Seeing is Believing...in Marketing Your Professional Services Firm
Selling any type of professional service – from investment management, to forensic accounting or legal representation – involves two very basic requirements:
1. People must understand (the basics on) how you will either solve their problem or add value; and
2. People must trust you, and ideally, they must also like you.
Despite these two very simple ingredients for business growth, many professional services firms fail in their marketing efforts to address one or both of those requirements. Or worse yet, they will:
1. Make it exceedingly difficult for people to understand exactly what they do; or
2. Provide no reason for people to trust them or to like them. Some firms even inadvertently generate distrust and ill will.
If you agree that understanding and trust are essential marketing ingredients, then we offer a few observations and suggestions on how professional services firms can attain both of those holy grails…at least in terms of how they are expressed through their public facing materials.
Catching people’s attention is the #1 challenge: You’re competing for the attention of people who are bombarded with information all day, every day, through every possible means. Your target audience has little time or incentive to focus on your information or sales pitch. And you’re competing against scores of people selling a service very much or exactly like yours. The good news is that there’s a relatively low bar, with respect to what it takes to stand out from the crowd. Getting noticed often involves having the courage to present your firm in a manner that’s just a little bit different from your competitors.
Keeping people’s attention can be even tougher: People will NOT work to find or understand what’s important or different about what you’re selling. Your messaging needs to be concise. Your value proposition needs to smack prospects over the head. And you need to immediately address every buyer’s most fundamental need: What’s In This For Me?
Without online visibility, you’re not even in the game: A website does not deliver online visibility; it’s simply a place where people end up…only IF they find you online. Getting found online is an increasingly critical marketing goal, as people rely much less on referrals and personal networks, and far more on conducting their own online research regarding solution providers in advance of contacting any firm. These days, making a prospective client’s “short list” of candidates is based almost entirely on being found and checked out online. This is what content marketing and thought leadership strategies are all about.
You need a video that explains what you do: Regardless of how people find your website, you have less than 10 seconds to explain what you do and to address why those visitors should care. If you make people read long, elaborate written content, they will bolt. If you make them click or scroll to gain those insights, you will lose them.
The good news is that most website visitors will watch a video that clearly explains what you do, and / or how you’re different. Your “explainer” video, however, should always be around 2 minutes in length (or they won’t hit “start”), and it must hold their interest or they will bail from the video and your website. Professional services firms can learn from technology firms, when it comes to distilling complex, detailed concepts into a simple and brief explanation. Regardless of its complexity, every professional services firm has unique features and benefits that need to be explained in a concise, interesting manner. To see examples of how complex subjects can be presented effectively, check out the video portfolio on www.2minuteexplainer.com.
You need a video that shows people who you are: People still buy from people. And in professional services, where the financial stakes are high, where confidential matters are involved, and where “success” is often defined in relative terms…you need to establish trust and confidence immediately.
The number 1 rule in effective writing is “Don’t tell me. Show me.” People need to draw their own conclusions about whether you are capable, trustworthy and likable. And video is the most powerful and efficient medium to achieve that goal. Judge for yourself: Watch this video from Odyssey Creative, a video production company, which showcases both who they are, and how they work. Which is a more convincing and effective way to size up this firm and its process: 2:25 minutes of seeing and listening to their story, or a reading a long description of their services on their website?
With video, you don't even need 2 minutes to establish a positive impression. Check out this 1-minute video featuring business attorney B.F. Godfrey, a sole practitioner, and note that he correctly places his video on the home page of his website. Through video, this attorney meets his prospective clients at the front door.
If you aren’t using video to market your firm, you’re at a disadvantage. Whether you use an “explainer” video, or a “character” video, or ideally both, if your professional services firm is relying exclusively on the printed or pixelated word to gain market attention and credibility, that represents a significant opportunity loss on your marketing balance sheet. On top of the competitive factors you cannot control, your firm is responsible for a self-inflicted wound by not leveraging the power of video in its marketing.
You have a choice. Either wait until every competitor is beating your firm to a pulp with videos in their marketing tool kits; or begin to use video to beat competitors who are less marketing savvy than you are.