Although we still have some time to finish out the current year, a few interesting trends are emerging for professional services firms in 2018.
One thing that's for sure - the professional services marketing world is changing rapidly and you can't rest on your laurels. Staying on top of emerging trends and taking advantage of them will help you keep one step ahead of the competition.
Here are 3 professional services marketing trends to keep in mind as you plan for 2018.
1. Marketing spend is shifting from paid media to earned media
A new survey from DemandGen Report and Cision shows that B2B companies are shifting investment from paid media to earned media.
Let's start with a few definitions:
Earned media - endorsements from third parties that you haven't paid for such as social media shares, likes, and reposts of your content.
Paid media - promotion from paid sources like pay-per-click advertising, retargeting and social media advertising.
Owned media - content that you create and own like blog posts, videos, eBooks, and webinars.
Why are B2B businesses shifting spend away from paid media? The primary reasons are declining performance of paid media and the need to supplement traditional outbound demand generation. Specifically, here's what the survey found.
The primary reason for increasing spend on earned media is to drive high-level brand awareness, but businesses also want to generate leads with earned media. Here's what the survey found.
What can you do to incorporate an earned media strategy into your professional services marketing strategy?
Focus on the quality of your content marketing - rather than pumping out a high quantity of mediocre content, cut down on publication frequency and focus on publishing high-quality content. This will often mean that you're publishing more comprehensive blog posts, videos, and infographics that address your target buyer profile's pain points. We're cutting back on our publication frequency from weekly to 2-3 times per month. We hope to create comprehensive content that really helps our professional services customers.
Create case studies with your satisfied customers - get your customers involved in your case studies. Make it about them and not about you! A customer singing your praises is ten times more valuable than recounting what you've done for them. And getting them involved will get them to share the content through their social and other media channels.
Identify and establish relationships with influencers in your industry - this may mean re-focusing on traditional PR with influential media outlets in your industry. It also involves identifying influences and establishing relationships with them. Share their content and look for opportunities to ask for their help (after you have earned the right.)
2. Take a second look at Facebook marketing
Many B2B businesses (mine included) initially invested in Facebook marketing and pulled away after lackluster results. 2018 is the year to take a fresh look at Facebook marketing.
I found one aspect of the study particularly eye-opening. When asked, "Where do you go to catch up on news, business, and lifestyle stories online?" 52% responded, "Search in Google or other search engines." No big surprise, right?
What was surprising was that 48% responded: "Read my Facebook feed." That's right, almost as many people use Facebook as Google to keep up on news, business, and lifestyle stories. This was consistent across all age categories.
This is closely related to the goal of earned media to increase brand awareness. Do you want to use Facebook to close deals with C-suite executives? Probably not. But you can make that executive aware of your company as they scroll through their Facebook feed.
And rest assured, they are scrolling through their Facebook feeds. The preference for Facebook was consistent across all age groups.
I recently spoke with the CEO of a cybersecurity company that is using Facebook's targeting capabilities to generate awareness and leads with some of his key target accounts.
Paid Facebook promotion is a nice compliment to an earned media strategy for driving brand awareness and lead generation.
What can you do to incorporate a Facebook marketing strategy into your professional services marketing strategy?
Redesign your Facebook company page - invest resources in designing your Facebook company page to support your current marketing messaging and strategy. Just as with your website, your Facebook page should convey professionalism and expertise when that target C-suite executive is checking it out.
Use Facebook as a key component of your content promotion strategy - post your content regularly and pay attention to the data. Visual content like videos and infographics works well on Facebook, so make sure you're not just publishing
Experiment with Facebook advertising - in most cases, Facebook ads are cheaper than LinkedIn promotion or Google AdWords. Experiment with targeting and ad content to zero in on what is most effective.
3. Video marketing continues to grow in popularity
If you don't think video marketing is important, consider this statistic: Cisco is projecting that videos will make up 84% of all internet traffic in 2018.
- Oral presentation - these participants retained 10% of the information
- Visual presentation - these participants retained 20% of the information
- Oral + visual presentation - these participants retained 65% of the information!
You don't have to invest a ton of money to produce videos. High-quality cameras on today's smartphone and abundant video editing software choices make it easy for even the smallest of businesses to produce highly effective videos. However, if you have the budget, consider outsourcing video production to professionals.
What can you do to incorporate video into your professional services marketing strategy?
Incorporate video into your content marketing strategy - consider using video for case studies and to explain how your business solves problems. Keep in mind that the first 10 seconds are important to engage the viewer and most videos should be 90 seconds or less.
Educate yourself on the basics of video production - there are many free resources to learn how to produce highly effective videos. For example, you can light a conference room for video production for under $200 - click through the link above to learn how.
Incorporate video into your social media marketing and sales efforts - Video is highly effective in social media marketing, Facebook engagement is 13.9% higher for video posts. And video makes for compelling sales messages, using the word video in your email subject line increases open rates by 19% and clickthrough rates by 65%.
Content marketing is still a highly effective tactic for professional services firms, but the rules of the game are rapidly changing. One thing that isn't changing is what your purpose for content marketing should be - to be helpful and show your target buyers how to solve problems. The trick is effectively getting their attention. Consider incorporating these three trends into your professional services marketing strategy in 2018.