How to stand out in an over-crowded professional services market

By Aneela Hoque, Marketing Manager at Digital Glue.

In this increasing age of instant news and relentless promotion, it’s harder than ever for businesses to stand out and focus on being as relevant as possible in their respective sectors, especially in the professional services sector.

Different companies face different challenges. A business with a seven-figure turnover might be finding it hard to flourish in an alternative sector they’re looking to pursue.A small company of fewer than 20 people might be struggling to promote their services and all of its portfolio work when competing against larger, louder companies with bigger budgets and more outreach.

Getting your fair share of the noise can be difficult in competitive industries like professional services. In this article, you’ll find tips on how you can set your business aside from your competitors and stand out from the crowd.

Traditional PR

PR is an incredibly effective tool for smaller businesses as its primary goals are building reputation and credibility, reaching out to new audiences and creating brand awareness.

A good PR strategy is based on attaining a good mixture of coverage that’s right for your business. This could include news, but it might also be about reviews for your services or news on partnerships with organisations. You could do a face-to-face interview or meeting with the press, work with external bloggers, influencers and bring on brand ambassadors. This is all geared towards getting your name out there and showing that you are an expert in your field.

Digital PR

Like traditional PR, digital PR contributes to brand awareness. However, one of the biggest benefits of digital PR, which traditional PR can’t offer, is its ability to increase your online presence, most notably your search engine visibility and ranking. A digital strategy involves gaining high-quality backlinks to your website, therefore improving your SEO and boosting traffic to your website.

There’s no point in getting published on any old site, however. To really reap the benefits, you need to focus on hyper-relevant sites. What sites is your audience frequenting? For example, if you are a HR consultancy firm, researching publications within HR and trying to build connections and relationships with the contacts at those publications is key. Align your PR efforts to your area expertise and who you are targeting.

Digital PR also builds trust, which is extremely important within the professional service industry. The first thing the majority of people do before they make any sort of service purchase is online research. When people type your brand name or a related search term into Google, you want to appear positively. Engaging content and impartial reviews on trusted sites will boost your credibility and encourage your target audience to buy from you over a competitor.

Blogging

Writing regular blog content is something you can do straight away to help you build your digital PR.We regularly write blogs for our own website and for our clients, positioning them as expert leaders in their field. Blogs will drive more traffic to your website, enabling you to share them on social media and pitch out to press, which can open up a number of features, interviews or media meeting opportunities. Do this on a consistent basis to stay front of mind, consistently fresh with content, and to demonstrate that you are both reactive and proactive within your field of expertise.

 Search Engine Optimisation

SEO will help your website rank for specific search terms on different search engines. SEO when done properly, will help your website become more visible to your target audience, therefore helping potential customers find you. Create a strategy around popular key search terms that you want to be recognised for, mixed with search terms that people are already using to find you. It’s important to remember that SEO is not a one-time thing, it’s a continued effort that gets you exposure and better-quality leads.

Social Media Presence

Social media is increasingly being used to share opinions and experiences,business interactions and recommendations from fellow users. When it comes to picking a social media platform for your business, think about your target audience and where they are likely to be.

If you’re an accountancy firm that helps businesses with tax returns, you’ll be targeting smaller businesses or entrepreneurs, therefore LinkedIn would be the right platform for you. Whichever platform you pick, it’s important to have a presence on the platform, ensuring you post regularly and interact with your social community. Use social media to tell your story and connect with your customers. Build relationships with your audience and offer value with your content to help build trust. Social media is great way for people to get to know your business.

Whatever activities you focus on, integrating your approach and combining PR, digital marketing and social media, can help you stand out in a competitive market, boost your reputation, build-up brand awareness and help you reach new audiences. All of this should be part of a mix, all geared to helping you grow your business.