In the last five years, marketing as we know it has fundamentally changed. The B2B buying cycle is now 22 percent longer, with five or more decision makers participating in the buying process, according to Sirius Decisions. It now takes an average of seven “touches” with leads to convert a sales “suspect” to a sales “prospect” – and even more lead nurturing to close the sale, reports Bridge Group.
recent economic downturn has profoundly changed how small businesses buy from professional services firms. Gone are the days when businesses leaders purchased from their golfing buddies; with profit margins tighter than ever, one wrong purchase decision could mean your job is literally on the line. At the same time, more small businesses than ever before are outsourcing non-core functions to professional services firms in order to cut costs and streamline service.
Inbound Marketing Is The Key To Navigate A Changing Economy
Inbound marketing will position your professional services firm to take advantage of this changing marketplace. Inbound marketing produces a higher quantity of better quality leads for less:
- 34% of all leads come from inbound marketing
- Inbound delivers 54% more leads than traditional marketing
- Inbound leads have a lower cost-per-acquisition than traditional leads
It’s comes as no surprise then that for three straight years, inbound marketing expenditures have increased by nearly 50%, according to HubSpot. Sixty percent of companies used inbound marketing in 2013, with even more expected to do so in 2014.
Is your professional services firm capitalizing on this changing marketplace – or is it struggling to stay afloat amidst increased competition for smaller market share? Inbound marketing is a cost-effective approach to lead generation. Here’s what your professional services firm needs to know about inbound marketing.
1. Define your target marketplace and ideal customer profile.
Effective digital marketing starts with an in-depth understanding of the ins and outs of your target marketplace and ideal customer profile. What type of business is your professional services firm trying to reach? Who has purchased from your company in the past? Who do your competitors currently target? The more specific and targeted your inbound marketing plan is, the better the results.
2. Find your prospect's pain point and solve their problem for free.
Yes, you read that correctly: we said free. Great inbound marketing will give away advice, best practices and other free, solution-oriented content that solves your clients’ pain point for free. Why? Consider this: 61 percent of technology buyers desire content that directly addresses the issues they face at each point in the decision process, according to Knowledge Storm. Since professional service firms are knowledge-based businesses, content marketing is essential to providing businesses with a free “sample” of your services, which in turn is critical to converting leads. Great content builds relationships, earns trust with your clients and establishes your business as a thought leader, so prospects continue returning to your professional service firm and become customers.
3. Make your company blog work for you.
Does your company have a blog? If so, when was the last time you posted on this blog? If you answered “no” or “not in the last month”, it’s time to breathe some life back into your company blog! Seventy-nine percent of companies that have a company blog report a positive ROI for online marketing, compared to 20% of companies that do not have a blog, according to HubSpot. Furthermore, the effectiveness of this blog for inbound lead generation correlates closely with time and resource investment. Eighty-two percent of marketers who blog daily acquire at least one customer thanks to their blog, compared with only 57% of marketers who blog monthly. And don’t limit your blogging to traditional content – incorporate infographics, Slideshare, and other visuals to make your content even more engaging and shareable.
From establishing your business as a thought leader to nurturing lead prospects, inbound marketing is key to accelerating growth for your professional services firm. If you transform your firm to an inbound business, you will be well positioned to succeed in today's hyper-competitive business world.