Open vs Closed Content Marketing: Which Accountant Should You Contact?
Here’s the thing, professional services firms are by far the most conservative marketers out there. You could argue a case that medicos supersede them, but I realise legislation might have a role to play with that.
But why are they so conservative?
Melissah Smith hits the nail in the head by claiming that most professional services firms feel that “good work speaks for itself” and “you need to find the clients pain” when undertaking any form of marketing. This may have been entirely true several years ago, but we’re in a digital era where 57% of the purchase decision is complete even before a customer calls a supplier.
How does this happen?
Your prospect has already done their due diligence, my friend.
You have to build trust, it’s that simple.
How do you do that when you don’t have an opportunity to engage with potential clients that are in need of your services?
With your website of course (assuming you have one of those?). But to take it one step further, the latest 2015 B2B Usability Report by Huff Industrial Marketing & KoMarketing concluded that in addition to supplying your contact information, respondents indicated that research reports (42%), client testimonials (38%) and case studies/white papers/blog articles (37%) were rated as “must have” or “very important” when establishing a business’s credibility.
Let’s observe this scenario
I was lucky enough to stumble across Trevor Young’s post on LinkedIn which presented this scenario that summed up the impact of operating a business with a poor digital presence vs one which has invested time and effort in order to appeal to their target audience.
Let’s assume you have two accounting practices to choose from (both recommended by trusted sources) and assuming all things equal with their skillset, size and pricing models. Trevor refers to one as a ‘closed shop’ which has a website full of stock imagery, poor social media presence, no blog, brags a lot, no photos of their staff – you see where this is headed?
Now on the other side we have an ‘open shop’ which is a transparent practice that features photos of their staff, a company blog where various staff members contribute their thoughts, an active social media presence and they even have a podcast where the firm’s partners pass on their knowledge to existing and prospective clients.
The below infographic summarises the scenario, but Trevor goes into more detail in his post.
But wait, you want examples of businesses doing it right?
I thought you’d never ask 🙂 Here are two vastly different businesses that showcase digital trust by following the ‘open shop’ approach and do a pretty decent job of it.
1. Charles Badenach (Financial Adviser)
Charles does a clever job of hitting all the right notes we spoke about on his home job. We see the use of his real photo, the menu shows us a publish option which features articles, blog posts and we even have a video on the bottom right where Charles talks about what he does.
As a potential client, I have enough information to make an informed decision whether to contact Charles regarding my financial affairs.
SalesITV have a team of high-powered individuals that focus on providing the world’s largest single source sales and customer service training library to bolster your team’s selling skills.
Let’s jump right into their blog which is not only active from a social sharing perspective but we can immediately pick up that a number of team members openly contribute their thoughts to the blog. Having a multi-author blog allows different employees to demonstrate their own skillset, build their own brand and reach a new audience through their own following.
If you wanted to learn more about the team, their about us page features ‘real’ photos of their team with a bio and if you wanted to connect with them on social media, you have access to their respective usernames.
Going back to our earlier scenario, which practice would you contact?
Would you go with the ‘closed shop’ which barely offers any insight to their business nor do you have pictures of who operates and works within the business?
Do you go with the ‘open shop’ which lays everything out on a platter from images of staff and the practice to highlight their culture, engaging content via their blog and an active social media presence.
I know my answer, but I’d love to hear yours. When you’re in need of a professional service, how do you decide which provider to contact?
How to Turn 70% of Your Prospects into Customers [Infographic]
According to a study from PeopleMetrics, sales professionals need to go ‘above and beyond’ when it comes to providing a true customer experience.
What does it mean to go above and beyond?
If we look at it from a net promoter score perspective, the study found that scores increased from 37 to 51 when the sales professional went above and beyond. We’ve summarised the 4 key characteristics (credit to HubSpot) below of what it means to go the distance:
This one is a no-brainer and I’m sure you’ve probably come across the below quote at some point. We often listen with the intent to formulate a reply but what we should be doing is listening to understand.
The only way to deliver a personal solution to each customer is to have an honest understanding of what they want. Know what your customer needs and when appropriate take notes.
By personalising, we don’t mean simply adding the name of your prospect in your presentations. Take it a step further and personalise your content based on their industry and the personas you serve or personalise based on where they are in their buying journey e.g. no point discussing what your social analytics tool can offer when your prospect’s firm is yet to employ a social media strategy.
Why is personalising so important? According to Gartner research, 85% of customers will manage their relationship without even talking to you!
We can conclusively say that the day of the aggressive sales person are gone and there has been an evolution of the type of attitude that is needed by sales professionals today. It’s all about relationship building and leveraging these to bring about the sale. In a recent SalesITV research, 88% of sales professionals felt that customers value relationships as much as ever.
This point comes down to the sales professional character as an individual and their morals or ethics. If your prospect is hosting a charity fundraiser event, perhaps it’s worthwhile attending (it’s for a good cause and you’re increasing the touch points with your prospect). Maybe you had a successful meeting and want to thank them in a more personal way – send them a thank you note (certainly has a stronger effect than email).
What about your sales team or you as a professional – how do you go above and beyond for your customers?
Infographic: Is Your Social Selling Creepy?
Have you ever received a LinkedIn request from a salesperson wanting to connect without any given season? Maybe you met someone at a conference and now they’ve tracked you down on Facebook – it all seems a bit too creepy doesn’t it?
The trusty creative folks at HubSpot have put together an excellent report which examines some both buyer and consumer behaviour when it comes to social selling techniques across multiple platforms.
Here’s a link to the teaser article and full report
While the overall results of the report doesn’t conclusively provide a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer, what we can agree to is:
– Tailor your message to the individual. If you met them at a conference, mention it in your email or LinkedIn request and add context. Here’s an example of how your LinkedIn invites should be structured.
– Get introduced. If you have a mutual connection on LinkedIn or you know a colleague which has a better relationship with the individual, simply ask if they could facilitate an introduction.
– Keep your social touches ‘soft’. By that I mean, don’t head over to a prospect’s blog and constantly write comments or retweet, share every piece of information they share. Softer touches such as ‘liking’ or ‘favouriting’ a piece of content is less intrusive and easier to undertake from a time perspective.
Here’s our infographic which summarises 5 of the key principles we enjoyed from HubSpot’s report.
If you enjoyed the infographic, please feel free to share it with your audience and simply tag our social profiles. We’ll be happy to join the discussion.