Marketing for Consulting firms has traditionally revolved around building Partners’ networks, pushing out white papers, attending conferences and as many ‘coffee meetings’ as the firm’s Consultants can fit in.
That worked well for a long time – and some great businesses have been built off the back of these marketing strategies – but increasingly, Consulting firms are turning to Digital Marketing as an avenue to build a reputation, generate leads, and grow their business.
Think about it from your target client’s point of view: rather than emailing the firm that they most recently saw sponsoring a conference, they can instead turn to LinkedIn, Google, Youtube and other digital sources to find the firms and the Partners that they want to engage with.
In a world where your target client can easily research potential Consulting firms or Partners online before making contact, why would they consider a firm who they know nothing about, just because that firm’s logo was on the conference banner?
So, what is Digital Marketing?
In a nutshell, Digital Marketing is any form of marketing that happens online.
Some examples of Digital Marketing include:
Content marketing (including video, text and audio content)
Social media marketing
All of these are different forms of Digital Marketing. Each one has proven to be incredibly effective in growing businesses in almost every conceivable niche.
Consulting firms have traditionally been slower to adopt these strategies, but that is quickly changing.
Of those Consulting firms that have embraced Digital Marketing, there are a number of examples that stand out.
‘Challenger Consultancy’ Elixirr has been deliberate in cultivating their online presence and producing a wide range of content that is engaging and reinforces their brand. (If you want to read more about Elixirr’s Digital Marketing secrets, you can click here to read our insights).
11:FS are another example who have fully embraced ‘the golden age of audio‘. They produce their popular FinTech Insider podcast (among others), putting out three episodes per week on the latest news and insight from the constantly developing FinTech sector. This podcast has been a big win for 11:FS. At the time of writing this, it’s currently second in the iTunes business podcast charts.
Again, thinking about it from the point of view of your target client, you can see why these are effective marketing strategies. By putting out clear, useful and actionable content, these firms are providing value to their prospective clients, which helps to build their reputation and credibility. If you’re a client looking to work with a Consulting firm, you’re much more likely to work with the firm whose podcast you regularly listen to, as opposed to one you’ve never met before.
As an additional benefit, firms who embrace these Digital Marketing strategies are demonstrating that they’re happy to experiment, innovate and try new things. With innovation being such a hot topic these days, it’s the firms that show their willingness and ability to innovate that will stand out to prospective clients.
But what’s wrong with the old ways of marketing?
There are undoubtedly firms that have been built successfully off the back of the Partners’ professional networks. But doing that today is like driving your car in second gear: it works, and it might get you to where you want to go, but why wouldn’t you shift it up a gear and get there faster?
The real issue with focusing solely on your network is that, in the words of one Partner I spoke to, it limits your potential client base to ‘those within your bubble.’
Even if you’ve worked in the same industry in the same city for years, there will always be a limit to the number of client relationships you can maintain. There are only so many hours in the day, and only so many coffee meetings one person can take in a given week.
Compare that to the power of Digital Marketing. The great thing about the internet is that the marginal cost of everything is essentially zero. A piece of content, like a video or a podcast, has to be produced once, and then can be shared far and wide, reaching hundreds or thousands of people, with no additional work on your part.
What should you do?
Whether you’ve not thought at all about your Digital Marketing, or you’ve experimented with a few things but not seen any tangible results, there are steps you can take today to start building an effective Digital Marketing presence.
Step 1: Digital Marketing audit
Firstly, you need to understand where you are starting from. Look at all of your digital assets: your website, any email addresses or contacts in your CRM, your corporate or personal blog, the LinkedIn accounts of your senior team, and so on. What assets do you have? And what is working (or not) at the moment?
Step 2: Define your target client
You need to be clear about who you are targeting and why. Get specific: for example, if you are a specialist Financial Services Systems Implementation Consultancy then you may want to target CIOs in global Asset Management companies that have £1bn+ in assets under management.
Once you’re clear about who your target client is and what their challenges are you can brainstorm content ideas that will appeal to those target clients and get them to engage with you and your firm.
These two initial steps will give you a much clearer picture of where you are and what you need to do to move forward in your Digital Marketing efforts.
The key takeaway
Digital Marketing is the fuel on the fire: it helps generate more leads and build trust and credibility with those potential clients.
Digital Marketing will not replace your relationships. Consulting is, and will always be, a people business. To win a new client, there will always need to be a pitch meeting, a face to face discussion and a handshake. But a focus on effective Digital Marketing will enhance and complement your business development activity. Helping you reach more potential clients than you can through coffees and lunches alone.
If you want to reach clients outside of your bubble, at scale, Digital Marketing can get you there.
Remember: your competitors are already doing this. Thankfully, right now only a few of them are doing it well. If you embrace Digital Marketing now, you can get a head start on the rest of the market and outpace your competition. If you don’t, you might quickly find that your firm is falling behind.
If you want to find out more about how Digital Marketing can help you grow your Consulting business then get in touch – we’d love to talk to you.