As the world grapples with the global coronavirus pandemic, the ability to quickly adjust, adapt and pivot has never been more valuable—or more necessary.
Many professional services firms rely heavily on in-person meetings and events to generate leads. But with in-person anything canceled for the foreseeable future, these firms are facing a quandary: how to engage and sell in a world that seemingly changed overnight.
Because when the world changed, so did prospective clients. They’re no longer looking for information in the same places (goodbye tradeshows and conferences; hello webinars, videos and podcasts). And with rapidly shifting business priorities, the information they’re looking for is different too.
So what’s a resilient professional services firm to do? It’s time to power up your digital presence.
5 tips for energizing your digital presence
With prospective clients moving online in droves, having a powerful digital presence is vital to attracting, engaging and converting them.
You know you can charm and convince anyone you can get in the same room with. But what about in a virtual space? Are you able to clearly and consistently communicate (and prove) your value across your digital content?
Your digital assets must be able to stand—and dynamically sell—on their own, enabling prospective clients to educate themselves fully without the benefit of having someone there in person to tell your firm’s story.
Digital assets are often left to run in the background. We create them. We build campaigns that drive people to them. But we don’t usually have time to really look at everything we have and how it all works—or doesn’t work—together.
Before you dive into updating your digital presence, you need to better understand what digital assets you have, what channels you’re using and how you’re using them. Conducting an audit will give you the lay of your digital landscape while helping you identify gaps and opportunities.
As mentioned before, the pandemic has profoundly affected the behavior of your prospective clients. They have new reasons to buy and not to buy. They’re looking for different kinds of information. And faced with mounting concerns, they want more reassurance and guidance. This means the tactics that worked last quarter may not work this quarter.
Conducting a digital audit that also takes into account how your prospects have changed will give you a clear strategy for the assets you need to create and update as well as the channels you need to use to engage your audience in these unique circumstances.
|Prospective Clients||Digital Assets + Channels|
|Do you know where they search for information online?||Do you have a presence there?|
Are you actively updating and promoting engagement in that channel?
|Do you know what types of information or proof are important to them when evaluating professional services firms?||Do you have content that provides that information or proof?|
Are you presenting that information or proof in a compelling and comprehensive way?
|Do you know what types of information they value or content they like to consume?||Are you providing those types of information and content?|
Are they easily accessible or findable?
For obvious reasons, your website is one of the greatest tools in your arsenal for engaging prospective clients right now. Your immediate task is to make sure it’s optimized to provide the same expertise, information, resources and personality that you would deliver in person.
With prospective clients currently in education mode, you should pay particular attention to your services page and case studies.
Your services or solutions page needs to describe your offerings in a way that prospects can understand easily on their own. The two most common pitfalls we see professional services clients make are providing either a laundry list of services that are difficult for prospects to sort through or, at the other end of the spectrum, service descriptions that are so high-level and vague that prospects can’t understand what they really encompass.
Case studies are critical social proof for prospective clients. If you don’t currently have any on your website, now is an excellent time to start creating them. If you have case studies, make sure they clearly express what your firm did to deliver value for the client. Be specific about solution details and highlight the benefits that matter most to prospective clients, not just those you’re proudest of.
Prospective clients aren’t just looking for information about your services right now. They’re looking for information about how to navigate uncertainties and do their jobs in a changed world. So while selling is important, creating content that adds value is essential.
Demand for relevant and useful content is high. By focusing on where you can offer unique perspectives and insights into current challenges, you’ll start creating connections with your audience now while building the foundation for future sales.
If you don’t have a blog, it’s a great time to start one. Or to fire up the existing blog that hasn’t seen a fresh post in months. Content is more than blog posts, though. Consider investing time in developing other formats like videos, webinars and podcasts, which allow you to create interactive content without the risk of actual interaction.
Short on resources or time? Take a fresh look at your existing content and identify ways you can update or improve it from both an information and an SEO perspective.
While more traditional marketing forms have taken a hit, social media is flourishing. In the age of social distancing, people are turning to LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc. to get updates, share information and establish a sense of community. An active social media presence can boost engagement and help initiate conversations with prospective clients.
Your audience not only uses social channels differently, but each channel has strengths and weaknesses to be aware of. You’ll need to know when your target audience frequents each channel and what kind of content they like to interact with there.
As you expand your social media efforts, make sure your social presence is up to date—including imagery and company descriptions. And don’t be afraid to try new features like Facebook Live and Instagram Stories, or to add channels like YouTube and Pinterest to share the visual content you’re creating.
In addition to sharing information, social is an excellent place to gather intel to feed your messaging and content strategy. What are your prospective clients talking about? What can you learn about their challenges and what they need to address them? Those insights will help your social channels become resources your prospective clients can turn to in search of answers.
From social to Google and Microsoft search, ads are a smart place to invest some time and money right now. While people may not be buying, they’re still searching and clicking. So instead of promoting your services or solutions, you’ll need to create ads for gated content that’s more educational in nature and then follow up with a nurture campaign.
If you have a planning tool or workbook that you use to help your clients, share it with prospects through online advertising. Genuinely helpful content is always popular and will likely be valued even more as companies look for guidance to help them stay on the right track.
LinkedIn is a great fit for promoting educational content, but Google and Microsoft search could also be good advertising channels if you can find a relevant keyword that will get your content in front of the right people.
Of course, you might have a product or service that people are still buying right now. If that’s the case, ads are a great way to take advantage of the lower cost per click because there is less competition for ad space.