Marketing rules and tactics for providers of professional services (such as accountants, attorneys, physicians, and dentists) are often different from those for product and service marketers.
Because reputation is everything for professionals, their most effective marketing programs use a dignified tone—and a modest frequency. Moreover, the audience for providers of professional services tends to be averse to gimmicky messages.
Content is foremost
No matter how rapidly the marketing world changes—how quickly our tactics and tools evolve—some things remain the same: Quality content that educates and otherwise has an impact is certainly not outmoded.
Nowhere is that truer than in the marketing of professional services—and it is a key driver of the ongoing relevance and effectiveness of newsletter marketing.
Blogs, emails, and newsletters are everywhere, but they are not all created equal. The good ones inform clients or patients and build brands for the professionals who distribute them.
Here are seven ways and reasons newsletters―when executed properly―work exceptionally well for services professionals, even today.
1. Loyalty reigns supreme
Client or patient acquisition is front and center for many marketers. It's what keeps us up at night and consumes our thoughts during the day. But as important as an acquisition is, it's not more important than loyalty. Every serious brand or professional service provider needs at least one initiative to build client loyalty.
With newsletters, the primary subscription base consists of past and present clients or patients. Newsletters help build relationships, and it's those relationships that keep clients or patients coming back.
The reality is that good relationships are the basis for building referrals. Newsletters reinforce loyalty—as long as they regularly offer valuable and useful content.
2. Build essential credibility
The panacea is to be perceived as an authority. Newsletters provide solid content that demonstrates your expertise and serves clients by providing easy-to-digest useful material that readers consider valuable.
When you communicate valuable information to your audience, it considers you an expert. A law firm's newsletter, for example, may contain articles about a recent tax case or new administrative rules regarding overtime pay. Even if a reader doesn't have an immediate need for this particular information, the firm is planting a seed for the future.
Issue after issue, newsletters portray you as the area's pre-eminent attorney—or accountant, financial planner, physician, dentist, physical therapist, and so on.
Most professional services leaders avoid loudly and overtly declaring that they're the best. With a newsletter, you don't have to; you'll demonstrate your leadership by sharing tips, stories, or articles your audience values.
Credibility doesn't matter as much if you're selling a commodity. But if you deliver a professional service for which expertise is critical, being viewed as an authority makes all the difference.
3. Educate your audience
The most successful marketing newsletters educate, setting you apart from those simply looking to make a quick sale. When a marketer prints a brochure or runs an ad—even with pure, honest, accurate facts—audiences are often suspicious. Education-focused newsletters, however...
- Still have an impact on buying decisions
- Can still include reminders and other practical information
- Enable you to nurture a prospect by building a relationship over time (if your newsletter program is consistent)
4. Newsletters show reliability
When you send a quality newsletter regularly, readers grow to expect it. Many marketers tout a high degree of frequency, particularly with email communications; especially for transaction-oriented communications, more is often seen as better. But with educational newsletters, less is more. In our experience, a monthly newsletter is generally optimal. Readers are left wanting more, rather than feeling that you are overwhelming their in-boxes.
Your audience has many choices and receives many marketing messages. Staying top-of-mind on a regular basis will bring in new clients or patients―and add to the loyalty of your existing ones.
5. Keep the content flowing
Content and distribution channels together are critical to successful content marketing. Newsletters are not a once-and-done proposition. Articles can be repurposed in blog posts, shared on social media, and posted on your website. Go old-school and keep paper copies in your waiting area, too.
Like all good content marketing, newsletters can boost your online visibility because timely newsletter issues address readers' seasonal and cyclical concerns, and that type of content is perfect for social media sharing.
Newsletters keep you engaged with your audience, and by doing so help you generate fresh ideas for new content.
6. The risk is small, the reward isn't
The logistics of newsletter distribution―print or email―are simple. Creating a newsletter is extremely cost-effective compared with other types of marketing. Even with an outsourced program that provides everything from content development to distribution, newsletters are a low-cost, high-impact way to communicate professional expertise.
7. Achieve pass-along value
Digital newsletters, in particular, are easy to share with friends and colleagues. And print newsletters have a long shelf life; they are often passed around to friends, acquaintances, and colleagues.
* * *
Newsletter marketing can be an easy, low-cost, and high-impact endeavor. But there is a catch, especially for professional services firms: Your newsletters have to be of high quality. And more goes into newsletter development than meets the eye. Combine that with the criticality of presenting your brand in the best possible light, and it's clear why many professionals choose to outsource newsletters. (Get the Complete Guide to Newsletter Marketing for Your Professional Practice (email required).)
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