If you are exploring new ways to take your professional service firm’s brand awareness, customer acquisition, or business development efforts to the next level, advertising is an essential and unavoidable piece of the marketing puzzle. That said, advertising is complex, with many options and factors at play that affect whether or not it’s a successful effort. In this post, we are going to take a look at best practices in professional services advertising today.
Defining your goals and budget
No matter what, it’s always best to begin with a clear sense of what you are hoping to accomplish. Your goals should be specific and measurable, because your advertising plan will be built around them. Here are some typical professional services business goals that advertising can support:
As for setting your budget, there are different ways to determine what to invest in your advertisements for the year. The most common way to determine your budget is to use 2% to 5% of your annual revenue from the previous year. This gives you a set amount without making too much of a dent in your profits. Other companies will try to match their competition’s advertising budget or the industry standard.
Build your advertising strategy around an ideal client profile
We recommend starting any advertising endeavor with a clear sense of who you are talking to and what their challenges are (that you are proposing you can solve). This will enable you to position your ad’s argument in the most compelling way possible. The best way to find this information is by developing an ideal client profile (learn how to build one here). Conducting an ideal client profile exercise can also help you determine where your target audience is most likely to encounter a message like yours, which can save you advertising dollars in the long-run by helping you stick to efficient, tightly run campaigns.
Identify what you are going to promote
Advertising can serve many purposes, as listed in the first set of bullet points above. You want to make sure you hone in on a particular message that is memorable, authentic, and consistent with your brand. If you are looking to just get the word out about what you do, be sure to first go through some exercises to clearly identify your differentiation factor, otherwise known as your competitive advantage, so you can be sure you are delivering a strong and truly noteworthy message.
Best practices for a clear message include one or more of the following:
Now we’ll get into the details. Advertising takes place digitally, in print, in video (displayed either digitally or on TV), or on the radio. Here are some best practices to keep in mind for each placement type.
Best practices for print
Traditional print ads are a good option for professional services that are looking to expand their brand awareness and reputation within their community, in an effort to become a top-of-mind business for their industry.
Best practices for digital advertising
Digital advertising is best for professional services that are looking to reach new clients, track and learn about who’s seeing their advertisements, and build a larger presence.
Today, 53% of consumers search for local businesses at least once a month instead of asking friends or family (Local Consumer Review Survey). With advertising opportunities like Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Google AdWords, and paid advertisements on social media and other websites, you are able to gain insight into the specific demographics of those who interact with your ads.
Best practices for television
Creative: getting help with designing, writing, and implementing
No matter where you are displaying your ad campaign, it needs to look and sound awesome. The first rule for developing excellent creative is to make sure it is consistent. That doesn’t only mean consistent between the elements of the campaign, but consistent with the established visual identity of your brand, too. You want people who see one of your ads to recognize where it’s coming from, and link it in their minds to another encounter they had with your brand.
We recommend working with a professional designer, copywriter, or both, to bring your ads to life. The role of the creative is to capture, even if just for a moment, the audience’s attention and imagination, and create an impression. That is no easy task, and each platform requires a different approach. Overall, best practices for compelling professional service advertising creative include….
If you’re looking for a one-on-one conversation about taking the advertising strategy for your professional service brand to the next level, check out our free e-book on standing our from your competition through differentiation.