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Over the past several years, the advertising industry has undergone a series of paradigm shifts. The era when radio, television, and print were the perfect trifecta is no more. Digital advertising is now the disruptor with billions of dollars invested in digital advertising worldwide.   That’s why you need to bring it to your business. 

Why you need to consider advertising: 

There’s an old saying, “you need to spend money to make money”. 

Whatever type of business you are in and regardless of how big or small your firm is, you need to advertise. Relying solely on reputation, in-person events and word of the mouth referrals will only help you to maintain and bring in very few clients. It’s also not a scalable strategy as you grow.

Advertising via different channels (e.g. social media, content marketing, email) to promote your services greatly increases the pool size of potential clients, and in turn, boosts sales and better positions your business. 

Without advertising, the chances of prospective clients knowing about your firm and services are greatly reduced. 

Then why do professional service firms doubt the effectiveness of advertising?

First of all, most professional service firms are small to mid-size and have a smaller advertising budget. This means creating brand awareness of the firm will be challenging. In addition, when you are selling a service you are largely selling a relationship and this is very difficult to convey in an ad, no matter what the format. 

With online advertising, you have the options of search or display ads and social media ads. With click rates for display Ad campaigns averaging only 0.35% and 1.91% for search Ads, it’s easy for many professional service firms to quickly dismiss paid advertising. 

As a result, the need for effective advertising is undeniable, versus less strategic approaches which tend to be hit or miss. 

The effectiveness of your advertising campaign depends on:

  • Your objectives – is the ad meant to generate website traffic or sales
  • The aspects that are specific to your business like your target audience and advertising budget
  • The type and medium of advertising you choose
  • Past experience — what has worked in your business before?
  • Your competitors

Advertising channels that are impactful for professional service firms:

Paid search ads 

Pay-per-click advertising (PPC) is a form of advertising where professional service firms can pay to drive traffic to a website and subsequently generate leads, but if executed incorrectly, you run the risk of getting undesired results. 

PPC is one of the most effective means professional service firms can use to promote a landing page, promote a thought leadership piece, tool, checklist, etc. and then follow up with an email drip campaign to build brand trust with current and future clients.

One of the advantages of using Pay-per-click ads is that by spending $X in PPC ads you can get $Y in sales each month. Also, you can incorporate PPC costs into your pricing and be perfectly comfortable spending X percent of your revenue on advertising.

However, due to high competition for certain keywords, you need heavy financial investment and a planned, sustained strategy around campaigns to really get noticed.

The downside to PPC ads is that they may not work for every professional service firm. For example, if you are a niche B2B consulting business that typically has a complex and long sales cycle, your potential clients are probably not looking for a solution on Google, Yahoo or Bing. Rather than buy immediately based on a click, they have to get comfortable with you before hiring your services. In such a case, your money could be better spent on other forms of advertising like social media advertising, or sponsored content. 

Social media ads

Social media ads are less expensive in comparison to PPC ads and tend to have a higher engagement and conversion rate. According to the global web index, 4 out of 10 internet users say they follow their favorite brands on social media. This is perfect for professional service firms.

In terms of usage, Facebook is still the dominant social media platform in the United States but LinkedIn is better because it is as good as the personal network you create at in-person events.

The smaller but focused user base on LinkedIn means there is less noise than on other social media networks. This makes it easier to get to your target audience. In contrast to Facebook, on LinkedIn, you can still generate lots of leads and business without spending a cent.

However, both platforms still remain important advertising channels for many professional service firms. 

Due to stiff competition, your ads need to be very targeted and have a specific objective and call to action (CTA). Consider Re-targeting prior visitors based on the exact page(s) that they visited during their time on your website. Make your ads dynamic by creating tailor-made content and messaging for the exact visitors you want to target. For example, consider targeting people who went to your pricing page. 

Another important factor to consider is how persuasive and creative your ad needs to be to attract the attention of prospective clients.  

So, Does Advertising Work for Professional Service Firms? The simple answer is yes, but its success largely depends on your advertising objectives, budget, and message.

Good advertising will create interest, generate public enthusiasm, and grow your business. The more effective it is, the more clients it draws in and the greater the profit will be for your firm. 

Let us know in the comments which advertising channels you use, and which ones work best for you. As always, if you found this information helpful, feel free to share this blog post on social media.