Marketing for Consulting Firms
Lead Generation and Reputation Building
Are you responsible for marketing a consulting practice? Do you struggle with generating new leads and acquiring new clients?
It isn’t easy.
Whether you consult with senior management, CFOs, HR or marketing , new business development is always on your mind. Even when you’re busy, you’re always wondering where the next job or next client is coming from.
If it’s any consolation, you’re not alone.
Consultants and consulting firms of all stripes struggle with this … constantly searching for new ways to generate a steady stream of qualified sales leads at a reasonable cost.
You may be discouraged by this and think there is no way to achieve that goal. But there is – and I’d like to show you how.
Lead Generation … And Then Some
When it comes to marketing, almost every business measure success how many leads and how many customers were generated.
Sometimes, there’s recognition for that unmeasurable branding impact, but really, it’s about leads and sales.
Measuring leads is simple and direct. You run a campaign and count the number of phone calls, reply cards and landing page forms. Yes, it takes a little time to set up and track the lead sources, but in general, it’s a straightforward process.
Where it gets a little tricky is what happens after the lead comes in.
What plans do you have in place to cultivate those leads to turn them into customers?
Will there be follow-up phone calls, emails, mailers?
What strategy will you have in place to move your leads from their initial response through the sales process?
Depending on your product/service and industry, you may need to nurture your leads over many weeks or months before they are ready to seriously consider making a purchase.
Marketing from the Ground Up
We often think of marketing in terms of a particular campaign – the ad campaign, the search campaign, the direct mail campaign. And those could be important elements in your marketing program.
But marketing encompasses so much more than that.
It starts with your website where future customers get their first impression of your business. It includes your sales and marketing materials, your proposals and your lead tracking systems. Marketing should also focus on how you capture, nurture and engage your sales leads.
We’ve broken it down into three sections:
- The Basics
- The Pipeline
- The Campaigns
You may see these as separate entities or functions, but they all contribute your marketing.
Let’s take a closer look …
Step 1 – The Basics
You may already have some or many of these items in place, or you may just create them on the fly. But if you’ve been in business for any time, you know how important they are.
In today’s world, this is not an option. If you’re in business, you need a website. That doesn’t mean you need something that’s flashy and expensive. You just need something that’s informative and professional looking. You also need a website that generates leads. If people are coming to your site, you want to do everything you can to convert those visitors into sales leads. And that takes a strategy.
It’s a simple process, but every business should verify their business listing with Google via its Google My Business platform. (Bing and Yahoo have similar services). For the most part, businesses take this action to get found in local searches and appear on a Google Map. But it makes sense for every business to get verified with Google.
Introductory Information Package.
When someone says “send me some information about your company,” what do you send them? For many small businesses, this request turns into a scramble as staffers start to collect an assortment of sales sheets and promotional flyers. A much better practice is to have right package in place – as a PDF for email delivery, and/or a printed brochure or information package for postal delivery.
Sales Presentation Package.
At some point in the sales process, you are going to want to give a sales presentation to your prospect. Depending on how you sell, you should consider having a face-to-face presentation (for nearby prospects) and an online presentation (for long distance prospects). You may want to customize this package to each new prospect, but you should have some type of template in place.
Prospect Intake Questionnaire.
When new prospects call your office to discuss a project, do you work from a questionnaire or do you just wing it? It’s always better to be prepared. A questionnaire will help you qualify the prospect to determine if, in fact, they are the right prospect for you. It will also help to ensure you don’t forget to ask a question.
How much time does it take you to prepare a proposal? Hours? Days? This can be a problem for many professional services firms because it is un-billable time. You know your proposals are important and need to be done right. But you should be looking for ways to streamline that process.
Step 2 – The Pipeline
The Pipeline refers to all of your sales leads (inquiries, quotes, lost opportunities) as well as your customers past and present.
We believe staying in touch with your Pipeline is absolutely essential. You’ve spent time and money to generate these leads and customers. Don’t let that investment go to waste.
For your sales leads, you need a system in place to help you nurture and engage those leads through the sales process. And this includes those leads that didn’t buy from you. You want to stay in touch with all of them. They contacted you once. No reason they won’t contact you again.
For customers, continued marketing makes sense if you want repeat business. But even if you don’t, customers are good referral sources.
Most people routinely follow up new leads with a phone call, but if the lead is slow in responding, it becomes increasingly difficult o stay in touch over the long haul.
Here’s what we recommend …
Lead Capture Contact Forms
If you want to capture new leads from online visitors to your website or from responses to your various marketing campaigns, you’ll need some type of lead capture contact form. Most websites have a built-in contact form and that may be okay. But to maximize this process, we recommend explore more sophisticate contact forms or even third-party landing page services.
Email Service Provider
Once you have a generated a new lead, you need some way to stay in touch. The best way for follow-up contact is with email. For this, you need an email service provider that can provide ongoing management of your email campaigns. We use Constant Contact and recommend it to all of our clients. With Constant Contact, you can:
- Send daily, weekly, monthly emails for one modest monthly fee
- Send pre-scheduled drip email to new leads during an introductory period
- Send email newsletters
- Send “new project” announcements along with case studies.
- Send open house or grand opening invitations
- Send webinar or seminar invitations
- Send new product promotions or renewal reminders to existing customers
Email works well because it’s targeted and cheap, but reminder postcards have a greater impact because you can hold them in your hands. Postcards get more attention and have a longer shelf-life.
When prospects visit your landing page (or website), sadly many of them leave without ever filling out a form. These are lost opportunities but because of Remarketing (also known as as Retargeting), you are able to stay in touch with continued advertising to those same past visitors. We use Remarketing on both Google and Facebook.
Lead Qualifying Surveys
When leads come in, you often don’t know if they are good prospects because you haven’t a chance t qualify them. But if you send them a survey, you could gather some of that information.
It’s always good to get referrals from satisfied customers, but if you are waiting around for them, you may be missing some opportunities. Even your happiest customer isn’t thinking about you 24/7. You need to reach out to them and maybe even give them an incentive to send you their referrals.
Step 3 – The Campaigns
With your funnel in place, you are now in good position to plan, create and execute one or more marketing campaigns.
But choosing the right campaigns should be based on more than gut instinct. You need to first consider your audience, your product and your budget. We know not all of the campaigns listed below will make sense for your business, but we are ready to work with you to find the right fit.
Public Speaking & Writing
If you want to build public awareness and reputation for your business, public speaking and writing are by far the most effective ways to go. When you speak at industry events or write opinion/analysis/advice columns for industry publications, your credibility as an industry authority will skyrocket. With the right strategy in place, both activities – speaking and writing – have the potential for generating lots of leads.
If you can identify your target audience with some precision, direct mail could be a good option for you. With so much going on via email and online these days, think about the impact a personalized introductory letter could have on your prospects. You can use direct mail to precede a follow-up phone call, or to generate response on its own. You could also send an oversized postcard to leads that were generated through other methods.
Direct Mail Lead Surveys
One key element is selling is the ability to ask the right questions to determine a prospects interest and qualifications. We use this same principle with direct mail (and email) lead surveys. We target your best prospects with a well-constructed survey. When prospects respond, they provide your sales team with qualified sales leads.
If advertising is in your plans, you need to consider Google. Google is the largest player on the web – by a lot. We use and recommend three different programs under the Google umbrella:
Google Search – Google Search has become the new Yellow Pages. When someone wants to find a specialist in your field, they will type in your specialty for your location, and if you are a Google Search advertiser, your ad could show up on Page 1 of the search pages.
Google Display – this is a very different and less expensive option for reaching your target audience. With the Google Display Network, you place your ads, not on Google’s search page, but on the millions of websites, news sites and blogs that make up the Internet.
Google Retargeting – this is an advertising program that targets a very specific audience – people who have visited your website. These are people who have shown some interest in what you sell. It makes sense to stay in touch with them.
While Google provides a worldwide network of websites, news sites and blogs, Facebook runs all of its advertising on a single platform. Below are two paid advertising campaigns. These should not be confused with Facebook social media where all your outreach is free.
Facebook Ads – Facebook places your ads in front highly targeted segments of the Facebook population with sponsored posts and sidebar ads.
Facebook Retargeting – here you can use the same advertising platform to continually market to your own list of customers, prospects or previous responders.
If you sell to a business-to-business (B2B) audience, LinkedIn offers both free and paid methods for promoting your business. Some sales people rely heavily on LinkedIn to find and reach out to prospects.
Print Ads & Inserts
The demand for print advertising and print inserts is fading fast, but there are some occasions when it makes sense. For some segments of our society, magazines and newspapers are still popular. Don’t just dismiss this by simply calling it old-school.
Email has been a real game-changer for marketers. It’s fast and cheap. And it sometimes runs on auto-pilot. For business owners, it is an effective way to stay in touch with prospects, to nurture relationships, to reactivate old leads and to build your reputation as an authority in this industry. We use pre-scheduled drip email sequences to build relationships with new leads and regularly scheduled emails to keep your name top of mind.
They are not for everyone, but trade shows continue to provide path for face-to-face engagement with your target audience. You need to pick the right show to be sure you are reaching buyers. You also need to consider all of your costs – not just the booth costs but also your staffing and literature costs. Finally, you want to take steps to maximize your lead collection, then calculate your cost per lead at the end of the show.
Content Creation & SEO
We don’t usually think of content creation as a campaign but as an ongoing commitment. By creating new and relevant content on your website, you are building your credibility as an authority. You are serving your audience of customers and prospects. And just as importantly, you are getting Google’s attention. Eventually, you will see your content coming up on search results pages and your website traffic will increase.
But turning those visitors into leads is another step in the process. We recommend and create lead magnets – informational guides, white papers, tip sheets, charts and more – to incentivize response and capture new sales leads,
How We Work
If you come to us with a specific campaign in mind, we can help you with that. We will estimate the project in advance and then bill you in installments as the project progresses
But we believe a more effective approach is to look at your marketing not as a single campaign but as an ongoing and integrated system of activities – as I’ve outlined above.
For that reason, we recommend a month-to-month relationship.
For a fixed monthly fee, we will work with you on developing a plan and a set of priorities. We will then work with you developing those projects that are most important to you and your success.
The monthly fee covers all time related to planning, writing and project supervision. However, out-of-pocket costs for graphic design, printing, mailing, Google/Facebook costs, email services, etc. are additional.
We should add that we expect this to be a collaborative effort. While we can handle some of the projects independently, we will need your involvement – your input, your feedback, your expertise – to make this work.
If any of this interest you, let’s set up a time to chat.
We can use the call to get acquainted, or if you want to set aside some additional time, we can conduct an informal Needs Analysis to determine your priorities.
There’s no obligation either way.
At the end of our conversation, if you want to move forward, I will put together a more detailed proposal of our working arrangement.
To schedule an initial phone consultation, call me at 508-473-8643 or send me an email (email@example.com).
I look forward to hearing from you.