The Two Biggest Questions We Get From Managing Partners On Digital Marketing And Why You Need To Know The Answers
The Two Questions
When we’re talking to Consulting firms about their Digital Marketing, there are two common questions we get asked.
The first question people ask: Where’s the return on investment? What can Digital Marketing deliver for my firm in terms of results? Why should I take money from one part of my marketing budget and put it towards Digital Marketing instead?
Secondly, they ask: Why would I pay someone to help me with Digital Marketing when my team can do it themselves? If I have Consultants on the bench, not currently being charged out to clients, can’t I just get them to write blog posts and tweet and post on LinkedIn.
Obviously, as a Digital Marketing agency for Consulting firms, we have a vested interest in saying this, but it’s worth saying anyway:
Digital Marketing can generate huge results for Consulting firms when used effectively.
In this article, we’ll dig into exactly why that’s the case and answer these two questions which are critical for your firm’s marketing success.
What’s the ROI on Digital Marketing?
Instead of trying to confuse you with Marketing jargon and statistics about the number of touch-points needed, we like to be transparent, and use easy to understand case studies to show the success that can come from effective Digital Marketing.
Make no mistake, there are some Consulting firms that have had incredible success by focusing on Digital Marketing. Here are two that clearly stand out as great examples.
Firstly Elixirr, the “Challenger Consultancy”, focuses intensely on their Digital Marketing, particularly their website and their content marketing (In fact, we did a case study on their Digital Marketing secrets, which you can find here).
This strategy is definitely working for them. The Financial Times named Elixirr as the fastest growing Management Consulting firm in the UK, having grown by 424% between 2012 and 2015. If that’s not enough, the firm was also named as one of the fastest growing consultancies in the US in 2017 by Consulting Magazine.
Secondly, 11:FS who have quickly achieved prominence since their founding in 2016. Like Elixirr they have achieved this through a strong focus on Digital Marketing.
11:FS have focused heavily on audio content, producing three podcasts - FinTech insider, Blockchain Insider and InsurTech Insider - aimed at the key business areas they are trying to target. in addition to this they also produce a wealth of written content and have cultivated an effective social media presence.
Again, this focus on Digital Marketing is paying off for them. In addition to having one of the top podcasts in the iTunes business charts they are also finalists in the British Banking Association’s 2019 Consultancy of the Year award.
Suffice to say, Digital Marketing pays off. These firms are evidence of that.
Digital Marketing vs. Traditional Marketing
Now the question you’re probably asking, and the concern that stops a lot of Consultancies doing more in the Digital space, how much does it cost to deliver effective Digital Marketing?
Well, firstly, let’s consider how much you might be spending on other forms of marketing.
What about a conference sponsorship? You’re looking at around £10k to sponsor a reasonable sized conference. If you want to send five of your team, you’ll have to buy tickets, probably at £200 per person, plus maybe £500 per person in travel, accommodation and subsistence expenses. You’ll also have to take into account the opportunity cost. For every day that person is at a conference, they’re not being charged out to a client.
All in, for five people to attend and sponsor a conference for a couple of days could cost you up to £25,000. That’s an awfully big outlay just for the possibility that they might meet some potential buyers, who might take a business card, and might remember to call back when they’re ready to engage a Consultancy.
Forget a conference then: what about client entertaining? Let’s get some valuable former and potential clients and take them to the rugby. Bad news though: a hospitality package at Twickenham for the upcoming England vs Scotland Six Nations match will cost you £1,050 per person.
If you want to take ten clients and five Partners, then that’s nearly £16k spent. Thinking about your own marketing activity, how many of these events have led to future engagements?
If you want to spend that money for a nice meal and to watch the rugby, then by all means, do it - but don’t tell yourself that it’s effective marketing.
So what could you spend that money on instead?
Well, you could spend it on creating fantastic content to share with your clients. If you take the £25k you might have spent on attending that conference, you could hire an agency to storyboard, shoot and edit 5 to 10 days worth of high quality and engaging video footage with your team. These videos could showcase their expertise, the value they have delivered to clients, and your firm's unique positioning to attract both prospective clients and prospective candidates.
The benefit, of course, is that while the conference is a one-off, these videos are now yours forever and you can:
Put them on your website or social media.
Share them with past and potential clients.
Get transcripts of them and turn them into blog posts.
Take the audio and turn it in to a podcast.
Repurpose sections to share again on social media, in a client pitch or part of your recruitment process.
The best bit about this is that once created, this content is yours forever, to be shared again and again with prospective clients who are looking to find out more about your firm. As such, the marginal cost of this activity reduces over time so that £25k you spent suddenly becomes £5k when spread over 5 years.
If that feels like too big a step then instead of entertaining your prospective clients at an event, you could educate them with hyper targeted content. You could create a piece of content that you think your target clients would love, and then run a targeted pay-per-click campaign on LinkedIn aimed specifically at the CEOs, COOs and CTOs of the industries you work in.
This can have fantastic results. Below are the stats from a small campaign we ran on LinkedIn for our Digital Marketing Secrets eBook on LinkedIn. With a spend of just £100, we were able to reach 1,402 people and engage with 37.
You can scale that up: so if you took the money you would have spent on taking your clients to the rugby, you could spend £10k to reach 140,200 people and engage with 3,700.
Of course, going to the rugby would have cost £16k, so you could spend your £10k on pay-per-click ads, generate a ton of leads, and you’d still have £6k left over to wine and dine any strong leads you generated from this campaign.
Let’s assume that spending £16k nets you just one engagement worth £100k. Assuming roughly a 50% profit margin, you’d make £34k after subtracting the marketing costs. That’s an ROI of over 200% and you have still got all those leads and contacts that you generated from your campaign to follow up with and generate additional business from.
That’s the power of spending your money on Digital Marketing. We know that Consulting is a relationship business. Digital Marketing lets you create those relationships and connections at scale in a way you would never be able to do through other methods.
Why should I pay someone to deliver my Digital Marketing for me?
Now that you’re (hopefully) sold on the value that effective Digital Marketing can generate, you’re probably wondering how to go about doing it. You might already have your team producing blog posts, for example, particularly if they’re on the bench in between projects.
However this in-sourcing creates problems. Firstly, using your 'fee earning' Consultants for anything other than client work always has an opportunity cost. If you hire out a junior Consultant at £1,000 per day, then having that person take half a day to write a blog post costs you £500. Then there’s the cost of having a Partner spend an hour or two reviewing it and rewriting it, which might be another £500 on top.
Even if you don't account for your bench activity like this, the half day that that person spent writing a blog is a half day they could have spent writing the response to an RFP or supporting an ongoing project desperate for some additional bandwidth.
So what could you do instead? You could hire a top-notch copy writer, with expertise and experience in your industry, to write a 1000 word blog post to a much higher standard than your Consultant would manage - because this person is a full-time writer - and it would probably cost you the same £500.
You might not agree with us on this. You might not believe that there is an opportunity cost and you might think that if your team is on the bench in between projects, it’s cheaper to have them write your blog posts.
Even if this is the case, it ignores a couple of issues:
Firstly, a lot of Consultants actually aren’t great writers, so you risk putting out sub-par content without a lot of supervision and attention. Don’t believe us? Take the last 5 blogs your firm have put out and run them through Hemingway, an app that scores the quality of written content.
Secondly, your Consultants aren’t marketing experts, so they likely aren’t thinking about your firm’s content strategy, market positioning, tone of voice, branding, and other similar things that are second nature to a professional copy writer.
If you did want to use your team to support your marketing efforts - and we firmly believe this is a great approach when done effectively - there are far better uses for their time.
While it might take them half a day or a day to write a decent blog post, it might only take an hour to write, shoot and edit a short video for YouTube, Twitter or LinkedIn. To sit down and record a podcast could take anywhere from 20 minutes to two hours, depending on how in-depth you want to go.
These are much better ways to build your team’s personal brands and their connection with their target clients. These formats can also easily be re-purposed into blog posts, images, audio content or other videos at a minimum cost.
The two common questions we get on Digital Marketing are: “will this deliver an ROI for my firm? And if so, can’t I just use the Consultants I have on the bench to do it?”
Firms like Elixirr and 11:FS show that a focus on Digital Marketing can help build real, industry-leading firms. When compared against other forms of traditional marketing, it is clear that Digital Marketing is cost-effective and can generate big results for your firm.
If you have made the decision to invest in Digital Marketing, then partnering with an agency you trust can help you to not only save money but let your team focus on where they are most effective: delivering great results for your clients.
Digital Marketing can be a huge growth driver for your business. Firms like Elixirr and 11:FS have had great success by focusing primarily on Digital Marketing.
More traditional forms of marketing like conferences and client entertaining can be incredibly expensive and it’s often unclear what results they will generate.
For the same amount of money that you would spend on more traditional marketing methods, you can generate incredible results with Digital Marketing (and create content that you can use over and over again).
Using trusted partners to help you create and deliver your Digital Marketing can free up your team to either earn money for you on projects or to build in-person the relationships you first started via Digital Marketing.
If you want to develop a Digital Marketing strategy that drives results for your Consulting firm, feel free to get in touch - we’d love to talk to you!