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Joanna Goddard, commercial growth strategist, is a highly respected business consultant based in the UK

Are you missing a trick? 3 frequently missed aspects of digital strategy in professional services

I work with businesses and individuals to establish or develop their niche and identify smart, time and cost effective routes to market to increase revenue. It’s the kind of objective and practical support that I enjoy giving and more importantly it really gets results. A robust and creative digital marketing strategy is often a central part of my client collaboration. And what I’m finding very interesting is that more often than not, it isn’t what’s included in that existing strategy, it’s what’s left out. Let me explain.

These are the main three factors that time and time again I find missing from corporate or individual approaches to online and social strategies:

  1. Admin staff involvement – Most firms that I work with have identified and / or trained marketing, fee earning and or sales personnel with social media skills. Great. I’d always advocate this. But don’t just allocate someone and leave them to it. Are you sure fee earners or sales personnel have the time to do this properly? Maybe it’s not the best use of their valuable (and profit-related) time. My solution? Take a look at an often undervalued element in an organisation. Your admin staff. These guys can be incredibly proactive and motivated when clearly directed and trained. Focus on LinkedIn and Twitter, sometimes Google, Facebook and Pinterest amongst other platforms depending on your business. But you may well find that results vary if the training is lacking. In which case you’re simply paying lip service to social media as a powerful channel, instead of harnessing its potential. However when a digital strategy is clearly focused on Business Development and carefully aligned, with designated personnel taking ownership for distinct aspects of it (for example, regularly posting on Twitter, mindful of appropriate subject matter and style) then increased performance is achieved.

So in summary, one important aspect that really boosts performance is the involvement of administrative staff in your strategy. Digital is not just about sending out information – information gathering can also be one of the most effective methods of business development. Digital listening if you like. So I always address this quickly and ensure that administrative staff are trained, established with ghost accounts if required, and encouraged to sign up to various competitor and client email alerts, and to follow peers, clients and competitors on social media.

This enables administrative staff to research, filter and compile important news and information that management, fee earners and / or sales personnel ought to be aware of but maybe just don’t have the time to monitor. From client announcements about awards, to new products or services, this enables your team to stay ahead on industry intel and is an easily achievable way to help develop strong client and contact relationships through, for example, timely congratulations, supportive sharing of posts and so on.

  1. Fee earners or sales personnel providing marketing teams with client intelligence – Point number one only works effectively if the intel gathered by your admin staff then gets correctly and usefully filtered to your marketing and PR personnel. And if course, if they are regularly briefed about who or what to follow and engage with. Regular communication through structured processes such as fixed meetings or bulletins should keep support teams informed. Smart use of social media list management can hep keep on top of this and enable easy organising of information across various client groups. Always ensure that ‘background notes’ include whether you can or cannot directly name or refer to your client on a public forum. Discretion can sometimes be a deal breaker!
  1. Social media teams informing PR teams with digital intel – Successful companies establish a well-balanced mix of marketing, digital, advertising and PR support for optimum success. Not all PR professionals are active or engaged to support your digital platforms. Ensuring that your social media operators, whether in house or outsourced, know your PR personnel and again have structured communication processes in place, will ensure that your PR are kept informed. A constant flow of communication is critical so the right people know the right information and relay it in a results-effective way. It’s not difficult to implement, you just need to get everyone in the right, digitally-agile mindset. It’s easier that it sounds, trust me.

What hot topics are emerging? What’s the immediate response to emerging news stories? What and how are competitors reacting? By taking advice from PR professionals, keeping your social media operators highly focused in the right way, on the right topics in the right tone, and ensuring that your PR are focused on the same across the wider picture – you’ll succeed in creating a joined up and highly focused chain of information that will keep you and your business a step ahead and always on the same page as your key customers.

If you enjoyed this blog, a previous blog on measuring Business Developmental might also be of interest. You can find it here.

If you would like to learn more, please do get in touch. If you found this post helpful, maybe others will too; it’s good to share!