Tag Archives: Professional services marketing

Be seen as an expert in your field: leverage an issue

Imagine you’re a client of an accounting or law firm. Your accountant and lawyer both seem to be doing a good job. There’s just one problem: you don’t hear much from them when they’re not working for you.

Be seen as an expert in your field: leverage an issue

Each month you hear from another accountant and lawyer – they send you information you want to know, their posts pop up when you log into LinkedIn, they call you when there’s a tax or legislative change that looks like it will impact your business. You see them quoted in the media, they speak at conferences you attend. In short they’re everywhere.

Would you stick with your existing accountant or lawyer or would you switch? I guess it depends on how good a job they’re doing for you but at some point you’re likely to think “I really should give this new guy/girl a go because they’re clearly know what they’re talking about.”

If I was the incumbent accountant and lawyer I’d be worried!

The point is this: if you’re not top of mind with your clients and prospects you’re missing out on business: business that you want.

So if you want to stop that happening and be seen as an expert in your field, you’re going to need to work hard to own the space.

How?

You need to identify key issues that will impact your target market and then leverage all the tools and channels available to you. One very effective strategy is to take an issue and leverage it to death: own it! 

The ideas below are based on some work I did with one of my clients a few years ago that positioned her as a leader in her field. Those operating in the same area say she’s still right up there today.

The first thing you need to do is to brainstorm the upcoming big issues in your area of practice. When doing so, think about:

  • whether there is any new/emerging legislation
  • what your clients and prospects say their big-ticket items are going to be for the next year or two
  • what’s happening in your area overseas that may impact your clients or may become legislation in your country
  • whether there’s an opportunity to commission some research that will be of value to your target audience (such as research to uncover attitudes, future trends, issues etc) or to run round-table sessions

Then choose your topic or issue and create an action plan:

  • write down your goals ensuring they are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound). For example a goal might be to generate $X in revenues from water-related projects between Jun 2014 and May 2015. NB: goals don’t all have to be financially related and could include converting specific prospects into clients, or to be the go to person for the media for enquiries in your area etc.
  • write down the measures you will use to ascertain whether you have achieved your goals. For example, number of clients, number of repeat clients, percentage of overall work from this area, client feedback etc.
  • write down the actions you will take and when you will take them (see below for some ideas of how you can leverage the various channels). You may want to do this as a timeline so you can see what you are going to do when and include when third party decisions will come out that you will need to respond to (such as when Bills before Parliament are due to have their next reading or when the next Budget or Reserve Bank decision is due out). Doing this means you can allocate time to read through decisions/key points and summarise these to your clients/prospects.
  • keep updating your action plan with next steps to ensure there is forward momentum.

How to leverage the issues

I regularly see professionals put out a news alert to their clients, and they may even speak at a conference and put together an article on the same topic but I very rarely see them proactively leveraging all communications channels open to them to really own the space. While it might look like a lot of work it’s actually surprisingly easy to repurpose content. You can also ask your colleagues and marketing team to help with some of the activities. Using the example of some new legislation coming into force, here’s what you can do:

  1. Call your top 5 clients who are likely to be impacted. Don’t wait until the legislation comes into force. Give clients an early heads-up and then let them know you’ll come back to them when you have more information.
  2. At the same time post a LinkedIn update, both personally and on your company and/or relevant showcase page; post an update to Google+, Twitter, and Facebook if relevant and ask your colleagues to do the same. You could direct those interested in hearing more to sign up to your notifications list. If you set up a landing page, where they can input their name and email address you can grow your distribution list for this issue.
  3. Talk to colleagues whose clients may be impacted by the upcoming legislation, including what it may mean for their client. If they agree this may impact their client, ask them to give their client a heads-up and offer to go and talk to the client when the time is right. If you want a colleague to set up a meeting between you and their client, give them a few prompts they can use when talking to their client as this will increase the likelihood of client buy-in.
  4. Talk to your main referrers about the issues and offer to speak to their clients. Down the track you could offer to run a workshop, webinar or round-table for them.
  5. Put together a short news alert setting out the issue, who it will impact and what it is likely to mean (or when further info will be available). Repeat as Bills have their next reading or become legislation.
  6. Put together a short video along the lines of the information in the newsalert.
  7. Speak to conference organisers early and look to get a speaking slot at any relevant events.
  8. Organise a seminar/webinar at an appropriate time. You may want to look at specific events for specific clients plus more of a catch-all session.
  9. Put the news alert on your website, consider adapting it into a blog post and/or Slideshare presentation, and share via social media networks. Do the same with the video and conference/webinar slides. You could also put your videos on your YouTube channel and they could double as your blog.
  10. Identify the best publication to reach your target audience and call them to give them a heads up on the issue and how it might impact their readers, and to see if they would be interested in an article or some commentary on the topic. Repeat for other media including TV, radio, and online.
  11. Do a roadshow in the main centres in your country.

Using a multi-pronged approach means you will achieve maximum reach and will be visible each time the issue comes to the fore. I strongly believe that taking an issue and leveraging it is one of the best things you can do to position yourself as an expert in your field.

Do you see yourself as an expert?  Comment below and share how you are positioning yourself and what’s worked well.

Content curation: the poor cousin to content creation in professional services marketing?

Just as every superhero needs his or her sidekick, so too does content creation.

Why content curation's not the poor cousin to content creation

But far from being its poor cousin, content curation has a multitude of benefits, many of which are overlooked in the drive to display “thought leadership”.

3 often overlooked benefits of content curation

1. Generating demand for a particular service

If people don’t perceive they have a need, then they’ll never buy. My friend, Tom Skotidas, put it brilliantly when he said “content curation is essential for demand generation.”

Think about it.

If Harvard Business Review says why more professional services firms need to be thinking about social selling and the benefits, people in those firms will start to consider social selling. They’ll be more likely to notice information about social selling in professional services firms.

It paves the way for your own content.

2. Overcome pigeon-holing

Unless you have a lot of time and/or an army of content developers on board, it can be difficult to regularly put out compelling content. However, by regularly sharing good third party content, interspersed with your own, you can keep in front of your clients, referrers, prospects, and colleagues.

You can position yourself as a go to source of info and as being on top of the issues in your area. Over time people will begin to associate you with the content you share and think of you when they have a need.

3. Adding rocket-fuel to your referral and prospecting strategies

By sharing others’ content you get on their radar.

You can then begin to have conversations and start to build a relationship with them. They then start to notice your content.

Don’t underestimate the power of this.

In the past month alone, I’ve had three new business enquiries from people who’ve been referred to me by people I’ve never met!

I’ve had conversations with them on social networks and talked via Skype and they’re recommending me on the strength of that, the content I share (both my own and third party) and discussions we’ve both been involved in within LinkedIn groups and Google+ communities.

I’m convinced that if I’d taken a Kath and Kim “look at me” approach and only shared my own content (however helpful), this wouldn’t have happened.

No-one likes a self-promoter!

How do you find good third party content?

There are so many great sources of content including:

  • Aggregators such as Feedly, Pulse and Flipboard. Download one of these onto your phone and follow bloggers and publications of interest to you and those you wish to engage.
  • Your LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook feeds including groups, lists, trends, communities etc.
  • Industry publications.
  • National and international media.
  • Google Alerts.
You’re likely already consuming some of these. If you do so online, sharing info with your network is simply a matter of writing a short intro setting out who should read/watch/listen to it and why, a key finding/message or how something may impact your ideal client, and then pushing a button to share it.
Action
  • Find two pieces of third party content relevant to your area each week and share them (remembering to include your own intro) via social networks, emailing selected contacts who will benefit from the piece, and your other channels.
Your turn: how’s curating third party content helped you? 
Image Credit: fansided.com

 

Professionals: how to take advantage of LinkedIn opening its blogging platform to all users

A couple of weeks ago LinkedIn announced that it’s opening its blogging platform to all users.

LinkedIn’s Publishing Platform

This provides a HUGE opportunity for professionals who post helpful, authentic original content.

What’s LinkedIn doing?

Over the coming weeks and months LinkedIn is rolling out its publishing platform (i.e. the place where Influencers currently post) to all members. You’ll know you have it when you see the pencil edit icon within your ‘Share an update’ box on your homepage.

What does this mean?

Once you’ve got the feature you’ll have the potential to reach more of the people you wish to by sharing helpful, relevant and inspiring content.

Think about it.

If your content hits the mark then people it would currently be difficult to reach will share it with their networks. And they will choose to follow you on LinkedIn.

There could be a snowball effect.

This does assume people will use the feature selectively. LinkedIn’s put up some great guidelines within its Help Center that you should check out. These explain what to do and what not to do.

Putting up your latest PR piece will undermine the feature and it will be hard for other members to sort the wheat from the chaff.

So, please only post content that is genuinely going to be of interest or helpful to other LinkedIn members.

How will your posts be distributed?

I’ve paraphrased the below from the LinkedIn Help Center:

  • All of these posts will be public so can be found by people not on LinkedIn. 
  • They will be shared with your connections and followers through their newsfeeds. 
  • Posts will be displayed on your LinkedIn profile, directly below the top section, which contains your photo and headline. 
  • Interactions such as likes, comments and shares will help distribute your content beyond your immediate network. 
  • LinkedIn may also distribute your posts independently as part of aggregated ‘best of LinkedIn’ content. 
  • Your posts can be found in an Articles search on LinkedIn.

You can also share your posts via other social networks, email, on your website and so on.

If you put together original content, you should seriously consider whether it would be worth posting this directly on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn says, “You can republish something that you have published somewhere else as long as it is your original content that you own the rights to.”

You know all those great blog posts you’ve compiled? Why don’t you take a look through them, work out which resonated most with your audience and, if they fit LinkedIn’s best practices, re-post them there.

You wouldn’t want to use LinkedIn in place of your blog because your blog is easily searchable, gives people an instant feel for you, helps you get found and is under your control…but it’s definitely another tool you can use to disseminate your best content.

LinkedIn hasn’t been specific about when the feature will roll out to everyone but you can apply for early access

I will be.

What do you think of this development? How else do you think it will benefit professionals? 

 

Professionals: stop wasting your time on LinkedIn

“‘Cheshire Puss,’ she began, rather timidly, as she did not at all know whether it would like the name: however, it only grinned a little wider. `Come, it’s pleased so far,’ thought Alice, and she went on. `Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?’

‘That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,’ said the Cat.

`I don’t much care where–’ said Alice.

`Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,’ said the Cat.

`–so long as I get SOMEWHERE,’ Alice added as an explanation.

`Oh, you’re sure to do that,’ said the Cat, `if you only walk long enough.’”  ~Lewis Carroll in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Professionals: stop wasting your time on LinkedIn

It seems that many professionals are on LinkedIn but are doing nothing with it. Like Alice, they’re wandering aimlessly. Yet many think that LinkedIn’s going to miraculously deliver them some work.

It won’t.

Not unless you put the time and effort in and use it purposefully.

The top 8 ways professionals waste time on LinkedIn and a solution for each!

# 1: Not being clear about what you want LinkedIn to help you to achieve and how you’re going to use it

If you don’t have clear goals then what are you going to measure?

And how are you going to use the platform consistently over time to:

  • expand your knowledge,
  • position yourself,
  • overcome being pigeon-holed,
  • stay top of mind with your existing clients and/or
  • attract more of your ideal prospects?

Solution: download our LinkedIn action plan template and use it to determine how you will use the platform.

# 2: Using LinkedIn in isolation

LinkedIn works best when it’s used to support your other efforts. It can be a catalyst for getting new work but it’s rarely the sole reason why. Yet it can add rocket-fuel to your existing business development and marketing initiatives.

If you want to know how, take a look at the posts highlighted below, each of which deal with a different aspect of professional services firm’s BD and marketing activities:

How can professional services firms use social media to increase their tender success rate?

11 ways to showcase your expertise using social media 

Social media: firing up key client and practice group planning

How to use LinkedIn to power up your events

Solution: Think about how LinkedIn can support your existing initiatives and incorporate this into your strategy.

# 3: Having a sub-standard profile

There is NO excuse for a sub-standard profile.

You’re a professional.

You want to make a good impression on both your existing connections, business partners, referrers and prospects.

How are you going to do that if you can’t even pull a decent profile together?

Solution: If you’re on LinkedIn to develop your practice, PLEASE PLEASE (at the very least) do the following:

- Upload a professional looking photo

- Make sure your professional headline says what you do or who and how you can help

- Customize your public profile URL (so that you get found before others’ who share your name)

- Complete the summary section setting out:

  • Who you help
  • What you help them with
  • Your approach to working with your clients
  • Some results you’ve achieved
  • A bit about your interests outside of work
  • A call to action.
- Upload or add links, tips, Whitepapers, presentations, videos…or anything that will help to EVIDENCE your capabilities. You can do so at the bottom of the summary section, and in the experience and education sections.
- List your skills in the skills and endorsements section. Make it easy for people to endorse you for skills for which you wish to be recognised. Otherwise, you’re likely to find yourself being endorsed for skills you don’t have (thanks to LinkedIn’s algorithm that determines suggestions in the blue box that appears on users homepages every now and again!)
- Make it easy for people to contact you by including your contact details within your profile – both in the contact info section and in the section RIGHT down the bottom ‘Contact [Name] for…’

# 4: not taking an active approach to connecting with others

LinkedIn at a very basic level is a living, breathing address book where people update their own details. It’s likely to be much more up-to-date than many professional services firms’ CRMs.

The more people you connect to, the more people see your status updates. You can use these to position yourself but if you’re not connected to many people then hardly anyone will see them.
And you won’t get as good search results when using LinkedIn’s Advanced Search feature (unless you opt for a paid account, or Xray search into LinkedIn using Google). This means it won’t be as useful a planning and research tool as it could be.
Solution: Connect to your colleagues (this will help you market yourself internally), your clients, referrers, and other business contacts and nurture these contacts – share status updates that they’re going to find useful.
Whenever you return from a new business meeting or event, invite the person/people you met to connect with you. Aim to grow your connections over time.

# 5: Inactivity

If you’ve decided you ONLY want to use LinkedIn as a living address book then don’t worry about being active.

BUT if you want to position yourself or grow your practice you need to get active. Otherwise you’re missing out on the opportunity to become synonymous with the work you do and to stay top of mind with the people you want to help.
Essentially, you’re making it easy for them to choose one of your competitors over you!
Solution: Aim to share at least 1 piece of third-party content each week and 1 piece of original content (i.e. compiled by you, someone in your team or your wider firm) that’s going to be RELEVANT to your connections or fellow group members.
In addition, aim to comment on, like or share 1 piece of content shared by a connection and someone in one of your groups.

# 6: Taking a short-term ‘sales’ approach

No-one’s on LinkedIn to be sold to.

They’re on there to network, to learn and, yep, to sell. But to sell in a none-salesy way. Before you can even attempt to sell, you have to DEMONSTRATE your value and help others.

It’s fine to use Inmail and ask for introductions but you’d better be damn sure to spell out the VALUE to the other person of doing what you ask of them. And it’s going to be much more effective if people ‘know’, like and have begun to trust you first.

Solution: Be active by sharing helpful content, helping others and commenting on their discussions. Position yourself by being generous. Then, when you ask for help or a meeting, people are much more likely to say ‘yes’. And the outcome is much more likely to be positive.

# 7: Ignoring the power of LinkedIn groups

LinkedIn groups are a great tool to reach more of your ideal prospects and another place to position yourself with your clients and other connections.

By joining well-managed groups to which you can add value, you can begin to extend your reach.

You will need to find these groups though (which can be difficult given that the majority are a waste of space either because they’re inactive or full of spam).

Solution: join well-managed groups and consider setting up your own either as a team or in conjunction with one or two non-competing professionals. Building a group is a great way to set up a community of people with a common interest and to become a valuable resource to them over time. If you want to know how to set up and run a group that people want to join, get our Complete Guide to LinkedIn Groups eBook for NZ$18.97,

# 8: A lack of measurement or measuring the wrong things

There’s little point in measuring things that have nothing to do with you achieving your goals. Vanity metrics such as number of likes, shares etc. are flattering but are they helping you get to where you want to be?

If not then ignore them.

Solution: pick a few key measures that are aligned with your objectives. Measure your performance over time and in conjunction with your other initiatives so that you can assess LinkedIn’s impact. Where possible, benchmark against past data so that you know whether what you’re doing is working.

It’s incredibly easy to waste time on LinkedIn. Yet it can be an AMAZINGLY powerful tool if used sensibly.

What other mistakes have you made, or seen other professionals making, on LinkedIn? 

If you want to stop wasting time on LinkedIn and start harnessing it’s power to grow your practice, sign up for our 10 week mini-course and be first to hear about our forthcoming online course with actionable modules “Grow your Practice with LinkedIn: for lawyers”, your roadmap to LinkedIn success.

Image Credit: elderderekbird.blogspot.com

Social media: Are you benefiting from the subliminal messaging effect?

Subliminal stimuli are any sensory stimuli below an individual’s threshold for conscious perception (Wikipedia)

They’re designed to influence by circumventing the conscious awareness and were used in advertising (until subliminal advertising was banned in the UK and Australia in 1958).

Are you benefiting from the subliminal messaging effect?

Benefiting from the subliminal messaging effect

While we don’t use subliminal messaging on social networks, one of the key benefits of sharing content relevant to your niche has a similar effect.

Over time, almost sub-consciously, people start to associate you with the content you share (e.g. if you regularly share telecommunications related pieces, people will link you with telecoms).

Essentially, you’ll become synonymous with the content you share.

Benefiting from the familiarity principle

And, because you’re posting content consistently, you’ll also benefit from the familiarity principle.

People in your groups, communities, your connections, followers and friends will feel like they know you (even if you’ve never met) and over time, will start to trust you.

It’s a bit like when you’re travelling, are feeling thirsty and walk into a shop to be faced with an array of drinks (none of which you’ve ever heard of) and a can of Coke. Provided you like Coke, you’re much more likely to choose it over the other drinks because it’s familiar to you.

By frequently sharing content that is valuable to those in your network and staying top of mind you’ll increase the likelihood that, when one of them has a need in your area, they will call you.

If you’re not regularly sharing relevant content via social networks then you’re missing a trick and making it easy for your competitors to steal a march on you.

Can you really afford to do so?

How have you benefited from the subliminal messaging effect or the familiarity principle?

Image Credit: rileyquinnauthor.blogspot.com

How to get lawyers & accountants to buy into LinkedIn

Last week a client asked me:

How do you encourage engagement and participation from lawyers on LinkedIn?

How to get lawyers & accountants to buy into LinkedIn

The next day I saw a post by a legal marketing professional asking the same thing.

Here’s a summary of the answer I gave them:

Lawyers and other professionals will only be active on LinkedIn if they can see the benefits: they need to know how they can use the platform to help them achieve their individual (and team) goals, and how it can support everything they’re already doing.

Share case studies

One of the most powerful ways to get lawyers, accountants and other professionals to understand how LinkedIn can benefit them is to share case studies of how others have used the platform successfully. If they see how and why others have used it, they begin to see the possibilities for themselves.

Ideally use case studies from within your firm but, if you don’t have any, then here are 5 great case studies (click the free chapter link and they’ll download. You don’t need to provide any info to see these). 

Perform an Advanced Search

Another good tactic is to sit down with the person, ask them about their ideal client and then perform an Advanced Search. When lawyers, accountants and other professionals see that their ideal clients are on LinkedIn, they realise they need to be on there too.

The Advanced Search feature allows you to search by company, job title, keyword, industry sector, location and more (or a combination thereof and it supports Boolean searches).

Remember though, that the searches will return richer information the more people you are connected to. That’s because, on the free LinkedIn account, you can see full profile information for those people to whom you are directly connected, your second degree connections and fellow group members. You can only see limited info for third degree connections and those outside your network.

Show them how a LinkedIn presence can help them get found online

If the professional you’re working with is on LinkedIn or has a common name and is having difficulty getting found online, show them how LinkedIn profiles appear high up search results. Log out of Google and then perform a search on their name. This will help in one of two ways: if they are on LinkedIn but still have a skeletal profile it will highlight that they need to develop a good profile or remove themselves from LinkedIn; if they aren’t on LinkedIn and have a common name or share a name with a celebrity it will highlight that having a LinkedIn presence can help them to get found.

Find groups to which those they want to build relationships with belong

Help the person to find and join groups to which their clients and ideal prospects belong. To identify these groups you could look at people’s profiles and see which groups they have listed (n.b. some may be hidden but the majority won’t be because the default setting is to display these); or use LinkedIn’s search feature and type in your keyword. If you then click on the magnifying glass and select ‘groups’ from the left hand side of the screen which appears, you’ll see a list of related groups. These will typically be organised from the largest to the smallest.

You can very quickly scroll down the list, see who in the person’s network is a member and either look at the group profile (if it’s a closed group) or look at the group discussions and activity (if it’s open). You can then make a call about whether or not the group is worth joining.

Walk them through how LinkedIn can help them achieve THEIR goals

Lastly, I would go through the person’s marketing plan (or key client, industry sector or practice group plan) with them and show them how LinkedIn (and other social networks) can help them achieve their goals. 

The hardest thing for professionals is knowing what they should be doing beyond creating a profile. In early 2014 I’ll be launching a modular online training course “Grow your practice with LinkedIn: for lawyers” and will then be rolling this out to other professionals. Details will follow in the New Year.

What else would you add? 

How has LinkedIn helped you to achieve your goals? 

 

 

 

 

Building your brand: The power of one click

As a professional you probably regularly consume content.

You may read the paper.

The trade press.

Blogs.

Newsletters.

You may watch things on YouTube.

Listen to the radio or to Podcasts.

And this is all great for your own interests and learning.

BUT you could be missing out on a trick.

Continue reading

How to set up the new LinkedIn Showcase Pages in your Company Pages (video)

LinkedIn’s just announced its new Showcase Pages, which are a great addition to your Company Pages. 

As LinkedIn says:

“LinkedIn members will be able to follow the specific brands and products they care most about that have Showcase Pages.”

This is great news for professional services firms. You can set up showcase pages for up to 10 of your services. People can choose to follow these pages in addition to, or instead of your company page, allowing them to self-select the info that’s relevant to them.

They’re another great way to share helpful content with other LinkedIn users and to build a community – essentially they’re all about sharing great content. But, unless you’re a big brand, it’ll likely take time to build your followers.

And you’ll need to think carefully about your capacity to manage these pages. They will need to be regularly updated (ideally at least weekly) so there is fresh content and you look on top of the issues. The good news is that you can use a mix of your own and third party content to position you so it shouldn’t be too onerous to find things to post.

This ‘how to’ video below shows you how to set up a showcase page (and how to delete one should you need to).

Tips for promoting your Showcase pages

There are so many ways to promote your Showcase Pages. Here’s a list of ideas to get you started:

  • Get relevant people within the firm to include links to these on their profiles (ideally at the bottom of the summary section).
  • Include links from relevant pages on your website to these showcase pages.
  • Include a link in your email signoff.
  • Mention this in your news-alerts, in client meetings, at the end of seminars or presentations.
  • Invite relevant contacts to follow a showcase page for news on ‘X’.
  • Pay for some of the really valuable posts to appear as sponsored updates in a certain demographic’s LinkedIn feed – a number may then follow a particular Showcase page in return.

How to set up the new LinkedIn Showcase Pages in your Company Pages

I’d love to know what you think of Showcase Pages. Let me know in the comments and please share Pages you’ve set up. And please share this post if you find it valuable. Thanks.

Should you hide your LinkedIn connections – the pros and cons?

The answer is: it depends.

Should you hide your LinkedIn connections?

I’ll come onto why in a moment, but I wrote a post a year or so ago strongly recommending that people leave them visible. However, there is one really good argument for why you wouldn’t.

Both perspectives are set out below so that you can make the choice that’s right for you. Continue reading

How to handle online complaints in this social media age

Last week a contact of mine, Guy Alvarez, shared a link to an article about a British Airways passenger who had paid over $1,000 on a promoted tweet telling people not to fly the airline because it lost his luggage.

How to handle online complaints in this social media age

BA’s customer service team didn’t handle the situation well so the passenger paid to get his message heard and made sure it appeared in the twitter feeds of followers of BA.

Ouch. Continue reading