Modern marketing is all about diversity. Your prospects connect with your company through a wider variety of channels than ever before, so it's only natural that your marketing should reach those prospects through a diverse set of tactics. For professional services marketing, that might mean embracing some marketing channels you haven't used in the past. The important thing is to remain open-minded to new possibilities, and willing to alter your strategy when innovative options emerge.
Your professional services marketing plan can be broken down into three key elements. First, you have inbound marketing, which draws in prospects and generates leads. Next, you have referrals from satisfied customers, which are especially valuable when dealing with well-informed B2B prospects. Social selling is the final piece, and it's as important in B2B sales as it is in the B2C world. Let's take a look at each element individually, along with how they work together to create an effective, multifaceted marketing plan.
How Inbound Marketing Grows Business and Leads to Referrals
What's the first thing you do when a new product piques your interest, or you have a question that needs answering? If you're like most modern buyers, you pull out your smartphone and start conducting research. You might go straight to Google, or log in to your social media profiles to ask your connections some questions. Inbound marketing is primarily about ensuring that prospects find your content, not the competition's, when they're researching the type of solutions offered by your company.
Inbound is multifaceted in its own right. Your content might be the final destination, but there are many ways to drive prospects where you want them to go.
Start with SEO. Online search is the easiest, most popular way for prospects to locate information. If your content isn't showing up in the first page of search results, you're working from a major disadvantage.
Social media is also an important part of inbound. While there's plenty of overlap overlap, there are differences between social marketing and social selling. Social marketing is about generating excitement around your content, building trust, and growing your brand. We'll cover social selling in a bit.
The last key element of inbound marketing is the content itself. In professional services marketing, you're dealing with an especially well-informed audience. Rely on your creative staff and industry expertise to produce content that offers real value to potential customers.
Inbound marketing will generate leads. It's up to your sales staff to take the process from there. When you win a deal from a satisfied customer, don't waste any time before asking for referrals. A referral is really the ultimate type of inbound marketing, especially when dealing with savvy customers. The implicit trust built when one professional recommends a service to another is tough to beat, and will lead to more for your team more often than not.
Incorporating Social Selling into Your Professional Services Plan
What's the difference between social marketing and social selling? In simple terms, social marketing generates leads, while social selling generates conversions. Both are important, of course, and it's hard to have one without the other. For professional services companies, LinkedIn is the primary channel for social selling. Other social sites are still worth your time, but it's tough to go wrong putting most of your focus on LinkedIn.
Join LinkedIn groups based on the services you offer, and your primary target audience. Get involved in discussions to share your industry knowledge, and establish relationships with your prospects. Sharing interesting content from outside sources is a great way to spark relationships.
When you send a sales message on LinkedIn, be sure to read through the recipient's profile page first. Look for common interests, and anything you can use to connect with the prospect on a more personal level.
With social selling, it's important to respect the rules and conventions of the community. Every social site has its own community etiquette, so do some research before diving in.
You're probably noticing a theme, at this point. Effective social selling requires some involvement in the community on your end. If all you do is send cookie-cutter sales messages through social, you won't find success. Connect with the prospect first, then move toward the conversion.
The truth is that all aspects of professional services marketing are related. Your online ads, social sharing, SEO, and email marketing guide prospects to your content. Your content and social interactions establish relationships and build trust. From there, the sale is practically teed up for your sales team. They just need to do what they do best, and close the deal.