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How to stand out from the crowd in the Professional Services sector

The majority of professional services sites focus on listing their services, sectors and specialists. Remove the logo from each, and the words are pretty homogenous. It feels like these firms are carrying out an exercise in representation, rather than commercial conversion. If every firm lists every service, sector and individual, and if they divide their attention equally across all these areas – the result is 400 words per page of bland capability statements and CVs that are unlikely to draw the customer in, or indeed even leave a fleeting memory by the time they have moved onto the competitor.

So how do you stand out from the crowd?

Firstly firms must understand what their ‘crown jewels’ are, the services and specialisms that really make them stand head and shoulders above their competition. They must recognise that these are the services most likely to attract new prospects and position them as experts, even if once the customer is through the door they have the capability to service a wider need.

By identifying these crown jewels, a firm can start to create real diversity in the content and communications around these services, sectors and individuals without having an impossible content creation mountain to climb.

Customers are looking for relevance, value and differentiation in the websites of professional services firms. This is best achieved not by capability statements but by capability demonstration. Thought leadership is the key to unlocking this opportunity. Pages that show innovative thinking, current insight and passionate expertise will shine through. Short audience focused writing that works equally well on mobile and desktop should be the aim. Powerful blog posts, short videos, infographics, testimonials and case studies will all add real value and engage.

A professional services firm is little more than the sum of its people. As such, people must be at the heart of any design. Whilst CVs are important, what is more important is allowing the personalities and expertise of these individuals to instantly leap off the page. Asking all partners to blog, tweet and engage on slideshare on LinkedIn etc. is likely to take a lot of effort and be daunting to those who don’t willingly engage on social platforms. However having a platform that allows those that actively curate their pages, share their content and amplify their message is essential. Enabling and empowering those that want to, will be the most effective way to bring others with you and encourage a culture shift.

But all the above is worth little if it doesn’t lead to active conversions from prospects to customers and ultimately revenue. Professional service firms must look beyond the sector to identify new ways to start building connections, encourage engagement and build customer data.

Whilst providing email addresses and phone numbers of partners is powerful, it’s a big ask for the first time visitor. Instead there should be a range of softer first engagement steps. From signing up to a webinar, downloading a valuable report, signing up for relevant alerts, or indeed having a live chat with a first point of contact. Not only will these tools lay the foundations for better engagement with prospects, but they will also provide meaningful data and results that can be used to justify investment in digital channels. This approach provides facts about what does and does not work, enables continual evolution of a firm’s digital platform and ultimately, ensures a firm can stay ahead of the competition.