Challenges in any business sometimes come from the unlikeliest of sources. I noted this the other day upon a visit to WHSmith, the newsagent that simply refuses to die.
Whilst browsing for something I didn’t come in for, I noticed that their product range had somewhat broadened. I could now use their services to make a will, create a tenancy agreement and gain power of attorney over my ageing mother (although it didn’t specifically state that). To think that I only went in for a protractor and a Pritt Stick.
After a little research, I discovered that this particular challenge has actually been present for a few years. The Legal Services Act came into effect in October 2011 and had the ambition to make buying legal services as easy as shopping for beans. Really expensive beans, obviously.
Of course, it is not just lawyers who face new competition. The whole professional services industry – legal, financial, accountancy and management consultancy – has seen both legislature and advancements in technology create real challenges for an industry that is notoriously conservative when it comes to change.
In some respects, it is perhaps the smaller outfits that suffer most. Legal services are now available in newsagents and supermarkets, there’s a plethora of accounting software – such as Zoho Books or QuickFile – and endless forums and free information around business management and problem solving. These new entrants tend to make use of cloud technology, meaning they can operate with much lower running costs than established firms.
In addition, the commoditisation of services in many sectors is pressurising this business sector model towards value-oriented services rather than traditional project fees. This increasing automation of ‘back-end services’ is forcing professional services companies to focus marketing activities around value, personalisation and engagement. All the while driving revenue and cutting costs.
This is not a problem that is yet to be solved, but here are some important considerations for all firms in this sector.
1. Put your expertise on show
- Create educational content to teach clients and prospects that you know how to solve their most difficult business issues in their unique circumstances. 93% of buyers will go with a vendor who demonstrates that knowledge. (Source: Demand Gen buyer behaviour report 2016)
- Own a niche. 68% of buyers value specialised expertise the most. (Source: Hinge marketing – The Visible Expert)
- Speaking engagements can be invaluable, putting you and your business centre stage in front of an audience of buyers and influencers.
2. Remember that the web is the definitive source of everything
- Your web presence (not just your website) should articulate your positioning and distribute all your thought leadership.
- Let your content breathe through multiple channels. Distribute through blogs, social media, magazine articles, videos, podcasts, etc.
3. Manage and measure your content performance
- Invest in a good CRM (customer relationship management) system and learn how to use it. Most are hugely under-utilised. It should tell you how a lead found you, what they looked at, for how long, and what they did afterwards.
- Build a response mechanism into every piece of content you produce.
- Develop or invest in a CMS (content management system) that is integrated into ALL your marketing channels.
So while challenges can come from unexpected quarters, so too can sage advice…
“Change does not change tradition, it strengthens it. Change is a challenge and an opportunity, not a threat” – HRH Prince Philip
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Please enjoy responsibly. And share the love.
Although it can be hard to entertain and engage in video, the infographic offers an opportunity to present what could be quite serious material in a colourful and engaging fashion. US firm Costner Law has created a drink-driving advice one that does just that.
- The UK’s professional services industry has over 2.2 million employees. Contrary to popular perceptions, 66% of employees are outside London. The South East and North West are the two regions with the largest numbers. (Source: TheCityUK)
- Only 2% of firms are using and receiving all the benefits of marketing automation in their content activities. (Source: Smart Insights 2017)
- The value added to the economy per financial and related professional services worker is £87,000, compared to the £52,000 annual average for workers in other sectors. (Source: TheCityUK)
- Having Visible Experts in your business can impact business development. 66% of Visible Experts accelerate growth and business development for their firms. (Source: Hinge marketing)
- Web content and the social media market is forecast to grow by 12% from 2016-2020. (Source: MarketResearch.com)
- By 2019, 80% of online content will be video. (Source: Cisco)
- Seven major UK and Irish accountancy bodies have a total of 335,000 members in the UK and Ireland – as well as many members based abroad. (Source: Financial Reporting Council)
- Management consultancy is the largest employer within professional services, with 477,000 employees. (Source: Norris)
- Video in an email leads to 200%+ CTR (click through rate) and can increase conversion on a landing page by up to 80%. (Source: HubSpot)
- Although recent years have seen a decline in growth in the professional services sector, Europe appears to be staging a recovery, with growth up to 10.3% in 2016 from 6.5% in 2015. (Source: Service Performance Insight)