Marketers at many professional services (PS) firms are looking at digital to drive more demand and improve client acquisition. However, despite their intent, they are facing challenges. These challenges are basically rooted in their approach and not so much around digital as a medium.
For years, PS firms have been focused on informational marketing – getting information out to prospects and clients through email, websites, and social channels, without creating any engagement and measurement. In earlier times, this approach largely worked because the seller (PS firm) was usually in control as far as the buying process/lifecycle was concerned. Despite not having appropriate analytics or insight about what kind of content prospects/clients preferred or consumed, PS firm marketers could still continue to enjoy success on their KPIs because they could still acquire clients through informational marketing.
But now the game has changed. In our experience with PS firms, their challenges now are around a lack of conversions and consistent engagement with clients on digital. This is essential because their content fails to engage clients.
The game has changed now because the rules have changed. While the buying lifecycle/stages have remained unaltered, it is the buyer or the client that now holds the strings. Client preferences and the choices they have been having a disruptive impact on how PS firm marketers need to, and must, engage with them.
When a client considers a PS firm to work with, it usually is well informed, has done good research and has started its decision-making process well before it decides to approach the PS firm or speak to one of the firm’s consultants. If one were to map such a client’s buying lifecycle, one could easily ascertain that the research and evaluation stages of this lifecycle are the ones where the bulkhead of the decision-making process resides.
PS firms need to revitalize their digital strategy to engage clients. This includes revisiting their content marketing strategy, aligning content with clients’ buying lifecycle, approaching measurement with a focus on creating conversations with clients. PS firms also need to look at and improve their marketing technology infrastructure to accomplish client engagement goals.
One way marketing on digital is long past its shelf life. Till PS firms acknowledge this and re-strategize on digital, they will continue to see lower acquisition success. The bigger risk of ineffective client engagement, off course, is that clients may lose interest and become disillusioned when a PS firm that they may have considered but decided not to pursue, presents them with few good reasons to reconsider their decision.