The market for professional services is crowded and competitive. It takes a concerted and consistent effort to stand out from the competition and make a lasting impression in the minds of consumers.
When it comes to gathering information and making purchasing decisions, it is well-known and often cited how consumers are more likely to trust friends, family, and peers over businesses. In fact, 92% of consumers say they trust recommendations from friends and family above all other forms of advertising.
Influencer marketing has been a hot topic, in large part for these reasons. Many businesses leverage notable and popular individuals to help tell their story for them, hoping it will bridge the gap between brand and consumer and blur the line of blatant promotion. However, several recent case studies have greatly called into question the efficacy of these tactics.
What I wish to convey is that you and your staff have the power to become your practice’s own greatest influencer and biggest brand advocate!
Differentiate Yourself from the Competition
In 2019 and beyond, consumers crave authenticity from brands more than ever. This particularly applies to young Millennials and Gen Z’ers — people who have grown up in tandem with social media and digital channels. They can see right through typical mundane marketing tactics. They know when a brand is being genuine. It’s instinctual.
The other major concept relates to our ever-shrinking attention spans and growing expectations of brands and businesses. We are overwhelmed with information and choices. With just about any product or service you can think of, the options available to consumers are virtually limitless. Brands that place high value on the user experience and successfully convey a feeling of trust and authenticity will cut through the noise and make a lasting impression.
When it comes to highly localized marketing of professional services, these concepts are so important. The more you can highlight your personality and put a face to the name, so to speak, the more likely you are to make real connections with your audience and cause them to trust you over your competitors.
Build a Strong Brand and Tell Your Story
Oftentimes, professional practices don’t put much thought or effort towards creating a strong and cohesive brand identity. Nor do they focus on aligning their online presence and all of their marketing efforts with it. But regardless of the size of your practice, building a strong and instantly recognizable brand is so important.
Less time and attention and a plethora of choices means that it requires more brand-consumer “touchpoints” than ever. And, depending on what service we are talking about, there can be a long buying cycle. It can take weeks or even months of gathering information and weighing options before someone is ready to make a purchasing decision. This is often the case in the cosmetic dentistry and plastic surgery realms.
It is critical that you not only work towards maximizing the number of touchpoints with your prospective customer base, but also ensuring that each of those interactions is positive and memorable.
There is a certain way to conduct your activity on social media that is “promotional” without being promotional, if you catch my drift. This is to say, you are still conveying who you and your team are, what you and your practice stand for, how you fit in with and give back to the local community. You are telling your story, showing why you are worthy of users’ time and attention, but not simply blaring out a generic self-promotional message. You’re not selling. You’re not telling people why you’re worthy, you’re showing them.
Furthermore, social media platforms have in large part become customer service and support channels. Part of being your own biggest advocate is to be highly engaged and responsive on your pages and profiles, and always ready to help people and answer their questions. People will remember their interactions with you, and it’s always harder to reverse the impacts of a negative experience than it is to create an initial positive one.
Get Your Employees Engaged and Involved
We’ve established how people are more likely to trust recommendations from friends and family. We also know that reviews and referrals are crucial for success. What better source for both of these than your own staff?
Indeed, your employees are your greatest brand ambassadors. Creating a fun and positive work environment and practice culture, and then empowering and even incentivizing your own staff to get involved on your social media channels is a recipe for success.
Share photos and videos of your team, who they are, what interests them, and what they are passionate about in their respective fields. Their friends and family will see that content on your channels, and they in turn will engage with and share it; now you’ve amplified your message exponentially.
What you end up creating is a magnetic, personable brand identity that helps to immediately forge genuine connections with your audience. In some capacity, try to imagine your social media channel as the show, and you and your staff as the stars.
What we have seen with our clients that do this very well, often with the help and guidance of our Social Media team, is that they develop a positive feedback loop that increases the reach of their social profiles and content, grows their following, and even makes their paid promotions more effective and cost-efficient. It truly embodies the “if you build it, they will come” concept.
Think More of Your Long-Term Goals
Much of what I am discussing pertains to your organic social media marketing strategy. These efforts are not aimed at generating leads and new business immediately, but rather at driving brand loyalty and recall, fostering engagement with your social audience, and building a community around your brand. These efforts lead to increased ROI and better client retention in the long run.
There are, of course, paid social media marketing strategies geared more towards short-term business goals, and there is no reason why you shouldn’t employ some of them at the same time as you are building up your brand. However, focusing more on the organic side will only serve to make your paid promotions more effective, and will decrease the amount you need to spend on advertising.
Ultimately, the greatest determining factor of your practice’s long-term success is the quality of services you provide, and the resulting level of satisfaction of your patients or clients. If you are a champion in your respective niche, but find it difficult to reach new people or grow your practice, the aforementioned concepts could be the answer. When you make the effort to form a cohesive, magnetic brand identity on social media channels, you will see your practice grow in ways you previously thought impossible!