Why Professional Services Firms Need Inbound Marketing is easy to explain. CPAs, Architects, Doctors, Dentists, Lawyers, and Financial Services firms all use some form of marketing to gain new business. Some use informative dinner invitations to persuade unknown potentials to listen to their pitch, while others use display advertising, couponing, radio, television and a host of other traditional methods to generate leads. While no one disputes customer referrals as being the greatest way to generate leads, it may be difficult to develop a formalized referral program.
We all know that the Internet is still in its infancy, despite it being available to the public for nearly twenty years. No, Al Gore did not invent the Internet; he just used the term so much that people thought he must have. He even thought he “popularized” it, but even he knows it was around long before he sought public office. The point is, even with nearly two decades of use, the fact remains that it is still evolving. As for marketing today, inbound marketing is the new form of marketing for the online business for several reasons.
- Companies are expected to have an interactive web site, or be deemed “out of touch with reality.”
- Inbound marketing is less expensive than traditional advertising by 61%.*
- Consumers have turned away from television commercials (DVR and TIVO), radio ads (Serios radio), telemarketing (caller ID), newspaper and magazine print ads (online news and e-mags).
- Consumers buy from those companies that display a sincere appreciation for the consumer through developing a relationship first.
- During the buying process, information gathering is performed online rather than in-store sales pressure. Online information that makes their lives better enhances the relationship.
Phone book advertising is down to the point of near extinction in printed form, newspapers are folding every day due to the lack of print advertising, radio and television advertising is more expensive than it has ever been, and so forth. The cost of printing and mailing of advertising in direct mail is more expensive and not always successful (because it is usually not executed properly due to lack of budget or vision). The consumer and/or decision maker is now in charge, and is no longer interested in being bombarded with commercial advertising. The consumer is using the Internet to search out information, and will purchase after they are comfortable with the business or provider that they feel will best suit their individual needs.
I bring out this point as a counter to what some feel is relevant; traditional marketing is no longer working the way it did. A few weeks ago, I wrote an article stating that the traditional model was broken, and I received some negative criticism from it. While I believe that traditional forms of marketing are in fact less productive than in the past, the bottom line is more people are seeking information online than any other form of business information. The trends reflect a permanent move away from “sales” transactions to “relationship” transactions. People want to feel they gained value and a friend, not just a commodity for the best price.
Some firms will require more of an online presence then others, but if your competitors are actively involved in inbound marketing, chances are you should be too. Competition is fierce, and the future is for those willing to fight for it. Inbound marketing is not the panacea, and it is hard work, but a comprehensive review of your present marketing process versus your goals can tell you what the future will bring.
A no-cost, no-obligation, comprehensive marketing evaluation can be arranged by calling Zen Marketing today.
*-As documented by Benchmark Survey of more than 1,271 Chief Marketing Officers, Marketing Sherpa