There’s a lot of information about the benefits of inbound marketing (or digital marketing) for client attraction but, for many firms, that’s not the primary focus.
Instead they want to keep their existing clients and grow their share of work.
Well, here’s the thing: digital marketing can help with this too. Before we get into how, let’s look at what it is.
“Inbound marketing is an approach focused on attracting clients through content and interactions that are relevant and helpful – not interruptive. Potential [and existing] clients find you through channels like blogs, search engines and social media.” (Hubspot definition).
That’s pretty much what most professional services firms are trying to do – educate and empower their clients, isn’t it? Yet much of their digital marketing appears to be a side-piece, not completely integrated with their key objectives.
If you think that sounds unfair, consider this: many firms have good client relationship programmes in place with dedicated client teams and strong research, business development and marketing support.
Yet, what tends to happen when those in the client team get busy? In many cases, things fall off the radar.
Which is completely understandable. Yet it doesn’t have to be a fait accompli. A good inbound approach will enable your team to continue to deliver value to clients even when people are busy. It will help you get found when people within the client organisation have a question they need answering.
Which is exactly what we want, right?
So, how can you use inbound marketing with existing clients?
It comes down to being hyper-focussed:
- Who are the people you most want to reach in each client organisation?
- What are their motivations, needs and drivers in the areas in which you want to target them?
Once you know these things you can put a plan together for each person/group of people.
It’s not simply a case of emailing everyone who has signed up to your ‘corporate law updates’ your latest news alert, but about really understanding each persona (or even each individual where you’re working with a limited number of high-value clients) so that you can continually deliver value.
And value is going to be different for different people/groups of people within an organisation depending on their role, priorities and needs.
For example, an existing user of your services may value early releases of research reports or access to white-labeled content they can use within their organisation. Whereas if you’re looking to generate work in a new area from someone who uses a competitor, you’ll want to make sure they find and see your helpful content – i.e. you’ll want to deliver value to them even though they’re not currently working with you.
The usual principles of digital marketing will apply to existing clients – but it will be much more highly targeted. Lists may only have one or two people in them, content will be designed for a small number of people and take into account where they are in their journey (i.e. the active research phase someone goes through from recognising they have a need or opportunity to making a purchase decision). This content will link to other content these people are likely to value. Distribution channels will be based on your knowledge of these people and their preferences.
Much of the process can be automated and some software providers enable you to set up workflows that automatically add people if they meet criteria specified by you. Linking everything back to your CRM is key as it enables everyone in your firm to see, at a glance, the content an individual has interacted with etc. which can lead to your relationship team having much better conversations.
We’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg here. But if you find progress stalls when your client relationship teams get busy, then you might want to give inbound marketing a try.
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