Insights from Propero Partners Panel Event: The future of marketing for professional services
When you woke up this morning, were you one of the four out of five people who check their phone within the first 15 minutes? After heading to the kitchen for a spot of breakfast, how many branded products did you see?
We’re literally drowning in brands. Estimates currently sit around 10,000 brands we see every day. You’re obviously not going to be able to recall being exposed to that many – we’ve developed a means to filter them out. Around 100 usually penetrate our attention.
So how can you be one of the 100? Being memorable is the only way to float to the top when there’s such a sea of brands to swim against.
You must stand out and the best way to do that is by researching your market, knowing your competitors, and having a marketing strategy to guide your activities. The clincher is – however you decide to engage your target audience, you need to do it as soon as possible. According to a report by the Consumer Insights team of Microsoft Canada, the average human attention span in 2000 was 12 seconds, but has now fallen to less than 8 seconds (while the attention span of a goldfish is 9 seconds). So you better be memorable.
Professional services firms face an extra challenge, in that they deliver a specific niche service, and therefore targeting the correct audience becomes paramount.
Other challenges include the amount of competition (the magnitude of other messages out there), and maintaining clarity and consistency of the message across platforms. Not only are you encountering a reduced attention span, but also multi-screening (people are not only increasing their time on their smartphones, but using them whilst watching television, or on their laptop or tablet).
Today, people are also consuming information in different ways. “Traditionally, marketing tends to rely on positioning through thought leadership and nice big chunky pieces of research,” according to Jessica Gower, Director, Marketing, Sales & Clients at BDO UK. “People don’t digest that information that way anymore, but your planning needs to focus on that as a delivery point, just not in the bite sized pieces.”
Jessica spoke at Propero Partner’s panel event on the future of professional services marketing. She affirmed that creative storytelling is no longer only for B2C brands, professional services firms need to embrace emotions to break through the attention filter.
It’s no longer enough to rely on the product or service to sell itself. Emotions are a powerful thing, and business buyers don’t leave their humanity at home when they come to work. By employing storytelling, businesses can use narrative to tap into buyer belief and reach them at a level beyond the sea of messages they see every day.
Brand distinction drives success
Technology has made buying business’s services easier – you just pick up your phone or head to Google – but it has also meant that human interaction has been lost. Many firms are finding that referrals are no longer enough. Today, firms have to tell their brand story and sell their message through other touchpoints. The best way to do this is through undertaking the proper research, and developing a strategy to build a brand.
It’s through this market research and intensive strategy and messaging you are able to distinguish your brand, and resonate with your intended audience. The challenge to build awareness and trust around your brand decreases as your brand becomes more recognisable.
32% of people rank brand reputation as a key attribute they look for in a supplier, according to research by FleishmanHillard Fishburn. Their research also finds that buyers want to work with brands that have built up a reputation as industry experts, and storytelling thought leaders. Building trust and reputation is key for brands looking for success in the crowded digital market.
One way to build this is by ensuring your prospective clients are met at every touchpoint. “There’s a huge change in the expectation of reciprocation of communication,” explained Hannah Fish, Head of Marketing at Carpmaels & Ransford.
“It’s not just the immediate response that people are expecting now and it’s the challenge of balancing that against the thoughtful advice that you actually want to give your clients.” Hannah said, speaking at Propero’s panel event. “We don’t want to turn out an automated message all of the time, but if the expectation is that you get some touch point in the meantime, how do we balance that against retaining a credibility in the services that we provide is really important.”
If you’re trying to promote your firm, service or product – you’ve got a lot of competition for your buyer’s attention. This is why a planned marketing strategy and regularly monitoring results is crucial to make your marketing pay off.
Propero can help set you apart. Find out what branding can do for your firm here.