Great Offers are a Key Part of the Secret Sauce of Inbound Marketing
CPA, consulting, AEC and other professional service firms that want a bigger bang for their marketing buck are turning to highly tactical lead generation campaigns. These are centered on some of type of offer delivered through different digital channels, from web sites to social media.
I’m not talking about an offer like “Buy 1 audit, get a second audit at half price!!”, or “Limited time 20% off on consulting hourly fees” … although it’s pretty likely that you’d get a ton of leads with either of these. In a professional service environment, when we talk about an offer, we’re really referring to packaging and promoting a piece of thought leadership, in exchange for a prospect’s contact information.
That’s one of the key ingredients in the secret sauce of inbound marketing.
Survey of Best Lead Generation Practices
One of the questions we asked was “What are the most effective types of offers you use to generate leads”.
Using a combination of “very effective” and “effective”, here are the top five types of offers used by CPA firm marketing folks to generate leads:
- Free consultations
- Newsletter subscriptions
Hmmm… see a pattern here? Four out of five of the top offers are for some type of content built around thought leadership. In other words, if you haven’t hopped on the content marketing bandwagon yet, as Mr. Woody my violin teacher said to me nearly 125,000 times, “Keep up!!! You’re a few beats behind the measure!!”
Marketers vs Managing Partners: What Types of Offers Do They Consider to Be Most Effective?
One of the ways we sliced the data from the survey was to see if Managing Partners and Marketers were on the same page when it came to different aspects of lead generation. Why is this important? Because with limited resources and tightly controlled budgets, it’s imperative that the firm be highly focused on ROI, and you can’t get ROI if you don’t have concurrence on tactics.
The data showed (see graph below) there’s a lot of work ahead, because marketers and managing partners simply aren’t on the same page when it comes to the most effective types of offers.
What this is means is that it’s probably a prudent move to start using marketing analytics to really see – not just guess or assume – about the effectiveness of different strategies and tactics. You can’t be on the same page if you’re reading from different parts of the score. (That’s another Mr. Woody reference)
A Few Final Thoughts on Types of Offers in an Inbound Marketing World
The difference between an offer and a piece of content is that an offer requires use of a form to collect prospect contact info before downloading. There are, however, very valid reasons why you shouldn’t tuck all of your content/thought leadership behind a form. Deciding what requires a form and what is to be “free access” content requires a combination of art and science.
On a deeper and more sophisticated level, current content marketing wisdom says that it’s important to use different types of offers at different points in the relationship and sales cycle you have with a prospect. That means using educational content to initiate the relationship, and holding back on offering a free consultation until the relationship is warmer.
That’s something we’ll talk about in a future blog post because for some strange reason, I feel like getting’ the ol’ fiddle out of its case and squeaking out a few tunes.