How to market and grow a professional services business

June 8, 2015

7 lessons I learned in my first four years of business (and a few extra tips)

How toLast week, Reputation Ink celebrated its fourth year in business. I founded the agency in June 2011 working out of my home with one large client (who we still work with), and in the last four years, we’ve grown to include over 20 clients (including many large, global corporations), six full-time employees, several freelance writers we have established relationships with, and a group of specialist agency partners we collaborate with for technical and creative support.

We have more growth ahead of us, but I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve accomplished so far. I thought I would mark our anniversary by sharing what I’ve learned about marketing and growing a professional services business over the past four years.

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Why your content is now your brand

May 5, 2015

Tagline - MichelleI’ll admit it. Before I started my own marketing firm, I worked in other advertising and PR firms and often hated what we produced: pithy, uppity ads that sounded super clever and trendy, like a bunch of skinny, uber-hipster millennials wearing tight jeans and thick-rimmed glasses came up with them while drinking their fifth nonfat soy green-tea lattes and smirking ironically. I think this actually happened. A lot.

To me the ads, brochures, taglines, marketing “collateral” and other “stuff” we produced seemed vapid and clever for the sake of being clever — like we were trying to impress ourselves and other marketing people. Plain language, simplicity and directness were dismissed for their lack of creativity and artistic flair.

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Why longer content works in today’s 140-character, soundbite, snackable, tweet-frenzied world

March 24, 2015

Long live long-form contentHow many times have you heard that no one reads anything longer than a 140-character tweet anymore? That our attention spans are shot due to digital information overload, multi-tasking and multi-channeling? That if you create anything longer than 200 words or 30 seconds no one will pay any attention to it? Soundbites! “Snackable” content! Tweets!

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. (Well, except for the attention-span thing.)

While technology has certainly changed the way we think and process information, people still desire substantial information. They just consume it differently. In fact, due to the overwhelming glut of content available on the Internet today, Internet users are becoming more discerning about the content they consume, searching and scanning for content that’s worth their attention and time, and engaging more heavily with valuable, lengthy content. And in the online world — where everyone can be a publisher — the way to distinguish yourself is by producing an outstanding piece of substantial content that stands out from the rest.

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Marketing automation is not a strategy (and it’s useless without content)

January 26, 2015


Do NOT buy that marketing automation software (just yet). Before you pull the trigger, please read this blog post first.

Marketing automation is an incredibly valuable tool that is transforming the marketing industry. In the space of one year, the number of marketing technology companies has nearly doubled, rising to nearly 2,000 in 2015 according to Marketing Land.

However, it still faces an embarrassingly high failure rate of 60 percent. According to the Sales Benchmark Index, three out of five marketing automation installations fail, meaning they are under-utilized, not used at all, or eventually canceled.

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Want employees to learn and grow? Let them blog

January 9, 2015

How content marketing can fuel employee learning and development

Intellectual growth should commence atI have always been an insatiable learner. I was a big reader as a child and now as a professional, it’s almost overwhelming the amount of books, blogs and articles that I want to read. But as I’ve gotten busier, like most people, reading has fallen by the wayside, with books piled up on my nightstand that I never quite get to.

However, I continue to learn and stay at the cutting edge of my industry. How? Content marketing. My agency is committed to writing and speaking about marketing and public relations topics, and thus I continually read and conduct research to ensure my blog posts and presentations are accurate, comprehensive and up to date.

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Yes, it’s that New Year’s post: one look back, two steps ahead

January 5, 2015

Superhero_20152014 was a big year for Reputation Ink. As many of us do at this time of year, over the holidays I reflected on the year. As I thought about how busy it had been, I started to think about everything we achieved and somewhat startled myself when I developed a list. Here are some of the highlights:

Out with the old, in with the Ink

We started the year as Reputation Capital. In March, we rebranded to Reputation Ink and haven’t looked back. While I loved the name that we originally launched with back in 2011 (and as any company founder knows, it can be hard to let go of some things), I now love the name Reputation Ink even more. It perfectly reflects our commitment and passion for quality writing and how we use great writing to build our clients’ reputations.

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Converting website visitors into customers—the content marketing conversion process explained

December 12, 2014


With any marketing, the end goal is to make money, right? If you talk to some marketers, you’d think their primary goal is “brand consistency” or “generating awareness” or “increasing website traffic.” But in the end, these aren’t the real reasons we as marketers get up in the morning and do our jobs. We are here to help our companies make money. Otherwise, our jobs wouldn’t exist. Thus it’s imperative that our content marketing efforts convert website visitors into leads, and eventually, into customers. But how does that happen?

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The content shock is coming: what to do about it

November 13, 2014

content shockAt the beginning of this year, noted marketing thought leader Mark Schaefer of {grow} wrote a now somewhat infamous blog post titled Content Shock: Why content marketing is not a sustainable strategy. If you haven’t read it, I’d recommend taking a moment to do so. His basic theory is that we are nearing the intersection of increasing volumes of content with our limited human capacity to consume it.

In other words, as companies jump on the content marketing bandwagon in droves, pumping out blogs, e-books, reports, videos and more, it’s becoming harder and harder to get people’s attention and succeed with the strategy. Just a few years ago, if you put a blog up and plugged away at it, you were a first mover and were pretty much guaranteed to have some success and earn attention from the audiences you were trying to reach. Today it’s much harder.

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Law firm marketing: are ads and ‘paid profiles’ in legal directories worth it?

October 6, 2014

As legal marketers, we are regularly asked by our law firm clients about rankings, directories, awards and the like (for the legal marketers out there reading: shocking, I know). Rankings like Super Lawyers, Best Lawyers, Chambers and Partners, Martindale-Hubbell and more have proliferated to the point that entire jobs exist at law firms for the sole purpose of managing the lengthy and detailed submission processes. In fact, I believe the number now hovers around 1,000—that’s right, 1,000—surveys and rankings out there of law firms and attorneys, all competing for attention and advertising dollars.

We ourselves just spent the last month working on detailed Chambers submissions for several clients, and regularly write award submissions for media outlets like Law360, the National Law Journal and American Lawyer. While I see value in awards, especially those with advertising-independent research processes and those done by credible media outlets, I see no value in buying advertising (including display ads and “enhanced profiles”) in any legal directories out there. Here’s why:

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Marketers and sales execs: stop annoying, start nurturing

October 2, 2014

How to convert marketing leads to customers through lead nurturing


Ever browse through a store, and a sales rep just won’t leave you alone, despite telling her that you’re “just looking”? What about getting a phone call from a sales rep just a few minutes after filling out a form on a website to download a white paper or e-book, when you’re just doing some preliminary research?

Why’s that so annoying? You’re not ready to buy—you’re just assessing your options. In marketing speak, you’re still in the “awareness” stage of the “buying funnel.” Called many things, including “purchase funnel,” “marketing funnel,” “decision journey” and more, the buying funnel is a way to describe the steps a buyer goes through as they realize they have a problem or need, educate themselves, research, compare and analyze their options, and eventually make a decision on a provider.

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About the Author
Michelle Calcote King

Michelle Calcote King is an award-winning marketer with nearly 20 years of expertise in all things marketing, content, media and public relations. Specializing in highly complex industries, she leverages superior writing skills, media savvy and a love of all things digital to move her clients’ businesses forward.

Read my full bio or connect with me on LinkedIn.

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