Professional Services I will define as any company that sells their service or expertise opposed to selling a physical product. This includes dentists, lawyers, doctors and too many more professions to continue to name. One thing they all have in common is that they believe they offer a service worth money to others or they would not (or should not) be in business.
With that said, all Professional Service businesses face a common problem: how to let potential clients in need of their service know about them.
Before the Internet, it was much more cut and dry. There was word of mouth, newspaper ads and the good ole yellow pages. Today, online is where the majority of potential clients begin and generally end their search (approximately 80% based on a recent Forbes article). The game has definitely changed.
Here are some ways that Professional Services can go about getting in front of potential clients.
Yelp – Yelp is an online source that customers can search for anything from restaurants to shopping to yes Professional Services. Yelp offers free listings where your organization can create a page and be displayed based on popularity (reviews) along with Yelp’s algorithmic match to a user’s search criteria and location. Yelp offers a free page that can be customized, which does offer an online presence. However, where Yelp makes its money is offering paid ads where companies pay for their listings to be displayed on the top of searches. Yelp uses a CPM model charging for total impressions (when the ad appears) rather than a CPC (charging when the ad is clicked). This of course encourages Yelp to show its advertisers ads as much as possible which many times has its advertisers paid listings display on irrelevant searches (a major complaint of many Yelp advertisers).
Yellow Pages or (YP.com) – It used to be a must to advertise in the Yellow Pages; however that was before the Internet. Today, potential customer behavior has changed. Formerly, a simple set it and forget it strategy of having your ad appear in a book of ads, the Yellow Pages have evolved into YP.com. Although possibly still relevant based on the urgency of your business, such as plumbers, advertising on YP.com faces challenges that include the lack of use by potential clients, the lack of the ability for an advertiser to track their results and YP’s lacking the ability to allow advertisers to bid on a wide variety of keywords.
Google AdWords – Although many people think of Google AdWords solely for companies selling toasters or t-shirts it couldn’t be further from the truth. Google can be a great source of lead generation for Professional Service companies and here is why:
1. Ability to track – With Google AdWords you can track the results of every click that has resulted from your ads. In addition, when you create a Google AdWords account you are given access to a free online analytics tracking software (Google Analytics) that allows you to see all customer behavior on your website. This not only helps advertisers track Google AdWords, but other marketing channels as well. In addition, Google provides call stats which give advertisers information on potential clients that have called based on Google ads.
2. Ability to set your budget – With Google AdWords, you determine how much you are willing to spend on both the overall campaign as well as each individual keyword. This functionality allows marketers to optimize revenue by increasing bids on productive keywords and minimizing or eliminating bids on non-productive keywords.
3. Geographical targeting – With Google AdWords you determine who sees your ads. This functionality is important for local oriented Professional Services companies ensuring they are only paying to advertise to potential clients within their service radius.
4. Ad Scheduling – Allows advertisers to determine the time of day or day of week that their ads run as well as allowing changes to advertising budget for different times. This is important, for example, if an advertiser wants their ads to show only during open business hours or when a customer service representative is available to answer incoming calls.
5. Bid By Device – This feature allows advertisers to vary the amount they are willing to pay for a keyword based on what device is being used to search their ad (laptop, tablet or mobile). An important tool in optimizing campaigns in order to provide cost effective results.
6. Retargeting – Allows advertisers to display ads to customers who have visited their website and left without purchasing. Retargeting, also called remarketing, extends a company’s advertising reach allowing Professional Services to stay in front of potential clients whenever the clients are searching other websites within the Google Network.
7. Display Network – Allows advertisers to display ads on relevant news articles and other related spaces in the Google Network which helps extend an advertiser’s reach beyond that of potential clients doing Google searches.
Although not all techniques are going to be right for every Professional Service company, a properly implemented Google campaign should use what is available to test and the Google Analytics program, which is available free of charge to Google advertisers, makes it possible to do so.
Today, it is harder and more competitive to get the word out about your organization and those companies not fully utilizing Google and the features available are going to start one-step behind.
Still need help or looking for someone to bounce ideas off? I am currently offering free marketing strategy sessions to those interested. Contact True Online Presence at 1-888-456-6943 to schedule.
Andy Splichal is an online marketing strategist with more than a decade and a half of experience helping companies increase their online presence and profitable revenues. Although this blog focuses on driving profitable traffic through Google AdWords, True Online Presence offers additional services for lead generation as well as other proven marketing strategies customized for each client.