Is it Time to Shake Up the Way You Market Your Consulting Firm or Practice?
I’ve been thinking about your consulting firm.
It’s probably small (less than 25 people), provides a niche service or serves a niche market, and was built upon the industry or technical expertise of its founders. It may be a standalone business or a niche practice tucked inside of a larger organization like a CPA firm.
Your business development consists of lots and lots of 1:1 networking activities, and your website is an more of an online brochure than a business development tool. You’re overworked and stressed because of the difficulty of balancing the need to market your consulting services with the need to the deliver those services and achieve results. You have a small budget for marketing, so you need to squeeze every dollar you invest until the eagle screams.
You might be a hunter/killer type of marketer, where you do marketing in cycles, hunting only when it’s time to feed, and otherwise, doing what you need to do to rack up billable hours.
So here’s the question du jour: what’s the best way to invest your limited time and resources to grow your practice? Doing more of the same? Putting money into advertising? Hiring a telemarketing firm? Are you happy with the outcomes of your marketing efforts?
You have lots of choices, but I believe that the answer lies in a combination of 1:1 networking (referrals, schmoozing, etc.) and a powerful new marketing approach called inbound marketing.
A (Really ) Quick Overview of Inbound Marketing for Consulting Services
Inbound Marketing is based upon moving your firm away from pushing messages out to your target market using traditional means like advertising and snail mail direct marketing, to pulling suspects and prospects into a relationship using websites, social media and content marketing Inbound marketing has 4 components and relies on the principle that visitors will find and come to you if you have the right mix of online presence, thought leadership, infrastructure and marketing technology like HubSpot.
- Getting found first by prospects doing online searches
- Converting website visitors into leads
- Nurturing leads until sales ready
- Continuous monitoring and measurement to improve results
Why Inbound Marketing is Perfect for Consulting Firms
Inbound marketing is a natural fit for marketing consulting services for 10 key reasons:
Reason 1: First, and to me the most important reason why inbound marketing is a natural fit for marketing consulting services is that it’s an approach built around using thought leadership as the primary driver of new business opportunities. Isn’t thought leadership the centerpiece of what differentiates your consulting practice from all others? Inbound marketing employs and deploys content like blogs and optimized web pages to showcase your thought leadership. By creating content specifically designed to appeal to your target market, inbound marketing will attract qualified prospects to your firm and keep them coming back for more.
Reason 2: Inbound marketing is perfect for sales of consulting services that involve a long sales cycle because it uses tools like email marketing and lead nurturing tailored to the needs and lifecycle stage of each lead. This process involves creating relevant interactions as prospects move through the sales funnel.
Reason 3: For budget constrained consulting firms, inbound marketing is significantly less expensive than traditional advertising
Reason 4: Inbound marketing results in a lower cost per lead than traditional marketing
Reason 5: For resource constrained consulting firms, because the firm’s website becomes the centerpiece of the firm’s marketing efforts, inbound marketing works 24/7,365 days per year
Reason 6: In bound marketing is a structured, common sense way to ride the wave of digital marketing that’s transforming how consulting firms must market their services
Reason 7: Inbound marketing will transform your website from an online brochure into a lead generation dynamo
Reason 8: Inbound marketing is perfect for consulting firms because it’s a platform for weaving all of the current and future media tools of digital marketing (blogging, social media, YouTube, etc.) into a powerful integrated approach focused on lead generation and new clients
Reason 9: Inbound marketing will require you to focus on measurements and analytics to continually refine your consulting firm’s marketing strategies and tactics for increasing the ROI out of your marketing investment
Reason 10: Because of its focus on content, inbound marketing is the perfect way for the reluctant rainmakers in your firm to step up to the new business plate by leveraging their subject matter expertise into materials that can be used for lead generation.
A Word of Prudence
Inbound marketing sounds great, right?
Inbound marketing works, but you must work at it. This is not a “set it and forget it” strategy … it’s more a lifestyle change that your firm needs to make in order to competitive in an era where digital marketing rules the new business development roost.
If you are satisfied with your firm’s growth and top line, then continue what you’re doing. If you’re not satisfied, then get an inbound marketing assessment done by a qualified and credentialed inbound marketer who will discuss – with brutal honesty – the pros, cons, costs and impacts of implementing a digital marketing strategy.