Here’s where you’re not alone, companies of all sizes dream of what they could be doing with a larger marketing budget. The truth is though, not all of marketing is a money game. If you create a plan that is strategic to your firm’s budget and stick to it, your efforts can go a long way.
The following ideas are free steps you can take to start giving your firm a competitive edge. Before you dive in, the biggest tip I can give is to start small. The key to all of this is to be able to track which tactics are really making an impact so your efforts are not wasted. If you begin by testing out a few ideas and building off of them, it's much less overwhelming and more effective in the long run. After all, as a small business, your time is just as valuable as your money.
1. Focus on the right social channel
Social media and I have a love/hate relationship. What I love is that when used correctly it can be an incredibly powerful and engaging platform for your brand. In fact, 84% of CEOs and VPs use social media to make purchasing decisions. What I hate is how much time and nurturing this can take if you spread yourself across all channels. If you’re a small team the best way to avoid this struggle dynamic is to find the one or two channels that best fit your audience and focus your energy there. For most firms, this will be LinkedIn.
Start by posting at a regular cadence on your company page, and then have employees share that post to their personal networks. Engage by commenting on others’ posts, joining relevant groups and using proper hashtags to reach a new audience. All these actions will help fuel the fire to give more attention to your firm and let potential buyers know that you have an established network.
2. Learn SEO basics
Your website is your most important marketing resource, but what good is it if your prospects can’t find it? There are many levels to SEO, at its peak, it can be someone’s full-time job, but you can still take control by learning the basics for free. Knowing the SEO basics comes down to having the right formula and writing habits to succeed in Google’s eyes.
Moz’s has a great beginner’s guide to SEO, to give you a foundation to start on. Then you can take the principles and spot the areas on your website that could be easily updated to give you a boost. Free SEO plugins are also available for most website hosts to help give you on-going insights once configured.
3. Have a voice and start writing
Building a brand is all about giving your company a unique voice that makes you stand out. This becomes harder and harder to do if you’re not saying anything new. Start a blog on your website and write on topics that are meaningful to your customers. This will strengthen your SEO, and build trust between you and potential customers when they see you as a go-to source for knowledge. B2B PR Sense Blog’s, survey shows that 80% of business decision-makers prefer to learn about a company through a series of articles over ads.
If you want to start even smaller, LinkedIn article are a great way to share the same ideas without having to build out a blog on your website. Simple things like common FAQs about your services, or customer success stories can go a long way.
4. Find partners for delivering content
Building off of number 3, if resources feel tight for executing your own content marketing, be open to shared content opportunities. Teaming up with vendors, customers, associations, professional groups, media outlets or partners in your industry, lets you divide up the work and share resources. An added bonus is this strategy increases your brand exposure by getting in front of your content partner’s audience as well.
Instead of waiting to be approached, you can be proactive by presenting an idea to co-host a webinar, topics for guest blogs, volunteering for a case study or submitting speaker engagements.
5. Take opportunities for brand awareness, no matter how small
Brand awareness doesn’t have to mean billboards everywhere. Not only is this financially unrealistic, but it’s also not needed for professional services firms. The good news is small details can make a big impact here. Brand awareness can simply mean taking all opportunities to keep your brand present in people’s minds.
For example, make sure you have a template of word docs and powerpoints that include your logo and brand colors. Custom invoicing templates that include your logo are a great way to keep the same branded-polished look throughout the customer lifecycle. Even sending a simple handwritten thank you note to customers helps build the way your brand is perceived in their minds.
6. Offer incentives for referrals
Referral marketing is great for growing your network with warm leads because they come from a trusted source. You can create a basic referral marketing program by offering current clients an incentive, such a percentage off their next invoice if they help bring you new business through recommendation.
This strategy can be one that you have ongoing or one you use during dry periods of your business to help pick things back up. Both versions can be tested, along with a variety of incentives, to find out what drives the best results for your firm.
7. Grow your email list with simple forms
A full form landing page is great for leads that are ready to start a conversation with you, but what about the prospects who are still sitting on the fence? According to The Marketing Blender, B2B buyers are typically 57% of the way to a buying decision before reaching out to sales.
You can grow your email list and get in touch with those potential clients sooner by having an email-only form on your website to subscribe to your blog or learn more information. Then you can use email campaigns to nurture these names with pieces of content so they can self-educate themselves about your firm until they’re ready to be in contact.
I hope you found a few of these tips helpful for your firm. Again, I would start with couple, track their progress and add more as you feel you have the bandwidth to take it on. No matter how small the effort, it’s always better than nothing!
We will have another post in this series of do-it-yourself business strategies for professional services firms. Next up we’ll be tackling Public Relations. You can subscribe to our blog to make sure you don’t miss the post, and read our PSA 101 guide next to get more ideas on improving your firm.
About the Author
Senior Manager, Content MarketingSee more by Trilby Lawless