How to Use Content With Paid Campaigns to Drive Sales for Professional Service Providers
By Linda Orton
May 06, 2022 | 7-minute read
Technology Management Social Media and Engagement Analytics and SEO Communications Software and Platforms Content Type Article
Our attention spans continue to decline thanks to a never-ending flow of content via technology tools and platforms. However, most professionals we work with still produce dense and erudite content that is reflective of the sophisticated issues they address. Whether we are supporting lawyers, accountants or management consultants (as I’ve done the last six years), words matter. Not everything can be streamlined to a 280-character tweet or a short video on TikTok.
Rich, descriptive and well-written content still has a place to inform, challenge and entertain. But before you begin creating this content, you must determine who your audience is, how to deliver your insights to them and what success looks like. When used in concert with paid digital advertising, articles, blogs, videos, podcasts, landing pages and infographics can yield powerful, tangible, revenue generating results. I call this my “B2B Digital Triple Play™.”
The B2B Digital Triple Play™ combines three things that, when utilized together, generate higher amounts of engagements. They are:
- Creating short-form, client-relevant and timely content on a firm’s blog
- Training professionals how to maximize content to drive their presence on social platforms such as LinkedIn, and how to best engage with others to create real relationships offline
- Implementing targeted digital ads to drive people to engage with the content
In boxing terms, it is the ultimate jab, jab, right hook!
What follows are a few case studies illustrating this technique.
1. The Triple Play at Alvarez & Marsal
As the former chief marketing officer of Alvarez & Marsal (A&M), a New York-based, 6,000-person global management consulting firm, I worked with Disputes and Investigations to first show the proof of concept for using content with digital advertising. This was new to the firm back in 2016.
Scope of Campaign
The Financial Crimes group in Disputes was laser focused. Former military, the consultants came to the meeting with a mission and color-coded spreadsheets. They became my poster children for working as a team with marketing. They had a small budget and were happy to use a digital marketing approach, combined with showcasing their knowledge of the cybersecurity and cryptocurrency industries. Globally focused, they knew their audience.
The consultants knew the industries they wanted to target: gaming, crypto and cybersecurity. They wanted to focus on CFOs and COOs (not the whole C-suite, which is often the answer I’d get to the question, “Who do you want to reach?”). They also knew the geographies they wished to cover.
We agreed Financial Crimes would start creating relevant and consistent content on the Passle blog, which we were just starting to use. Passle is a blogging and amplification platform that enables busy professionals to become thought leaders quickly and easily. This tool helped them create and share their content to relevant readers and enhanced their use of LinkedIn for online networking. LinkedIn networking was then further supported by a digital advertisement, created in-house, using LinkedIn advertising tools.
Eric Bryant, senior manager of web and digital analytics at A&M, worked on this and other digital ad campaigns. For him, there were a few requirements when it came to creating effective ad copy. “Before we create copy, we first must understand who the audience is and what problem can we solve. Our job is to convey our clients’ (the consultants') unique selling proposition in a compelling way and ensure that the design and ad copy spoke to the target’s pain points,” he says. “A call to action is key to ensure conversions to the underlying content. The landing page and ad copy must align and give the audience assurance that we are subject matter experts who can solve their problems.”
The three-prong approach yielded over $15 million in revenue for the firm over two years. I was then able to use this client’s success as a written case study to teach and encourage other groups at the firm to use this digital triple play. The program helped bring in business and attract new talent across the firm.
2. LinkedIn Advertising at a Software as a Service Firm
In 2021, Passle, a software as a service (SaaS) firm and professional services marketing platform, created nearly 200 ads from their own content. Each episode of their “CMO Series” podcast, for example, was accompanied by a LinkedIn ad. “We use these to build recognition of our growing brand and to communicate best practices around thought leadership across the professional services marketing community,” Sam Page, director of marketing at Passle, says. Some ads, like this one, cost the firm less than $100 dollars to promote across LinkedIn for two months, and received more than 7,000 views from start to finish. The metrics can be traced back directly to Passle’s ad targeting strategy, Page says, noting the company drilled down to firms and job titles.
From there, Passle is given actionable insights. “We use the data from who interacts with advertisements (individual and firms) to inform our business development outreach, i.e. our sales team contacts firms that are interacting the most,” Page says. “It's an approach we use consistently year-round and have garnered great results. It shows us the people most likely to be interested in the challenges we solve.”
Whether we are supporting lawyers, accountants or management consultants, words matter.
3. Small Real Estate Firm Advertising on Google and Social Media
B2B and B2C law firms can learn from small businesses who market directly to consumers. Evan Newman, owner of Houses by Evan LLC, quickly built his real estate brand online last year by focusing on his love for rescue pets. To be competitive in a crowded market, he needed to be original and use his knowledge of technology and social media. With a small marketing budget, he focused on the demographics he was trying to reach (first time home buyers, seniors who are downsizing and new recruits for his real estate agency with Keller Williams).
Newman made a short and creative video with stock footage showing pets acting as humans, learning how Newman would pay for his clients’ pet adoption fees in addition to finding the family a new home. This video yielded over 1,000 views on Facebook when initially posted.
By analyzing his advertising analytics, Newman has learned what key search words and phrases drive prospects to his videos and landing pages on his website. He emphasized the importance of adjusting ads based on this information. He has used targeted advertising on both Google and social media platforms, such as Facebook, to reach his clients where they shop for everything — their mobile devices. As a result, more than 50% of his new business is now the result of low-cost online advertising.
4. Focusing on Niche Topics
Sloane Media is a strategic media planning/buying boutique firm that works with B2B and B2C clients to achieve their marketing objectives via digital and traditional media (radio, television, outdoor) platforms. Founder Steve Sloane uses paid digital advertising for clients to laser focus on topics that may be considered too niche to succeed organically.
“Paid content doesn't have to rely on search or discoverability like organic does. You don't have to deal with ever-changing SEO challenges to make an impact,” Sloane says. “We target audiences and use whichever paid channel works best for that client. Paid advertising also allows for testing content across a variety of different audiences, as well as A/B testing to the same audience.”
With the Financial Crimes ad we ran in the first case study above, we created an A/B ad with the same copy and two different images. After the first week, we shifted our remaining budget to the creative design that garnered more views.
Knowing where your clients are is key. Producing timely and engaging content is expected, but B2C attorneys may also benefit from focusing some dollars on Facebook and Instagram, where B2B firms are wiser to focus their ad dollars on LinkedIn and Twitter. TikTok is quickly evolving as one of the fastest growing platforms with a new business division and the Metaverse is the Wild West — keep watching. Be willing to be creative and have first mover advantage, especially if no other firms are doing your idea yet.