Eight Marketing Realities for the New Year

marketing realities for 2013

By: Christine Hollinden

Technology, regulations, competition, economy – whatever the reason, each new year brings a new set of challenges that make marketing your firm even more complex than ever. Successfully increasing sales requires the use of simple, effective marketing strategies versus a "jump-on-the-bandwagon,” knee-jerk, or reactionary approach. Here are the eight most important marketing realities that will impact your firm and affect your clients like never before:

1. Cultivate the Messengers

A successful marketing program begins with your team. From the person answering the phone to the most experienced, senior-level person, employees are your most critical marketing asset – particularly in a professional services firm. They are your front line – they guide, care and nurture the relationship with clients. Your employees are your brand and can therefore make or break your brand experience. How much thought, time and energy is focused on training and cultivating your Brand Messengers – “the” essential marketing tactic for success?

2. Build the Story

How does your firm stand out from the competition? What encourages clients to talk about and remember your firm for future needs? To successfully set yourself apart, a solid marketing strategy must include the development of a communications program that spreads the story of your business. Develop a story that conveys your approach, positioning and way of delivering your services. What is your firm’s story?

3. Be a Visionary Leader

There is a direct relationship between profits and company leadership, regardless of the industry. Leaders are the face, personality and culture of the company. They set the tone, pace and vision for the firm. Leaders define success and develop plans to achieve it. No matter how successful the firm, leaders are always prepared to face whatever challenges lie ahead and are focused on competing for tomorrow rather than for today.

4. Deliver Random Acts of Kindness

Service-based firms have one role to play – to serve their clients. What is your firm doing to exceed client expectations and "wow" them with great experiences? Making "wow" a marketing tactic at every client touchpoint strengthens long-term client loyalty, enhances referrals, and, ultimately, increases revenues. Where to start? Begin with random acts of kindness or the unexpected contact – a handwritten note of appreciation, or an unexpected call just to say “thank you.”

5. Supplement Tradition

Traditional business development efforts are still the most effective way to increase your revenues. While we are a big proponent of social media and believe social media marketing plays a significant role for today’s professional services firm, don’t discard “tried and true” tactics. Instead, look for ways to supplement the traditional tactics with social media, e-marketing, and other non-traditional marketing efforts. In short, it’s about one word...leverage (use non-traditional marketing efforts to leverage the traditional).

6. Think Mobility

Before diving into mobile marketing, understand how your clients use their smartphones to access information and connect with your firm. This crucial step will clarify your company’s mobile needs and save you time and money. Can clients find your web site when they do a mobile search? Do you need a mobile website or smartphone application? Should you integrate text messaging into your marketing plan? We live in a mobile society. Give your clients access when and where they want it.

7. Build a Presence

Developing a first-page presence on Google for keyword search phrases used by your clients will continue to be a crucial awareness factor for your firm. Prospects visit your web site as a first pass then search various social media channels for further insights such as reviews and testimonials. Look at your web site, social media channels and search engine information collectively. Is it all leading a prospect in the intended direction? What information would you seek if you were a prospect?

8. Calculated Risks

Creativity, innovation and the ability to take risks move your firm forward. Standing still presents opportunity for your competition. Take a look at your services. Can you super-size or down-size them? Can you develop service-line extensions for existing clients or to enter new markets? Even traditional services can be delivered in innovative ways.