Clients of professionals services firms, like the world around them, have changed immeasurably over the past decade. Referrals are no longer the preferred way of generating new business; having an online presence nowadays is non-negotiable, as more than 90% of online adults use search engines to find information on the web. Experts at Propero Partners, a marketing agency dedicated to professional services, share how professional services firms can keep up with their changing clientele.
Back in 2014, the senior director for marketing at Adobe said that, “the majority of marketers believe that marketing has changed more in the last two years than in the last 50.” Now five years later, with the advent of artificial intelligence algorithms tracking everything and everyone, marketing has changed again. It is now driven by vast amounts of data – what you do, what you buy, your age – to build a complete picture of your wants and needs.
Among the changes, the foremost is the ease of discovery that search engines allow. Clients are capable of easily finding what they want at the touch of a button. They know what they want, they know how to do it themselves, and it has ultimately given them much more control over what and how they purchase. Alongside this, they have higher expectations from service providers and consultants to deliver an exceptional service. The challenge lies, then, in trying to explain why they need support with their business.
For professional services firms, one way to do this is by carving out a niche in a field that will continuously attract client demand. In differentiating your consultancy from the competition, you are both focusing your expertise and proving to prospects that your firm is the best for the job. Become an authority by using data-driven marketing in your efforts to secure new clients.
If you are not doing so already, you can use data to guide the content you send to prospects – information they can use to gain the attention of their bosses– to show them what they are doing well, how they could improve things, which campaigns are working or not working and so on. This approach demonstrates that your consulting firm carries out in-depth research before reaching out. Clients don’t just buy services anymore, they buy know-how and the promise of results. If you can provide both, then you’ll double your chances of being hired.
Clients are also much more self-aware these days, because digital expertise on their side has grown. They are increasingly digitally native, because they’ve lived and worked in the ‘computer age’. But not only that, they are accustomed to modern marketing methods, which means they have been barraged with adverts – on billboards, in magazines, on the internet, social media – for years, becoming almost immune to its effects, according to Forbes.
Yet playing to a client’s self-interest can be an easy win. They don’t necessarily care about you or your firm, but they do care about how you can make them look and what you can do for them. They want to be seen as leaders in their field. When you send them content that they can share, with detailed and data-led research, they can demonstrate they are cutting edge, forward-thinking leaders.
Online, tailored and fast
Better still, conduct research projects yourself on your target industries to get the insight that few, if any, others are getting. Your findings will give clients industry knowledge, including pain points and needs, outside influences, and problem-solving insights to help them make decisions on their next step. In doing so, you will position your consultancy as go-to source, and that’s a more powerful marketing strategy than any advertising.
Finally, the new breed of client will not wait for you. Due to ease of discovery, cheaper pricing, and the sheer amount of choice, you need to be quick, available at a moment’s notice and be able to facilitate their every demand. If you aren’t, they will find someone else who is.
Future clients will expect this and more; you must rank highly on Google, be able to demonstrate your expertise at every touch point and need to be available 24-hours a day in some capacity, on WhatsApp, WeChat, live chat or their equivalent. And because the online world moves at such a pace, last month’s ideas and concepts can quickly become old news, so you need to be constantly upskilling and knowledge-sharing.
One-on-one service, with up-to-the-minute data and an inclination to work at speeds not before seen is becoming the norm, especially in the professional services industry.