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example digital marketing strategy | Digital Marketing Strategy for Professional Services

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Example Digital Marketing Strategy: A wave of digital technology is changing industry after industry, and professional services are no exception to this trend. Potential customers now have new ways to learn about and investigate potential service providers. This change is forcing firms to rethink their digital marketing strategies if they want to remain competitive.

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In this post, we’ll review the role of digital marketing in the growth plans of professional services firms and suggest an approach to developing a winning digital strategy for your firm. Let’s start by reviewing some key concepts.

Digital Marketing Strategy Defined

A digital marketing strategy is a plan for using digital marketing tools and techniques to achieve a firm’s strategic marketing objectives, such as brand building or new business development. Digital marketing strategy is often a part of an overall strategic marketing plan that includes both digital and traditional (offline) approaches. Common digital technologies include search engine optimization, digital advertising, email, webinars, social media, websites and mobile apps.

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In the growing digital marketing space, you will often hear people talking about strategies and techniques interchangeably. While this practice may be fine in the consumer products market, it misses some important differences relevant to professional service marketers.

example digital marketing strategy

Digital Marketing Strategy vs. Digital Marketing Techniques

Digital marketing strategy is high-level planning and strategic choices that determine the direction your firm is positioned in the market and the key messages you will deliver to your audience. Your high-end strategy should be the same in both the digital and offline worlds.

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Digital marketing techniques are the specific digital platforms and strategies you use to deliver those messages and engage your audience. An example of a common digital technique is to use search engine optimization to attract online traffic to specific sections of your website.

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From LinkedIn postings to webinars and podcasts, potential clients are finding new ways to educate themselves and evaluate professional service providers. Digital technology and strategy are fluid and can change quickly.

The strategy is more stable and covers the long-term outlook. While a strategy may require minor adjustments along its path, its fundamentals should change little, if at all, over the course of a year. That said, sometimes major disruptions — such as mergers and acquisitions or intense market competition — can shake up the market and require you to reevaluate your strategy. But this is a rare exception.

Later in this post we will address both strategy and techniques as we go about developing your digital marketing strategy. Both are important when it comes to generating measurable results with your digital marketing efforts.

example digital marketing strategy

Digital Marketing vs. Traditional Marketing

There has been an ongoing debate since the advent of digital marketing for professional services: which is better, digital or traditional? Over time, it became clear that this was a wrong choice. Most professional service firms require a mix of both.

You have some important choices to make. You have to balance your offline and online presence.

Figure 1. Many traditional marketing techniques (blue) have online counterparts (green).

As Figure 1 illustrates, most traditional offline marketing techniques also have digital analogues. Traditional speaking engagements have a corresponding webinar alternative. There is print and digital advertising. Each marketing approach has advantages and disadvantages.

Figure 2. Strengths and limitations of digital and traditional marketing.

Our research has shown that the fastest growing and most profitable firms use a mix of both. But be careful. Don’t spread yourself so thin that everything you do doesn’t have an effect. Dubbing doesn’t work well. Going deeper with fewer techniques usually yields better results.

When selecting the best tool for your situation, consider which approach is most likely to reach your target audience. Also take into account the effectiveness and efficiency of your various options. We’ll discuss this selection process below as we research your target audience and select marketing techniques.

How to Create a Digital Marketing Strategy | example digital marketing strategy

In many ways, the process of developing a digital marketing strategy parallels the process for developing your overall strategic marketing plan or your marketing budgets.

  1. START WITH YOUR BUSINESS GOALS

Strategic marketing, whether digital or traditional, begins with your firm’s strategic goals. What are you trying to achieve? Do you want to grow the firm? Are you trying to gain visibility for your brand? Firm position for acquisition?

You will want to understand which areas of practice you are targeting with your digital strategy. Most firms have a variety of customers who purchase a variety of specialized services. Who are you targeting with your digital strategy? Which segments will be easiest to reach? Once you’ve narrowed down your options, it’s time to gain a deeper understanding of your target audience.

  1. RESEARCH YOUR TARGET AUDIENCES

The next step in designing a digital marketing strategy is to identify and research your target audience. The value of this research is evident when you consider that high-growth professional services firms are three times more likely to conduct research consistently as their slower-growth peers.

Your target audience is the group of people you need to reach to execute your digital strategy. Here are some common examples of target audiences:

POTENTIAL CLIENTS

This target audience could be further segmented by industry, role or other persona characteristics, if those distinctions are important.

INFLUENCERS
Individual influencers, and sometimes a formal selection committee, often advise the final decision maker and can be valuable targets in a digital campaign.

REFERRAL SOURCES
In some circumstances, referral sources can be so influential that they become de facto decision makers. Industry analysts and influential thought leaders can also pay a pivotal role.

TALENT
In many industries, talent shortages can severely impact a firm’s ability to deliver on its promises. This makes potential employees or subcontractors important target audiences. Think of these efforts as building your digital employer brand.

After considering all the possible people you need to reach, you may find that you have more target audiences than you can reasonably address. So how do you prioritize and select audiences?

How do you prioritize audiences?

Many companies research several potential audiences or market segments to help them choose the most responsive markets. We call this opportunity research and it goes far beyond just looking at the growth rates of different sectors.

Research questions can explore the competitive environment, the buying behavior of potential customers, your firm’s brand strength in various markets, and other factors that can highlight the potential for success in alternative market segments.

Your level of experience with segments can matter as you prioritize your audience. Don’t try to be everything to everyone. The firm that believes “everyone” is the right target for its service is at a distinct disadvantage. Its efforts will be spread so thin that it will have no effect on anyone.

In most cases the target audience for your digital marketing strategy will be similar to your overall marketing goals. Once you have identified your target audience, it is time to learn more about their behavior and digital footprint.

How do you research target audiences?

There are two broad types of research that can help you develop a winning digital strategy. The first approach is called secondary research. In this approach you search for research studies that have already been conducted by another organization. Trade associations or publishers often release studies about specific industries. Likewise, there are many organizations that sell relevant research on market sizes or trends.

For example, Hinge publishes research on marketing practices for professional service firms that provides useful marketing budget benchmarks and lists the most effective marketing techniques.

The second approach is primary research. In this type of research, you do a basic study of your target audience. Primary research is more expensive, but it has the advantage of addressing the important questions that are most relevant to your specific circumstances.

When you combine primary research with high-quality secondary research, you get the best of both worlds: a complete, well-informed view of your audience. This market intelligence dramatically reduces risk and makes marketing more of a science than an expensive guessing game.

LEARN HOW THE HINGE RESEARCH INSTITUTE CAN HELP YOU TURN YOUR RESEARCH INTO VALUABLE, EASY-TO-CONSUME CONTENT THAT YOUR CUSTOMERS AND CONSTITUENTS ACTUALLY WANT.

DEVELOP YOUR DIGITAL MARKETING STRATEGY
An effective digital marketing strategy framework has four key elements. If you have already done this work for your overall marketing strategy, it will likely be very similar for your digital strategy.

DIFFERENTIATORS
What sets your firm or practice apart from your competitors? Often, the research you performed earlier will help you discover differentiators that you may not have been aware of before. For example, you might learn that the unique way you deliver the findings of your assessment is unusually helpful to clients. Alternatively, you might choose a differentiator. For example, you might decide to specialize in a specific industry or type of service.

MARKET POSITIONING
The next element of your framework is the market positioning of your firm. How is your firm positioned relative to key competitors? Is your firm the low-cost alternative? Are you the specialists that command top dollar? Your positioning is built upon your differentiators. They are the bricks that build the house that is your market positioning. Your positioning gives your audiences the cohesive and compelling story they need to prefer your firm over your competitors.

KEY MESSAGES
What key messages do each of your audiences need to hear? These will likely vary from audience to audience. For instance, potential employees are probably going to be interested in different things than your referral sources. But be careful. Key messages must not contradict each other — and should all be consistent with your firm’s overall market positioning.

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