Professional Services Marketing – A sound marketing strategy acts as the much-needed foundation to business development and growth, considering it bridges the gap between a company’s products and services and the customer’s needs by providing a medium for awareness, discussion and understanding. Inbound marketing has proven to be a major boost to business development efforts, bringing in the most relevant audiences that could be genuinely interested in your solutions.
However, professional services marketing is a different ball-game altogether. Selling in the world of professional services involves deeper nitty-gritties and much more well-defined characteristics that end up shaping your business’ approach in the industry and towards customers.
Gone are the times when professionals could simply pronounce their name and wave their card to obtain a steady stream of clients and customers. In today’s times, with the proliferation of the internet and access to accurate information with a few taps on the screen, professionals such as lawyers, accountants, management consultants, architects, engineers, dentists, doctors, and others, have to engage in extensive marketing efforts for sustaining their reputation, practice and income.
Why has Professional Services Marketing come into the limelight?
The focus on professional services marketing has only taken centre stage over the last few years, thanks to a few trends that have gained pace over the last few years. These include:
- Legal Sanctions
Most marketing tools used to be out of bounds for professionals until recently, but times are changing. In fact, several court cases one after one have opened the gates to professional services marketing initiatives like never before.
- Too many Professionals
It is important to stand out of the crowd, especially if the crowd is growing more and more unmanageable with every passing day. Professional services marketing allows individuals from law, architecture, dentistry and other backgrounds to stand out compared to their competitors in the quest for more customers.
- Need for the Public Image
With various professions already being equated with malpractices and prejudice, professional services marketing allows individuals and businesses to redeem themselves and portray why they stand out – because of their integrity.
Why is Professional Services Marketing Different?
Unlike other marketing strategies and initiatives, professional services marketing has only recently appeared on the horizon and is still governed by the prevailing practices, prejudices and concerns of the respective profession.
With still a long way to go for the domain to shape up, professional services are actively using marketing tools such as newsletters, public releases, and even marketing research and strategic planning to equip themselves for the continuous wave of new entrants in their respective professional realms. Here are a few areas, however, where professional services marketing has a pronounced difference compared to other types.
Strict legal and ethical restrictions
Regulations and constraints on marketing initiatives may have become much more simplified for all parties involved, but they still exist. These regulations demand immediate and detailed attention, being enforced by various authorities.
While these restrictions generally span safety and health conditions, they also discourage professionals and firms from knowingly marketing services that might end up harming customers, such as cigarettes. Simply pleasing the client cannot be the priority. Therefore, the professional services marketing initiatives must stay within ethical and legal boundaries to avoid any complications with authorities in later stages.
For customers to purchase or choose one professional or firm over another involves a great deal of trust, confidence and competence. At the same time, the buyer could easily shift from one professional to another depending on how the purchase decision of the buyer has been influenced.
When it comes to experiencing professional services to make a well-informed decision, most people are either ignorant or timid or just misinformed. They may not even have the technical skills to judge the best professional service out of the options available. This is the cause behind widespread buyer uncertainty when it comes to professional services, and this is a gap that marketing strategies have to fill.
Professional services marketing needs to be educative and simplified to reach the audiences and make an impact in a way that they understand. The message should cover why the buyer must seek professional services, what they should be looking for, what concerns and issues a professional might address, and what to expect from the service.
Need for Name and Experience
When choosing one professional or firm over another, buyers might overlook everything else and focus solely on reputation and experience. People prefer those doctors and dentists who are popular for the service they are seeking, those accountants and management consultants who have prior experience in their industry, and those lawyers who have litigated similar cases like theirs.
Therefore, professional services marketing needs to focus a lot on building repute, while also highlighting specialization or diversity, as the case may be. Emails, newsletters and brochures could talk about their previous experiences in the service or market.
Establishing a Unique Identity
While marketing in general does focus on building a brand identity and establishing a unique name for your products and services in the marketing, it becomes even more heightened when it comes to professional services. With a continually increasing number of professionals in every field, it can become difficult even for the buyer to distinguish one from the other in terms of output.
Therefore, professional services marketing must focus on differentiating the service using creative slogans, appealing advertisements or a unique take on sending out a message that will stay with the user for long. Honestly speaking, there might not even be a drastic difference between two professionals or firms. The idea is to find out a way to express some form of uniqueness through marketing initiatives for customer retention.
Addressing the Challenge: Professional Marketing Services handled with ease
While marketing strategies could bring unprecedented positive results for professionals and firms, one of the biggest challenges is for professionals to take time out of their busy schedule and devote it entirely to marketing activities.
No matter what the allocation, only an experienced marketing agency, well-informed about all the above-mentioned exceptions and details that [professional services marketing] needs to pay attention to, can do justice to marketing initiatives for these firms and individuals.