The compelling case for a firm digital strategy
Marketing is complicated, and only becoming more so as digital factors in. Digital is changing accounting and has created a whole new playing field for firms to compete and grow.
While some see digital as a business disruptor, it is, in fact, a relationship enabler. Especially in professional services.
According to Thompson Reuters, 60% of Americans conduct online research before making a decision about an accounting (firm or) service.
Whether researching your firm, participating in a webinar, or engaging on a social media post, digital enables accessibility to information they deem useful.
The impact of the pandemic on people working at and buying from home has escalated our reliance on and comfort with virtual interaction. Consumers have more dependence on the internet than ever before — in both B2C and B2B.
Most firms believe that if they have a website, they are already engaging in digital marketing. Not so. A digital presence encompasses more than websites, email campaigns, and social media platforms. It involves a cultural shift whereby firms prioritize the customization and personalization of content for relevance directly to the recipient. A thorough digital plan will also use data to assess engagement and support restructuring tactics in the event of sudden market shifts.
McKinsey, which has been years ahead in methodically monitoring and understanding digital transformation, reported in May 2020 that, “Indeed, recent data show that we have vaulted five years forward in consumer and business digital adoption in a matter of around eight weeks.” The pandemic has changed our behavior so extremely in such a short period that we have become comfortably reliant upon the internet for work and school, as well as for research, getting information, entertainment, news, business, banking, and, of course, shopping.
The generational gap has even narrowed when contemplating our dependence on the internet as “85% of Americans say they (now) go online on a daily basis,” according the Pew Research Center. With three-in-ten adults “almost constantly” online, it should be no surprise that the biggest challenge for firms will be to bridge the virtual divide between clients’ expectations and your delivery. Business development in professional services will evolve from word-of-mouth referrals to attracting and retaining clients through targeted, online marketing engagement. The relationship dynamic will be converted to a virtual experience and service delivery.
At the onset of the pandemic, we talked quite a bit about geographic lines blurring. Remote work capabilities allowed us to hire the best professionals for the job and technology enabled them to work from anywhere — even a different state!
These blurred lines have also given firms the ability to target and serve clientele located anywhere in the country. A game changer for those wanting to build strong, national niche practices and/or create a firm presence elsewhere. Information, integration and transactions are more free flowing, expedient, and efficient.
The additional benefit has to do with monitoring where people are going online, what they are looking for/at, whether they are engaging, and what they are saying. This B2B buyer behavior is data that can be used by firms to help make more informed decisions. In the near future, clients will demand personalization, responsiveness, and ease in information gathering and relationship building – no different than you do when using Amazon to make purchases.
While expertise, and results are crucial elements of the purchasing decision, the true test of engagement will be with personalization. A more “hands on approach can rapidly drive double-digit revenue growth — without increasing marketing budgets,” claims McKinsey.
Keeping abreast of evolving customer behaviors and preferences is always a challenge. Today, consumer centricity in marketing is the key to a long and successful relationship. Digital integration should be built around the client, not the firm, and provide clients with an extraordinary experience. It’s no longer about touching the client as much as it is about meeting them where they want to be met. Messaging revolves around what they feel they need to know and less about what you want to tell them. Content has to be timely and relevant, and more so than ever, deliver exceptional client service
Data is more about people and less about technology. It can provide granular insights into consumers’ behavior. Their performance can be indicative of an impactful, worthwhile experience or a disruptive client journey. A strong and intentional digital strategy can provide a compass of sorts to firm growth. Understanding behaviors, enabling personalization, and deepening relationships will be where firms are able to differentiate on a competitive scale.
Assuming a digital strategy can’t help you grow is perhaps the biggest mistake a firm can make. For example, there is a misconception that digital cannot attract high net worth (HNW) individuals/families or larger companies. Quite the opposite. In fact, one significant benefit of digital is that it can help to target specific prospects more easily converting those leads with tailored messages that demonstrate brand differentiation and assert a competitive edge. Another inaccuracy is that niche sectors don’t require the support. An effective digital strategy framework can accelerate the success of a firm’s niche and create more profitability.
Jack Welch said, “If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near.” If your firm doesn’t have a digital strategy to connect, engage, interact, and transact with clients and prospects, take the time to do so now! This digital world is moving at an unprecedented rate of speed and if you’re not participating in it now, it may be impossible to catch up.
Cut through the confusion. Visit www.digitaldeepdive.org and learn how your firm can create and apply a digital marketing strategy that supports your firm’s growth, this year and into the future.