The default strategy for B2B professional services sellers is to call clients directly, set up meetings, and write proposals. That was how it was done for decades, and it worked.
With all the media clients now peruse, they are more likely to search and discover what you know about them and how you align with their mission. If nothing tells your story the way you want, clients will subconsciouslydisqualify you based on what they find in cyberspace.
Don’t take that risk. Follow these 10 B2B marketing strategies for growing your professional services firm.
1. Identify your strengths – this is your brand – know exactly how it performs
Professional service brandsstruggle to differentiate from competitors. Their services are standardized by bar associations, professional engineering associations, etc. – a minimum service level is expected, and to their detriment, sometimes this is as far as professionals go.Clients have noticed, and because of it,often choose based on price.
Professional service clientsdefine value their own way, and to stand out, service providers must choose an area in which to compete. This is your space, the place where you are the undisputed leader. It could mean being the biggest with the largest pool of subject matter experts.
It could be your project management practices, which reduce costs and deliver results earlier than expected. It could be a more pleasant experience or a stronger connection to the community.
Do your research. Find out what is possible for you, and what is most needed in your market. Wherever those two converge, decide what you offer and stick with it. Don’t try to be all things to all people.
2. Know your clients and what they want
Different B2B professional services clients value different things. Some want cost savings, minimized risk, or reduced interruptions to operations. Some want sustainable solutions. Some want cultural sensitivity, diversity, and inclusion.
Through research and asking clients the right questions(while keeping detailed CRM records of what you’ve learned), build an understanding of what is important to each client sector you work with, even down to the individual clients. Adapt. Develop ways to meet needs individually.
Whatever it is, learn what clients value, why, and how to deliver it consistently.In your marketing, find out how to express and reinforce these unique capabilities – if your B2B marketing reads like all the others, you haven’t successfully differentiated.
3. Gather compelling stories about your work
A story about a project is the best way to express what your brand is capable of, and especially in your niche. A bland description of services rendered will not have the same impact, so professional services providers must step out of the comfort zone.
Learn how to express what you’ve done for a client in terms of the pain you alleviated. Don’t be afraid to characterize that pain. Without it, new clients will not be able to see why you were needed in the first place. They won’t be able to see the difference youmade.
What was the client dealing with? Deteriorating infrastructure? A complex merger or acquisition? A web site bogged down with user requests?How did you solve the problem?
4. Get stories onto searchable and responsive media (including your kick-ass, inbound lead generating web site)
To tell compelling B2B marketing stories, use advertising,email, video, client testimonials, humor, and inspiration. Advertise in industry publications, on social media, and using SEM (Search Engine Marketing.)
Utilize service providers who can help you optimize searching.Make sure that everything is device-responsive,packed with keywords and phrases,and easy to find.
With off-site media, to the extent you can, have everything circle back to your web site (including high quality links to your content), simultaneously a high-performance repository of downloadable content, a fully optimized lead generation engine, and a one-click path to getting live with your account managers.
Automate publishing of content to maintain momentum.Use your site to invite and quickly route referrals. Use drip email campaigns to send targeted offers to client segments.
Link these to highly useful and engaging information on your site that helps your clients do their jobs successfully – this will have them coming back for more.
5. Resist the temptation to focus on yourself in your marketing
Stories about projects should put the clients front and center. Resist the temptation to blather on about how innovative your team was. Instead, focus on how the client-initiated and led theprocess.
Congratulate the client for meeting the needs of their users and the public, not yourself. You were simply the tool they used to win the battle, to build the fortress, to slay the dragon, so to speak. This is how your prospective clients want the story to play out for them, so help them visualize it. Tell the story your new clients want to be featured in!
6. Provide a superior experience
You are professional service providers, not widget makers. Working with you is an experience. Make that experience positive, even delightful. Train your project managers to deliver services this way.
Teach them how to listen to the client. Teach them emotional intelligence and how to know when a client is edging towards dissatisfaction. Make it so your project managers don’t have to be bludgeoned on the head with a scathing review to make changes.
7. Gather Detailed And Meaningful Feedback From Clients
Much of creating a superior client experience is gathering detailed client feedback. If possible, use an automated system like Client Savvy or Qualtrics that prompts clients to regularly report on your performance.
Ask detailed, behavior-based questions and use that automated system with your CRM to inform daily choices about how you deliver services.
8. Act on the feedback
If you collect feedback, act on it. The one thing a client hates more than a derailed project is taking the time and effort to provide detailed feedback and then having the service provider do nothing with it.
9. Tell the stories in your marketing and nurture your brand
When you’ve done all this successfully, gather the stories again. Observe how carefully you handled the client’s assets and how you made life better for them.
With those stories and the keywords and phrases generated, show your evolution as professionals, how you learned lessons, and made appropriate changes. Be authentic.
Test your systems, poll your clients, and optimize. Record who visited and clicked. Use Google Analytics and comparable tools to measure site traffic. These 10 strategies are an iterative process essential to B2B marketing. They will inform your decisions and nurture the growth of your brand.