5 Compelling Reasons To Prospect With Inbound Marketing Strategies
Most traditional business development efforts include “prospecting” and "go/no go" stages. While many professional services firms may call these stages different names, there are always activities to (1) discover a new lead, (2) speculate as to the level of interest during the pursuit, and (3) determine the viability of the lead (go/no go). Below are sample prospecting and go/no go stage workflows for reference.
For a complete business development lifecycle workflow map, refer to Benefits of Professional Services Marketing Workflow Refinement.
While efforts may vary from firm to firm, it is important to determine whether the costs of pursuit (risk) are justified with a high probability of winning work. However, there is one major problem with traditional prospecting and go/no-go activities – we cannot effectively measure the effectiveness of traditional methods, and activities tend to be ineffective loss leaders.
So…what can we do?
We can transform traditional prospecting activities into measurable results with inbound marketing strategies.
What is inbound marketing?
By Wikipedia's definition, “inbound marketing is based on the concept of earning the attention of prospects, making yourself easy to be found, and drawing clients to your website, by producing content clients value.” Check out the inbound marketing definition.
1. Inbound marketing strategies shift the marketing department objective from bookmaking to strategic messaging. Today’s pursuit of viable opportunities is difficult. Competition is high, and many firms have to ramp up traditional “prospecting” efforts due to increased competition and diminished project opportunities. The marketing department must support these efforts with high-quality, costly materials to convince the client prospect that they should “at least” be candidates to provide a services proposal. At the qualifications stage, the odds of getting to the proverbial proposal table are less than 30%.
Why are firms squandering their budgets on pursuits with odds less than 30%?
Rather than producing expensive marketing materials that distract marketing personnel from pursuits with odds greater than 30%, try repurposing your intellectual capital into a solid inbound marketing strategy that earns your prospective client’s interest. Take a second look at your website and begin to conceptualize how you can repurpose website content for business development. For more information, please refer to Turn Business Development Upside Down with Inbound Marketing.
2. Inbound marketing strategies transform your website from being just a billboard in the desert to a search engine optimized business development tool attracting prospects outside your existing network. When you look up your firm’s core service competencies on a search engine, can a prospective client find you through a keyword search? For example, do you rank if you are a technical builder specializing in biotechnology? Or, if you are an architect specializing in historic restoration, do you rank?
Search engines have replaced our phone books and allow us to find the specialized services we need quickly. Are you missing out on viable leads because your potential prospects cannot find the unique services you provide? It is time to work outside your list of potential leads and nurture the leads looking for you. Being “found” and earning your prospect's interest by providing rich content will effectively and efficiently allow you to focus on a prospect with a genuine interest in your services. For more information on SEO and being found, refer to Get Found! Rank with SEO for Professional Services.
3. Inbound marketing strategies help prioritize executive time by possessing the ability to determine a lead’s interest level. Do you have the ability to quantify the cost associated with business development meetings that include executive time? Can you track said activities' success during the prospecting stage? With odds less than 30%, ramped-up business development efforts, and costs associated with executive salaries, it is no wonder why established firms barely survive in this economy.
We can change the complexion by engaging a strategic inbound marketing effort that allows you to nurture leads through a search engine-optimized website that incorporates targeted email marketing campaigns to help evaluate the right time to engage an executive. So many meetings give prospective clients free advice, only to find the opportunity was wired to another firm. Executive time and intellectual capital are precious, and we need to use them on viable opportunities.
4. Inbound marketing strategies enable automated sector-specific marketing campaigns to garner leads not in your sites. Every day the marketing department develops content for traditional qualification efforts that cannot be measured. Why not shift these efforts into an effective automated targeted marketing campaign that is able to evaluate who is the right prospect and determine the right time for engagement?
Marketing departments answer numerous proposals and provide extraordinary sector specific content to win new work. It is time to monetize these efforts into real, measurable inbound marketing strategies that drive traffic to your web site, track and maintain a prospect’s interest level and continue a dialog that will provide measurable results. Please also refer to Open New Doors with Targeted Lead Generation.
5. Inbound marketing strategies aim to generate a “buzz” that sparks a social conversation about your firm’s unique character. Professional services firms are comprised of employees who collaborate with clients and stakeholders to do great things. It is time to tell the story about your talent and their many contributions to communities with an inbound marketing strategy that makes a human connection. Professional services firms require relationship-building and making a connection. It is time to capture these experiences through a blog post, video, or social conversation, communicating your firm’s unique personality.
Most of the time, prospective clients do not get to know the personality of a firm’s team until the interview stage. They want to know, “can I work with this group of people for some time?” Let's give the prospective client a taste of what to expect by revealing the firm's unique character by providing rich, engaging content during the prospecting stage. Making the human connection early in the business development lifecycle may increase your odds and reduce the overall pursuit costs. Check out Professional Services Content Marketing: Let Video Tell Your Story to discover a great medium for making a human connection with your prospective clients.
If you need more inbound marketing conversation, please refer to the Free Guide to Marketing from the Cloud to learn how to go mobile with inbound marketing strategies.