Some things are simply better together: peanut butter and chocolate, popcorn and movies, Carrie and Mr. Big, marketing and technology. You’re probably thinking, “Hold up, did she say just say marketing and technology!?” That’s right, everyone. Marketing and technology are not only better together, but I would venture to say they are essential to one another. You may not think of the marketing department as the most technologically savvy group within your professional services company, but I’m about to tell you why it should be.
The field of marketing is changing at the speed of light.
Within the past 10 years the field of marketing has changed dramatically. It used to be that professional services firms’ marketing tactics were made up of attending a few solid trade shows, meeting with referral sources, creating brochures and sending out direct mail pieces. Websites served more like a set of online service sheets about your company and were not very interactive. But now, customers have a whole new set of expectations about how they consume information and make purchasing decisions (especially online), even with regard to B2B services. This shift is largely due to the change in technology that has become available.
Just think, Twitter launched in 2006 and LinkedIn was founded in 2002. For some of us, that doesn’t seem so long ago! Email marketing has become a mainstay for many firms to communicate with clients and prospects. “Blog” became the number one word of the year in 2004, according to Merriam Webster. And over the past several years, the concept of blogging for business and publishing online content has absolutely exploded.
I don’t think we would have said this 10 years ago, but a professional services firm’s website should 100% be the hub of all of their marketing efforts. Everything a company does (whether online or in person) should be driving prospects and clients back to that hub. This is where people expect to learn about your company and services and where they will make a purchasing decision if they have not already.
All of this is due to the advances that we have seen in technology. Marketing teams and departments have been forced to keep up, and overall I would say the advances have only made the marketing process faster, more efficient, and more effective.
Tools and constant research are the keys to success.
The question is, “How do we keep up?!” Even as a full-time marketer, it can be exhausting trying to keep up with the constantly evolving technologies and tools. But considering the major shifts mentioned above and their significance for marketing success, we don’t want to be left behind either.
The speed at which technology is changing is forcing all marketers to be more “on their toes” than ever. So what’s the best approach for staying in the know?
- Read. Read. And read some more. Be sure to always be reading. Read anything you can get your hands on that will teach you about marketing and technology: books, blogs, articles, news, podcasts, you name it. This will help you stay up to date on the latest tools and technology available in marketing. Be sure to evaluate each one from the standpoint of how they can help your company and your clients.
- Dip your toe in. Not sure if the latest marketing tool or social media site is right for your company? Give it a test run! What’s the worst that can happen? Don’t be afraid to experiment as this is how you will learn the most. In his book Born to Blog, Mark Schaefer, puts it best when he shares that, “Social media is not something that can be taught, it has to be experienced.” Enough said.
- Ask the Experts. Reading thought leadership as described above will help you to get a general feel for the changes that are coming to marketing and what you need to know. Even better, it will help you to know the right questions to ask of your company and your service providers. Don’t be afraid to reach out to professionals, especially in very technical areas like website development and search engine optimization. They can help you make sense of the changing technology and develop a strategy for your company. If you have done your reading, you will know the right questions to ask and what to look for.
While we can’t stop technology from advancing, we can do our best to prepare for what’s to come. Based on what the past decade has shown us, we know that change will come to the field of marketing. Will your firm be ready to seize the opportunities?
For some of our favorite online tools, tips and technologies, take a look at the following webinar recordings: