How Mid-Size Service Firms Can Take Advantage Of Digital Disruption

There are thousands of successful mid-size service firms today with 15-150 staff, several million dollars in revenue and more than five years in business. Many service firms are in industries experiencing disruptive change.

At the same time, the corporate legal landscape is shifting as General Counsel now demand alternative fee arrangements and more value for the dollar, artificial intelligence (AI) and block-chain threaten to take work away from CPAs and technology consulting firms struggle to stay ahead of digital transformation trends so they can provide real value to clients. 

Digital disruption is impacting most service industries, but every challenge brings opportunity — if you can spot it. I believe digital marketing is the hidden opportunity within digital disruption. My background as a marketing consultant has allowed me to see how several firms are turning the lemons of digital disruption into lemonade.  

Digital marketing can empower the growth of mid-size service firms like never before, but to realize the full potential of this opportunity, you’ll probably have to change the way you go to market. Let me explain.

The Trusted Advisor Line Has Shifted

In the past, a service provider became a trusted advisor after a deal was signed. To grow a mid-size professional service firm today, you should become a trusted advisor before someone becomes your client. This is made possible by digital marketing. 

Over the last decade, the trusted advisor line has shifted from the back-end to the front-end of the client relationship. Here is how this worked in the past:

• A prospective client is referred to a service provider.

• The service provider delivers a free consultation and tells the prospect about their services
and how they will benefit the prospect — their value proposition.

• The prospect considers the value proposition and if it’s compelling, agrees to become a client.

• The prospect signs a deal.

• The service provider begins to provide great advice, soon becoming a trusted advisor and helps the client achieve their goals.

Digital Transformation Consultation

You’ll notice that in the steps I described above, the service provider became a trusted advisor at the very end of the process after the prospect signed the deal. There was no way for the prospect to try before they buy.

How You Can Leverage Digital Disruption

This is what digital marketing has fundamentally changed. Mid-size service firms who go to market in the best way possible today, leveraging digital disruption, should take a different approach, one where the service provider should: 

• Build a profile of the type of clients they want to serve.

• Ask themselves — what are the top goals, opportunities and challenges of ideal clients, and what is our best advice about how to achieve these goals?

• Put this great advice into content marketing pieces like blog-posts, webinars, whitepapers and reports.

• Share these insights through digital channels like their website, email, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, ebooks and reports.

From there, prospective ideal clients should be able to access these materials and consider the advice. They’ll likely request a meeting, already convinced that the service provider is an expert in achieving goals that matter to them. The service provider should then deliver a consultative experience by asking the prospect great questions, not making a pitch for their firm. Once the provider understands the prospect’s goals, they can create a formal contract and continue to provide great advice and expedite the client toward its goals.

In this model, the service provider becomes a trusted advisor from the very start. As the prospect encounters the service provider, the focus is on the prospect’s goals, not the service provider’s company, team, services or capabilities. The service provider proves they’re an expert by delivering advice that the prospect cannot resist. If your firm adopts this model, you may never have to pitch your firm again, and your top people will spend more of their time with real prospects.  Adopting this model may also improve your firm’s reputation and help you to grow clients, revenues and profits.  

What You Should Consider

If you want to make digital disruption work for you, not against you, you should consider the approach I’ve described above. You may also want a host of digital tools that you may not have in place today. I call this the ultimate digital marketing stack.   

Leverage the process and the tools in the best way possible and your firm will likely grow. This is the opportunity that digital disruption is creating today. 

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This article is republished with permission and originally appeared on Forbes

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