What to Do When Networking Just isn’t Enough to Fuel Your New Business Engine
But before gazing into the (murky) crystal ball of marketing, here’s a basic rule of thumb: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. In other words, if your marketing program and budget have enabled you to reach your growth goals – or goals for things like top search engine rankings, site visitors, leads, subscriptions, and so on – don’t make any changes. Either continue what you’re doing, or double down on the tactics you’re funding, and voila! Your marketing plan and budget for 2014 is done.
If You’re Not Satisfied with Marketing Results…
But if you aren’t satisfied with your results I’ve got three tough questions you should be asking the folks sitting around the conference table in your next budget meeting:
- Will doing more of the same with your marketing get us to where we want to go?
- Can we expect a huge rush of referrals from our firm’s current base of contacts such that we don’t need “1:many” marketing assistance?
- Will our partners and other professionals suddenly (and perhaps magically) grow our firm’s network to the degree that marketing is moot?
Probably not, right?
Traditionally, firms have put their faith in referral marketing as their key growth strategy. But in 2013, the Hinge Marketing Institute with the RAIN Consulting Group conducted some very interesting research on how the buyers of accounting or financial services buy those services. One of the results that caught my eye was their inquiry into who brought the opportunity to the attention of buyers:
Hmmmm… with buyers searching for solutions rather than having a solution pushed to them (a la traditional marketing), maybe it’s time to put marketing efforts and budget into getting found and then converting finders into leads.
Making a Stronger Marketing Program for 2014
The first step to making your firm’s program stronger is to get rid of what doesn’t work and start using new strategies tactics that are responsive to trends in the way that business owners, CFOs, Boards and other key purchasing decision makers buy accounting or business advisory services.
Here’s a list of 8 ways that you can create a stronger marketing program for your CPA or consulting firm in 2014 that complements your referral marketing program and that delivers measurable results:
- Spend money to optimize your website
- Focus your website on lead generation, and stop using it as an online brochure
- Get your reluctant rainmakers to step up to the plate with content for whitepapers, blogging, presentations and so on for use in awareness and lead generation activities
- Consistently be blogging because of its value in helping your firms get found, rank high in search engines, and concert readers into leads
- Make your website mobile friendly because smart phones and tablets are the tools your prospects use to do their searches
- Nurture your leads and consider automated lead nurturing technology because there’s nothing worse that working hard to get a lead, and then have it wither and die on the vine for lack of attention.
- Get more focused and selective with your social media program because you don’t need to be everywhere online, and your resources might be prioritized in better ways
- Always be measuring your marketing spend for its effectiveness, based on a set of key performance indicators (KPIs) you should be defining as part of your marketing planning process
Are You Ready for Inbound Marketing?
A lot of what I’ve discussed above are parts of a new type of marketing strategy calledinbound marketing. My prediction: for all types of professional services firms, inbound marketing is going to shake up the way you develop and fund your marketing program.
Another prediction: professional services firms are going to be slow in adopting inbound marketing, which is surprising considering that so much of this strategy is built on promoting, publishing and using thought leadership for lead gen purposes. Those firms that are early adopters are going to be those firms that are going to see more traffic coming to their web site, more leads, and more clients coming from their marketing investment.