If you’re a decision-maker inside a professional services firm concerned about growing your profits then this matters:
- Firms getting 40-60% of their leads online grow 4x faster than those generating no online leads.
- The greater the proportion of leads generated online, the greater the firm’s profitability.
- The #1 technique among the fastest growing and most profitable firms was blogging.
The call to action?
To gain a competitive advantage make sure your professionals are visible online.
We are in the middle of a revolution. Online marketing is reshaping how professional services are bought and sold. Consider these facts: In a survey of 500 professional services firms that formed the foundation for our new book, Online Marketing for Professional Services, we found that almost half (46%) of the firms had redone their website within the past year. An amazing 66% planned to increase their online marketing budget. The average increase was 56%. Clearly, something major is happening.
Online Marketing Defined Online marketing is simply the use of web-enabled technologies in service of marketing and business development activities. It includes techniques such as search engine optimization, social media, e- newsletters, website analytics, webinars and, of course, blogging. That’s what it is, but why is it causing such a stir? Let’s start with the money.
The Online Bottom Line One of the first priorities of our research was to determine if adopting an online marketing program impacted a firm’s financial performance. We found that, by embracing online marketing, you will see two financial impacts.
1. Your Firm Will Grow Faster. Our research shows that professional services firms that generate new business leads online grow faster than those that do not. Figure 1 shows this relationship. In fact, firms that get 40-60% of their leads online grow 4 times faster than those that generate no online leads.
2. Your Firm Will Be More Profitable. Faster growth not enough for you? How about trying on some increased profitability. Here again the data are compelling. Figure 2 shows that the greater the proportion of leads generated online, the greater the firm’s profitability.
Why Does It Work So Well? There are probably a lot of reasons that contribute to the success of online marketing. But one important clue comes from a recent study of professional services clients. We asked them how they would go about looking for a new firm, the second most frequent response was to search online. If you aren’t found, you won’t be considered. If you are easily found, you gain a competitive advantage. But also consider the most popular response, which was “ask a friend or colleague.” An online approach is also an effective way to increase your visibility and convey your reputation. By sharing valuable educational content online, you can effectively establish your expertise. In short, online marketing allows you to be more easily found when it comes time to retain a new firm. Whether the client turns to friends or a search engine, there you are.
What About Blogging? So what does blogging have to do with online marketing? Quite a bit, as it turns out. You may recall that we referred to a study of online marketing in professional services firms. In that same study, we evaluated the level of usage and perceived impact of 15 commonly used online marketing techniques. We found that number one technique among the fastest growing and most profitable firms was blogging. It was also rated as second highest in terms of overall impact. No other form of content was even close. So, here is my conclusion based on the research and modeled on the practices of the highest performing firms: if you want to grow you practice faster and to be more profitable you must blog.
About the Author Lee Frederiksen, Ph.D. is Managing Partner of Hinge, a leading branding and marketing firm that specializes in professional services (www.hingemarketing.com). He’s started and run three high- growth companies, including an $80-million runaway success. Lee has worked with many global brands, including American Express, TimeLife, CapitalOne, monster.com and Yahoo! He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Last summer, Lee and I co-hosted a webinar entitled, Blogging for Clients: How Online Relationships Lead to Real-World Clients. That webinar is recapped in Lee’s blog and my blog.
Lindsay Griffiths of the International Lawyers Network also wrote a 3-part recap on her blog. Part 1 explores the economic case for online marketing, Part 2 focuses on developing strategy first and tools second. Part 3 captures the Q&A at the end of our webinar. Image Credit: The graphs are Lee’s and the Blogging Cartoon is by Hugh MacLeod (my add).