“You’re only as good as your last workout” is a common saying among athletes, but the underlying premise is just as applicable to many business development practitioners: you’re only as good as your last contract.
Among professional services firms and especially within the management consulting niche, there are many factors involved with getting the next contract. The strength of relationships among buyers and influencers, the brand, where prospects are in their buying cycle – just to name a few – all can affect getting that signature and lead some firms to question what marketing activities to focus on.
Fortunately, there is data to guide firms. The Hinge Research Institute has a growing body of research that shows the benefits of engaging in digital marketing. For example, in a recent report by Hinge, we found that most prospective buyers do the following:
- Look at your website (80.8%)
- Search online (63.2%)
- Ask colleagues (62.4%)
- Review social media (59.9%)
- Talk to a reference (55.5%)
Understanding that you ignore your online presence at your own business development peril, how should a management consulting firm address its strategy? For lead generating ideas, let’s look at these five points above through another lens:
- Website. This is your home base where you control the positioning, messaging, visual elements and level of interaction with audiences. Be aware of your company’s brand development strategy so that the website reflects the company you want to become. Consider offering various levels of educational content about issues faced by target audiences. They will come back for more.
- Online presence. With so many prospects potentially Googling you and your firm, you need to exist beyond the website with a strong, business-oriented authority. Get published with thought leadership pieces in other blogs, get quoted in the press, or speak at an industry event.
- Ask colleagues. Since audiences will ask their friends and colleagues about you, you must try and avoid the “I’ve never heard of them” response. Building your network within your niche with credible content can allow those influencers to respond positively. You may never even know they did, but cultivating a network creates the foundation for opportunity.
- Social media. Here’s where you can really amplify your expertise. Review your LinkedIn profile and give it a makeover as needed. Add the right photo and summary statement, join and participate in the right groups, and add links to places where you’ve been published. Do the same review of your company page. If there’s only time for one social network in your life, LinkedIn is the one.
- References. Professionals you put forth as references will of course say good things about you (or else you wouldn’t use them). But help them out a little. Stay in touch with them using that content they’ll find useful. They will appreciate knowing that you have a position on an issue, are the thought leader on a topic, or otherwise have staked out some area of strength. It gives them something to talk about other than “he’s a great guy” or “she delivered everything she said she would.”
At times, marketing your firm can feel like an overwhelming task. Where do you invest your limited time and money? What will work and what will not? One of the best ways to find answers is to examine how buyers select firms like yours. Our research has illuminated a path forward: invest in your website, build an online presence and build a strong network online and offline. The most successful firms use these strategies with great success. Now it’s your turn.
- Get a step-by- step guide to building a powerful referral strategy with our free Rethinking Referral Marketing executive guide.
- Dig into the research behind generating referrals today with our free Referral Marketing for Professional Services Firms research report.
- Better understand today’s buyers with our How Buyers Buy Professional Services research report.
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