understands its specialty even better than the competition.
A reader should come away from your blogs or newsletters convinced that no one can answer questions in this field better than your team can.
This difficult task is best accomplished by a dedicated team of writers and researchers who know how to market professional services. These individuals can study the industry and produce valuable content for your clients.
Understanding Your Clients
Every successful marketing campaign relies upon a solid grasp of its target audience. However, since strong, ongoing client relationships are at the heart of successful professional services, your content marketing strategy needs to go a step beyond in your knowledge of your potential clients.
Your content marketing campaign must be shaped to match the specific needs of your future customers. For instance, if your management consulting firm focuses on operations consultation, then your content marketing strategy should include videos, podcasts, and blog posts that provide tips and how-to’s that are relevant to the operations side of running a business.
A Step-by-Step Guide to Content Marketing Strategy
Developing and implementing a content marketing strategy may seem intimidating at first. However, following our seven steps of content marketing, which are based on the pillars and principles outlined above, will provide your firm with a roadmap going forward.
1. Learn your industry market and competitors
It isn’t enough just to be a subject matter expert in your field, although that is essential. Your firm also needs to have a feel for your competition. Do any of your rivals produce a weekly blog or a monthly e-newsletter? What kind of videos or podcasts are your competitors producing?
Once you’ve scouted out the field, you can determine which areas you can one-up the competition and provide improved value to potential clients. If your law firm specializes in estate planning, but your competitors haven’t yet produced content for clients with smaller estates or lower net worth, that may be a growth opportunity for your own content marketing.
2. Learn your target audience
As discussed earlier, content marketing is most effective when it is catered to the specific clientele that you wish to reach. Don’t write a blog post that is so broad that it could apply to just about anyone.
If you want to provide consulting services for up-and-coming entrepreneurs rather than well-established owners, then research what sort of content appeals to new business owners.
3. Choose your business’s specialty, or “niche”
You can’t be all things to all people. Your team must focus on specific parts of your industry, and your content marketing strategy is no different. Carve out a unique niche that will allow your newsletters, blogs, and videos to stand out in your field.
4. Develop your marketing pitch and focused message
It is easy to get off-track and distracted when producing content for a marketing campaign. One of the best ways to stay centered is to reduce the appeal of your agency down to an elevator pitch. What does your group excel at, and how can you convey that message to others as succinctly as possible?
Once you’ve determined what your focused message is, you can use it as the gold standard for future content. Every blog post, podcast, or newsletter should somehow tie into the main pitch or takeaway that you want to leave your clients with.
5. Decide which marketing media to utilize
As you’ve gathered by now, there are plenty of media through which you can create and distribute content from your agency. Here are some of the methods for getting the word out through content marketing:
Regular, consistent blogging should be the heart of every content marketing strategy, no matter the industry. A majority of marketers find value in blogging, and firms that blog can expect to see 67% more leads than non-blogging businesses.
By posting on a blog, your firm can produce content that gives valuable information to clients in a clear, understandable, and straightforward manner. This accomplishes the goal of proving your subject matter expertise, and articles that are written to address specific issues for a particular clientele will meet the need of catering to your niche.
Blogging by itself has plenty of benefits, but it can take your marketing to the next level through the use of search engine optimization (SEO) techniques. Blogs filled with search-friendly keywords, helpful external links, and a readable format can place your website further up on Google’s top search results.
Videos and Podcasts
Like blogging, producing videos and podcasts allows your agency to provide subject matter expertise and quality information to prospective clients. You can also reach different demographics that listen to podcasts and watch online videos but may not regularly read blogs.
Unlike blog articles, however, podcasts and videos are sometimes less helpful to clients who want an answer to a question that they can consume at their own pace.
Social Media Posts
Nearly three-quarters of the US population use social media, so any content marketing strategy that doesn’t take advantage of platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and even Snapchat or Instagram is missing out big-time.
Your strategy should include automatically posting any new blog article, video, or other form of content to all of your agency’s current social media platforms. In addition, you can use social media to post updates about your professional services, client appreciation events, and client testimonials.
Is there a topic about which your agency can produce valuable content for a dedicated group of readers every month, or even every week?
A monthly or weekly newsletter can include a round-up of recent blog posts and videos, subscriber-exclusive articles, and links for all the latest goings-on at your firm.
Live Streams and Virtual Events
Similar to producing content purposes through a video or podcast, you can market your agency through Livestream events. For instance, you could live stream a roundtable discussion between your management consultant team members about a pertinent issue in the field of IT consulting.
One benefit of live streams and similar virtual events is that they invite audience participation, such as through responding to chat comments or answering audience questions live.
6. Set realistic goals for marketing outcomes
Entering the field of content marketing is exciting, but you must be careful to avoid being either too ambitious or too timid with what you want your strategy to accomplish. Whichever audience you decide to target and whichever media you choose to use, it’s a good idea to have a SMART goal:
- Specific (What do you want to accomplish, and how?)
- Measurable (How will you determine if you have succeeded?)
- Achievable (Is this goal possible given your current abilities?)
- Relevant (Does this goal match with your overall purpose?)
- Time-Bound (How soon do you plan to have achieved this goal?)
Setting a SMART goal will help you put these content marketing principles into actual practice.
7. Determine your budget for content marketing
After you’ve created a game plan for your content marketing for professional services, decide how much you are going to devote to your new strategy.
For example, if you choose to pursue content marketing through blogging, you may decide to hire either in-house content writers or use freelancers. Or, producing high-quality videos may require purchasing new A/V equipment.
Once you’ve learned about your competitors and your audience, determined your industry niche and marketing pitch, picked your favorite forms of digital marketing, and set both a goal and a budget, you will be on the verge of a solid content marketing strategy.
Find a Content Marketing Services Partner Today
We hope you have found this article helpful as we have explained the importance, purpose, and next steps for creating a content marketing strategy for your professional services business. By studying your audience and providing insightful, informational content, you can market your agency as a group of subject matter experts who can provide an invaluable service to your clients.