It’s 2012 … Do You Know Where Your Marketing Dollars Are Going?
I’ve been in the professional services marketing business long enough to remember heated discussions about whether or not the firm should be doing e-mail or investing money in doing a website.
”It’s all a passing fad and won’t amount to anything.”
“Crap. Just crap.”
“This is just nonsense and a time waster … it’s contacts that drive new business!!”
“What!! More investment in technology!! Why, that means that we’ll have to get rid of the telegraph we put in 45 years ago!”
Of course, those arguments and positions of the past have proved to be pure nonsense. Firms that were early adopters and users of the new approaches and technologies available to them grew because they took risks, made strategic investments in marketing and yet managed to stay true to high standards of taste, decorum and professionalism.
Today, it’s hard to believe that things like e-mail, websites, e-newsletters, and (gasp!) spending money on advertising, public relations and direct mail were controversial. Now, just when partners have wrapped their minds around spending money for marketing … BAMMM!!! … inbound marketing, content marketing, and social media is taking front and center stage in the world of accounting, consulting and professional services marketing.
So, today’s partners are faced with the same dilemma and in many firms, the same mindset and attitude that partners of yesteryear faced. Are you going to get involved in these new marketing approaches and technologies, or not? And if not, what are the risks that your firm will become marginalized, losing share and voice, as your competitors aggressively move to embrace the new models of marketing professional services?
As marketing technology advances and creates cutting trail pathways and tools, you can either be the partner who embraces the opportunities or someone who ignores it.
Inbound marketing is one of those new ways that accounting and consulting firms are marketing their products and services. The real pioneers are starting a transformation from outbound marketing (like mailers and newspaper ads) to inbound marketing (like blogging and lead generation tactics). Gone are the days of using your website just as an online brochure because today’s prospects are using the internet in new ways, and they have different expectations when it comes to the experience they want to have when they come to your site.
The concept of inbound marketing is all about getting found first, converting a visitor to a lead with great content delivered on your site, nurturing leads through a sales funnel to a point of engagement, and then analyzing what you did to see if it worked or isn’t worth doing again.
As this is the season of strategic planning and partner retreats, perhaps it’s time to do more in your marketing and business development discussions than talk about what each partner needs to being to the table in the way of new business dollars.
Here are six questions that I challenge you to bring to your partner discussions:
- Is the traffic to our website growing … or … when’s the last time we looked at the analytics of our website? If your site isn’t growing in terms of new visitors, then welcome to the world of marginalization. All of the networking, schmoozing, and meets and greets in the world aren’t going to do a thing to increase visitors – visitors who are looking for information or solutions to an accounting, tax, audit or business advisory problem.
- When’s the last time we updated our website? If your website hasn’t changed or been updated in the past year or two, it’s likely that you’ve fallen well behind the trail blazers in the industry who are using their sites to great advantage when it comes to content marketing and lead generation.
- How do prospects know what’s different about us? In a nutshell, if the thought leaders of your company aren’t contributing content for posting on your website in like blog articles, white papers, or checklists, then it’s likely that all you’re doing is blah-blah-blahing about yourself. By placing valuable information on your site to download, prospects will turn to you as the authority on a specific topic.
- How many leads did we get out of the traffic that came to the website? The trail blazers are taking their great content and thought leadership, tucking it behind a form, and requesting contact info before providing information! This is how you acquire the lead. How else can you get the prospects information. If the content is “juicy” enough, people do not mind giving up their name and email address. In other words…If you build it, they will come.
- Do we have a process and in the infrastructure in place to nurture leads? Just because someone fills out a form to get the latest and greatest information, does not mean they are necessarily ready for a phone call so you can sell them on your services. You must let the lead grow and in order to do this, you need to nurture them. This can be done through email drip campaigns, webinar invites, newsletter/blog subscriptions, white papers, social media etc… If someone raises their hand several times to get information from you, then they are more willing to talk to you about your services. However, there is specific tactics and orders of procedure that has been studied and proven to work with nurturing a client. Don’t just throw tons of information their way and expect a sale, it most likely will not work.
- How do we know what’s working or not – are we getting a ROI on our investment in marketing? If you don’t have the tools and technology to measure, analyze and track your investments in marketing, you might as well revert to a Ouija board or your Magic 8 Ball to determine whether or not what you have done to get in the leads. By measuring and analyzing you no longer have to waste your time on creating campaigns that do not attract leads. If your campaign works, than repeat it!
Inbound marketing will not replace your 1:1 marketing efforts, just like e-mails and your first website did not. However, this is not the time to watch this marketing ship sail past, as the pace of change in marketing approaches and technologies is fast and furious, and the longer you wait, the further you’ll fall behind your competitors.
Inbound marketing can help you get more leads, more ROI and more new business. If you want to know more about inbound marketing, download our latest complimentary eBook, “The Partner’s Guide to Inbound Marketing – 2012”here.
Or, call us at 585.425.2552 for a discussion about how an inbound marketing program can work for your firm.