What do online retail sales have to do with professional services?
Black Friday and Cyber Monday retail sales are a U.S. invention and have only become a “thing” in Australia in recent years. Traditionally, we’ve focused on EOFY and Boxing Day as our biggest retail bonanzas. However, as my inbox started to flood with Black Friday and Cyber Monday promos, I started to take note that they weren’t just coming from the U.S. but from across the world!
I watched the Shopify website provide a live feed of all the sales being made by their member retailers. As I watched, the average of total global sales was 2,000 transactions a minute, hovering at around $170,000 – $200,000 a minute.
It no longer matters where Black Friday or Cyber Monday originated from and you certainly don’t need to be American to partake. Now, thanks to online shopping and international courier services, anyone from every corner of the world can make a Black Friday purchase.
This year’s online sales increased by 17.9% compared to 2016, resulting in an impressive $7.9 billion online sales spanning the Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales period.
You might be wondering what all this means for your professional services firm. The globalisation of retail has far-reaching influences well beyond the traditional retail environment. It’s training consumers to do their personal shopping online, which invariably trickles over into business purchases and professional services.
While you’re not in retail sales, Black Friday frenzy and the Cyber Monday madness that now has a global appeal has proven that all organisations across all industries need to have a strong online presence.
Just as retail customers are researching the web for their next purchase, so are your potential clients. In this digital age, a lack of online presence can cause people to question the credibility of your firm. They’ll search the web looking for client testimonials and more information that allows them to develop a clearer picture of your services and if you’re the right fit for them.
Just as you would go online to research a product and differentiate it from other prospects before you make a decision, potential clients are doing the same. But instead of choosing between products, they’re weighing how your services fare in comparison to your competitors.
And ultimately, they will choose the one that has provided them with all the answers to the questions they have. And because today’s consumers have become accustomed to mobile-intensive practices, they will prefer the firm that is more attentive and accessible within the digital realm.
It would be wise to invest on a website that is comprehensive and provides your potential clients with all the information they need. And you should have someone dedicated to keeping your social media accounts active. There was a time when clients would simply pick up the phone and ring firms to get more information. Today’s clients will simply move on to the next result on their web search when they don’t find what they are looking for at first glance.
The bottom line is that we need to evolve as clients do. Clients want to be fed real-time updates and fresh information. They’ll be monitoring your social media accounts to ensure that your firm is still active and consistent. Without constant activity on these social platforms, clients will become skeptical of your practices and if you’re still an authority in your industry.
Your personal interactions still matter and they are what will keep clients loyal to you. However, if you want to attract new prospects, source talent, and referrals, a strong online presence is no longer a luxury but a necessity if you want to stay relevant and competitive.