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Innovating Professional Services Marketing to What’s Next

“Innovation” can mean many different things – from audacious ideas that transform global economies to incremental improvements that create exponential change for your small marketing team.

The disruption of 2020 created unexpected innovations across many industries, pushing past current best practices – connecting and converging ideas from different areas of business, economy, technology, science and more. These next practices are what’s likely to shape your company’s business and marketing in the decade ahead.

Digital-First Strategy, Systems and Processes

The Driver

Although the pandemic didn’t start the digital transformation, it has accelerated it. Our reliance on digital – professionally and personally – has brought a high degree of innovation in many industry sectors.

For companies, managing all operations, communications, projects, business development, marketing, client services, and employee experience remotely has moved “fully digital” from a goal to be achieved in the future to a must-have to survive today.

Looking Back

Most companies have been successful at conquering WFH, virtual client meetings, and remote events. They’ve mastered Zoom and Teams, adopted Slack, implemented a CRM, and set up a DAM. However, many technology decisions focused on using technology simply to replicate existing processes instead of strategically accelerating companies into the future.

What’s Next

Among many operational benefits of technology is its ability to eliminate tasks nobody (human) wants to do, leading to increased innovation, productivity, and employee satisfaction. Amazon’s Hands off the Wheel program, for example, is designed to automate admin tasks and refocus people on work that matters. This allows Amazon to innovate and grow at a higher rate while increasing job satisfaction by taking the mundane out of a workday.

What would eliminating some tedious tasks at your company do to its ability to innovate or focus on work that delivers value to clients?

Digital-First Marketing

The Driver

Today’s fully digitized consumers of all generations (a.k.a., your clients and employees) expect companies’ digital channels and interactions to offer the speed and convenience available to them in their personal lives.

Looking Back

B2B and professional services industries have always been quick to proclaim, “our marketing is very different from B2C.” As a result, the adoption of digital and social channels, investment in SEO and online lead generation strategies, and implementation of tactics such as personalization and omnichannel have lagged behind.

What’s Next

To meet the rising expectations of business consumers, companies must think beyond traditional B2B marketing “best practices.” Challenge the assumption that your offerings can’t be marketed using new approaches and get innovative in your thinking.

Providing self-directed online options for initial information intake; automating the new client and employee onboarding processes; and adding chatbots and video messaging to your website align with how people like to connect, engage and conduct business today.

Digital assistants like Siri and Alexa simplify our lives with voice commands. Deltek Vantagepoint’s “Hey Deltek” uses the same technology to increase ease of use, efficiency and productivity for its users by applying voice commands to simple tasks, such as adding or editing records and creating reminders.

What can your marketing borrow from other industries to get ahead of the competition?

Digital-First Business Development

The Driver

Changing demographics, globalization, and far-reaching effects of the pandemic continue to accelerate the shift toward a predominantly digital buyer journey.

The 2020 McKinsey survey found that 70%-80% of B2B decision makers now prefer digital self-serve and remote engagement over face-to-face interactions and don’t plan to change their habits post-pandemic. Although this trend takes away one of the principal tools that B2B companies use to build business and maintain client relationships – in-person interactions – for smaller companies, this could create a level playing field in the long run.

Looking Back

As many companies waited for the return to “normal,” very few continued to invest in improving their digital buyer journey. A year ago, shifting in-person interactions to video conferencing was a big win. Today, simply interacting with prospects online is no longer enough.

What’s Next

As business customers demand more control over how they decide what, when, and from whom to buy, a hybrid sales process and digital commerce may not seem as far-fetched as they were even a year ago.

With sales experience as the #1 driver of customer loyalty (Challenger), companies need to get better at engaging prospects with information and insight that help them do their jobs and make more informed decisions, meeting them where they are – online or off.

Several B2B industries are taking the lead in ecommerce. A McKinsey survey uncovered that 70% of B2B decision makers feel confident making new, fully self-serve or remote purchases over $50,000, and 27% would be open to spending more than $500,000.

Does your company have offerings or recurring services that can be turned into digital products with self-serve transactions?

Let’s Keep Evolving into the Future

Marketing for the future will require new knowledge, tools and skillsets. Most importantly, it will require a new mindset. To differentiate your company, you have to look beyond the familiar (what we’ve always done), beyond what others in the industry are doing (best practices), and beyond traditional professional services and B2B marketing.

As marketers, we need to keep innovating and evolving – evolving our approaches, our firms, and, together, our industries.

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You don’t have to venture into the new, brave, fully digital world alone! Let a Substance151 expert be your guide – contact us to schedule a conversation.