When most professional service firms think about marketing, they typically think about running campaigns to get people into their "funnel." They might run a set of ads on Google or boost some posts on Facebook or LinkedIn. Where they get frustrated is how quickly they expect results. If you've experienced similar frustration, here's why you shouldn't.
The 95-5 Rule states that 95% of buyers aren't in the market to buy at any given time. So if buyers don't know you when THEY are ready to buy, then it's already too late.
So if 95% of buyers aren't in the market to buy at any given time, what should you do with your marketing until then?
Think Like a gardener
Imagine yourself as a gardener planting seeds in the minds of your ideal audience with every email, social media post, or piece of content you create. Even in the best environment, seeds don't sprout overnight.
"To grow a brand, you need to advertise to people who aren't in the market now, so that when they do enter the market, your brand is the one they are familiar with." – Professor John Dawes, Ehrenberg-Bass Institute.
So the key to growing your professional service firm is to reach prospective clients who aren't in your funnel.
Let's step back and take a long-term view of your marketing efforts for a moment. Most Americans are exposed to around 4,000 to 10,000 ads each day. That's anywhere from 1.46M–3.65M ads per year. That's a lot of ads!
There's no way our brains could meaningfully process and recall that many ads. So your messaging has to immediately and consistently connect with your audience. Otherwise, their brains will drift off, stop paying attention or put them in daydreaming mode.
Replace Boring With Consistent
If you've been doing content marketing for a while, it's normal to feel like you're starting to repeat yourself. After all, you or your team spends most of the day looking at nothing but these messages or images.
But remember, your audience doesn't see them as often as you do, and they're not paying attention like you are. In addition, your messaging and marketing compete against thousands of other ads on any day.
Seeing the same thing from your brand multiple times is essential for your audience because it activates their familiarity bias—our tendency to like what we're already familiar with.
Don't be afraid to repeat yourself. Avoid the trap of projecting your boredom with your content onto your audience. The chances that 100% of your ideal customer audience saw all of your content are low. While your messaging might feel stale to you, it's still fresh to your audience, especially as your audience grows.
A gardener doesn't dig up a seed every few days to see if it's starting to grow. So stick to your messaging and marketing strategy. Give it time to build momentum. The results may not come immediately, but constantly switching things up won't yield them any sooner.
Besides, with many established social media platforms regularly updating their algorithms, you always have new opportunities to be creative without reinventing the wheel every time.
If you're concerned about providing value, re-share or update your best-performing content. Then, you can repurpose that content into new formats that take advantage of the latest features provided by social media platforms.
Be clear and captivating
Gardening is about finding the right combination of sunlight, fertile soil, and water to make your plants thrive. Of course, different plants need those things in differing amounts. The same applies to your audience.
If you want high-quality leads and customers, you must consistently deliver high-quality content with a clear message. Otherwise, you'll end up with rotten veggies and pests.
Use a clear, consistent message that speaks to your ideal client's problems. Mirror the words they use when describing the problem, so they know you understand how it's disrupting their lives and how it makes them feel. Then paint a picture of how their lives will be restored to peace and made better after working with you.
That's the key to creating captivating content. And when you attract the right type of clients, there's no room for the wrong ones to appear.
Build Brand Recognition
Most people buy things because they read words that make them want to buy things. So, how do you get them to stop scrolling and pay attention to your words? Here is where your branding and visual identity come in.
Most people think branding is just about your logo and colors, but it's much more. Branding is also about the types of images you use, the types of icons or illustrations, and even your choice of typography plays a part in establishing your brand's personality.
Branding is the most concentrated form of positioning. Brand recognition is the ability of consumers to recognize the identifying characteristics of your company versus a competitor. It's about planting seeds to take up more space in their mind. More brain space = easier to recall during a buying situation.
Building brand recognition isn't about producing the same old, boring images and graphics. Instead, it's about creating a unified and cohesive visual experience for your ideal target audience no matter where they encounter your brand. Each touchpoint should build upon and reinforce a previous touchpoint.
It takes an estimated 5-7 impressions to start creating brand awareness. So if your brand is inconsistent or switches things up too often, you risk interrupting the process of building brand recognition and brand trust.
Avoid confusion on how to represent your brand by using a fully developed brand style guide. It should cover everything I've outlined in this visual brand identity checklist, plus your messaging framework.
Nurturing Prospects to Become Clients
According to most recent sales statistics, it takes about eight touch points to close a sale on average. However, every prospect is different, so that number can vary.
So even if you've achieved brand awareness and are building brand recognition, this doesn't mean your audience is ready to move forward.
Remember, buyers only take action when they're ready to buy, not when you're ready to sell.
Most professional service firms I speak to struggle with this because they don't have a system or the capacity to nurture leads. So how do you continue building trust and educating your audience until they're ready? With a system to automate the lead nurturing process.
I'm a massive fan of HubSpot's CRM and Marketing Automation Platform. It connects everything a professional service firm needs to deliver a fantastic customer experience in one place.
I use it to track where prospects are in the client journey, see what content they've engaged with, and how well that content performed with them. So, if a lead stops engaging, I can see the last piece of content they clicked on or the email they opened before they stopped.
I can use this information to determine if something is missing or unclear. Perhaps the person stopped engaging because the existing content was enough to help them solve their problem. Or maybe the prospect stopped engaging because the content made it clear it wouldn't be a good fit.
Clearer messaging and branding backed by a marketing automation system saves time and delivers better clients. As a result, professional service firms are free to focus on clients ready to buy now while offering value to those who aren't ready yet.
Need help finding the right words to market and grow your business? Come to the LiveStream Messaging & Marketing Workshop on September 13th–15th, so you'll never struggle to find the right words again.
The event is perfect for any professional service firm struggling to clearly explain what they do, why they exist, and what problems they solve in a way that compels their ideal client to choose them. To learn more about the event, click the button below.