... and 3 other insights (and implications) from Inbound 2014 for CPA, Consulting and other professional services firms
Here’s a confession: Unlike Damian, my 80 lb. Shepherd/Retriever mix, I hate car trips ... especially long distance trips, and I am not a huge fan of taking a turn at the wheel.
Damien gets all excited and jumpy and barky when he senses that it’s once again time to donate copious quantities of dog hair and slobber to the interior of my car on our way to the Crescent Trail here in Fairport. So now, my wife and I have taken to spelling out our intentions like “S-T-O-R-E?”, and going out to the garage before we put on our shoes.
But, long distance we did go last week... all the way to Boston for Inbound 2104, HubSpot’s annual conference for all things inbound. Even though I had to share the driving with Shannon and pay a jaw dropping $4.95 for a cup of grapes at a Thruway stop, I’m really glad we went.
Allow me to share a few insights and impressions from 31/2 days of phenomenal keynote speakers and workshops on everything from state of the art SEO tips to improving marketing/sales relationships.
4 Takeaways from Inbound 2014
Here are my four most noteworthy takeaways:1. Inbound marketing continues to grow at an unbelievable rate
SO get this: the conference had 10,000 attendees ... yep, 10,000!!!
There’s a lesson and a valuable insight for CPAs, consultants and other professional services firms here: inbound marketing is a tidal wave and for very good reasons: it’s a way to capitalize upon the opportunities resulting from the dramatic change in prospect buying behavior ... a change that’s occurring at the highest, most sophisticated level of CFOs right down to the sole proprietor of a local business.
This is a macro trend that partners and marketers just can’t ignore under the hopes that “our word of mouth and referral business makes marketing the firm a moot issue”.2. Prospects are Now in Charge of Marketing
One of the key reasons why there’s a tidal wave of B2B firms moving to inbound marketing centers around the fact that you’re no longer in charge of marketing – your prospects have the power. According to according to iMedia Connection, 93% of business buyers use online search to begin the buying process, meaning that instead of talking to someone in the firm before making a purchase, today’s buyers are doing the due diligence themselves, online.
That’s a HUGE implication for marketing. Of course thus doesn’t discount the value of word of mouth or networking activities, but consider this: even your referrals are going to turn to your website or LinkedIn pages at some point in the buying process.
It’s no longer about you pushing information out to prospects; it’s about capturing their attention and moving them rapidly through the sales funnel. And According to according to iMedia Connection, 93% of business buyers use online search to begin the buying process.3. Move from “Always Be Closing” to “Always Be Helping”
Building upon the above, prospects don’t want to be “sold”, they want to be helped. The way you do this is with valuable, non-advertorial content on your website and redirections to this valuable content through social media and other digital assets like PPC and an eNewsletter.
Here’s a challenge: hop on over to your website and see the degree to which it’s helpful or advertorial. If your site is just all about you, and has no or very little helpful content, then you may want4. There’s a new CRM game in town that partners and business developers will find incredibly easy to use
I wrote about this in my last blog post, but it’s worth repeating: HubSpot just upped its game by adding CRM capabilities into its mix of integrated tools and capabilities. Now, coordination between marketing and sales just got a whole lot better, and the process of turning a prospect into a new client just got a whole lot easier.
Here’s what I really like: partners don’t have to spend a huge amount of nonbillable time doing things like logging emails, recording calls, and managing data. This new CRM will automatically track and organize every interaction a prospect has w ith your firm, from e-mails sent and opened to web pages visited to whitepapers downloaded.
There’s lead intelligence functionality built right into the CRM, from high level prospect overviews to seeing their social media activities to even being able to see what, where, when and how a prospect has engaged with your digital assets, from emails to website visits to forms downloaded and a lot more.
This is very cool very timely stuff for any marketing that wants to bring their firm’s marketing function in closer alignment with the firm’s business development function
Call us to get more info, but before you do, check out this overview of HubSpot’s new CRM here.
Implications for Professional Services / Accounting Firm Marketing and Sales – More Effective Use of Nonbillable Time
Perhaps the biggest implication for CPA, consulting and other professional services firms that I see is the opportunity for firm marketers to more easily and readily tie their activities directly to sales in a way that’s never been possible before.
Think about the power of being able to create, launch, track and continuously improve a lead generation campaign, where the business developer /rainmaker/partner is always a part of the process without having the burden of always manually updating CRM records. Can you say “effective use of non-billable time”?
But even better, we now have the technology to move a prospect through the sales funnel with helpful content that build relationships as opposed to the old school method of sales with closing begins with the first touch.
You hate that. I hate that. Everyone hates that. So why continue to do marketing and sales that people hate?
S-T-A-R-T I-N-B-O-U-N-D M-A-R-K-E-T-I-N-G N-O-W !!!!