By Bonnie Buol Ruszczyk
Published in AccountingToday on October 11, 2012 (with slight revisions)
by Bonnie Buol Ruszczyk, president
We spend our days (and some nights and weekends) helping our professional services clients communicate what they do, who they serve and most importantly, how they are different. We do this through their websites, collateral materials, blog posts, articles, presentations and a wide variety of other media. We are frequently heard saying things like, “Remember, people get their information in different ways,” “Just because you don’t read blogs doesn’t mean your audience doesn’t,” and “In most cases, people prefer to work with people they like.”
What’s my point? When we boil it all down, what we do is tell stories for our clients, and an article published on Inc., entitled “Your Story is Your Marketing Strategy,” backs us up. I’m not saying that you replace descriptions of your services and the clients you serve with flowery fables. What I am saying is that a well-written story can inform and even entertain your clients and prospects, further defining your differentiators and selling your firm over others. How do you do this while still communicating the professional image you want to portray?
Case Studies: Seeing your clients describe the wondrous things you and your firm do is much more powerful than seeing you saying it yourself. Case studies accomplish this well in a way readers can relate to, and they don’t have to be long or overly detailed either. Simply tell the story of where your client was before working with you, how you went about improving the situation and the end result. Include a quote from that client about your relationship to add more punch and validity. By describing the process, you allow the reader to step into the shoes of a happy client rather than reading a dry list of services you provide. It lets prospective clients picture themselves reaping similar rewards, and a good case study can easily spur your audience to action.
Partner and Staff Bios: Of course we all need to know about your work experience, professional organizations and educational background. But we would also like to know that you are a human being outside of the office. What are your hobbies? Where do you volunteer? Why did you choose your profession in the first place? What fun fact do few people know about you? It is these types of details that make people want to work with you. All things being equal, people will reach out to those they feel have something in common with them, a point of connection. So share your personality, be a bit self-deprecating and even add a touch of humor. You’ll be surprised the response you get. (And remember, outside of your home page, bio pages are typically the most read pages on any professional services firm’s website. People really are paying attention.)
Blog posts: I realize not everyone sees the value in adding a blog to their website, and until you do it’s best not to take this step. But I can tell you from experience, those with blogs create a new level of connection with their clients and prospects that just can’t be gained in other ways. Blog posts are a great way for you to share valuable, pertinent information in a short, even light-hearted way. They’re also a great place to tell stories that demonstrate your firm’s personality. Is there a new law that will affect your clients? Be the first one to write about it on your blog, and illustrate its effect with examples. Did your firm recently build a Habitat for Humanity house? Tell your visitors about it in a post that includes some pictures and your personal perspective.
We do this ourselves. While most of our blog posts are informative and give our readers tips on how to market their firms, the ones that are more fun and even silly seem to get the most response. Case in point: when we wrote a post about our office dog, we had people coming out of the woodwork to tell us how much they loved the idea and us for sharing it. (We also got a lot of “your dog is adorable,” which he is.) So while you may be reluctant to be too casual on the main pages of your site, consider showing your lighter side by adding a blog.
There are many other ways to incorporate storytelling into your marketing message, so start looking for ways to do it. If you need help, look for marketing professionals to help. I promise you, you’ll see results.