Professional services firms often struggle with their own branding, social media and marketing. Typically, it's because the services they offer are so similar to their competition, there's no real platform or defined difference to create anything concrete. It's sometimes difficult to tell them apart.
We're fortunate to work with many professional services organizations (architects, financial services, healthcare, technology, etc.) to help develop memorable messaging and marketing strategies. And typically the first place this new thinking will appear is on the company website.
Here's some helpful perspective on what you should consider as you build your professional service firm’s marketing materials and website.
Celebrate your difference
There is hardly a client meeting I go to where someone doesn’t mention their competition. It seems the grass is always greener, and there is always a competitor that sticks out in people’s minds as being the company to beat.
Our advice is rather than try to emulate your competition, declare your differences and turn them into advantages. Turn your differences into positioning and messaging that works across all of your marketing. Compete with them by not competing. Change the conversation to make theirs irrelevant.
Worry less about traffic. Worry more about conversion.
All too often, professional services firms look to their websites to establish credibility and produce leads. Traffic is great, of course, but conversion is better.
We see a lot of conversation around SEO, but far less effort goes into creating a reason for people to fill out a form, or call a phone number. When planning a website, focus on the idea that every page is a chance to come closer to conversion. Make people want to get in touch with you.
Proving you can do the work is just the beginning. Highlight what sets you apart.
Having a section of your work / case studies is not enough. A lot of professional services are a commodity. It’s sad, but true. The audience looks for a certain level of expertise or professionalism in your case studies, and good work is becoming the norm, not the exception. Having a certain caliber of work will get you accepted in the audience’s mind, but is often not enough to win business by itself.
It’s important to not only have the level of work clients expect, but also strive to have a unique perspective on your industry. “Here’s our point of view, and here’s the work it produces.”
Use calls to action. Ask your audience to do something.
You might be surprised how many professional service firms totally lack any calls to action besides a Contact Us section of their website. Simply put, ask your audience to do something on every page of your website. Ask them to sign up for newsletters, follow you on Twitter, or like you on Facebook. By doing so, you’re gaining their permission to continue the conversation long after they leave your website. It’s established that giving the audience direction, even though it may seem obvious, improves response.
Give them a reason to come back.
There’s nothing worse then websites that never update. Or update so infrequently it hardly matters. Professional service firms should create content their audience finds helpful or entertaining. Those are really the two main purposes people use the web. For helpful advice... and cat pictures.
Professional service websites should have blogs. It doesn’t matter if you call it ‘news’, ‘insights’, ‘deep thoughts’, or ‘updates’. Content creation is important for any digital marketing strategy. It's the best marketing advice that no one wants to hear and firms often struggle with the concept because it forces the principals in the company to expose their thinking. And that can be scary. But it’s easier than you think, and you’re harder on yourself than your audience will be.
Use social media and email newsletters to stay in front of your audience.
Use social media and email newsletters as ways to remind your audience who you are and what your firm is about. Social media remains a mystery for some professional service firms. The biggest question they have is not ‘what is social media’ but ‘what should I say?’ Turn the updates from your website into content to fuel social media. Even if you have hardly any followers. It’s an easy strategy and everyone has to start somewhere.
Design always matters.
Good design makes the content you’re delivering digestible and palatable. Your website should look great and instill confidence in your audience. It seems like obvious advice, but it’s important.
At the end of the day, a website should inform, inspire and reassure its audience about their purchasing decisions.
Mike Spakowski is Principal / Creative Director of Atomicdust and is involved with the day-to-day design strategy, art direction and studio management.