This article was authored by Lee Frederiksen, Ph.D., an ACG National Capital member and a Managing Partner at Hinge, the world’s leading research-based branding and marketing firm for the professional services industry. It was originally published on their online publication, Professional Services Marketing Today. To read the article in its entirety, click HERE.
Professional services firms have been relatively slow to adopt online lead generation techniques. It’s not surprising given that many commonly used online lead strategies such as contests or sweepstakes are simply inappropriate for many professional services firms and their clients.
Further, many professionals still hold the mistaken belief that the only way to generate new client leads is through referrals and networking. Hello… the world is changing! A new model of business development is already generating significant flows of qualified leads for many professional services firms.
Online Lead Generation Techniques that Work
Like traditional lead generation, the new model is founded on demonstrating expertise and building trusting relationships — but these goals are accomplished online. While online marketing will continue to evolve, here are ten proven lead generation techniques that are working for professional services firms today.
1) Search Engine Optimization
Many potential clients want to learn how to solve the challenges they face. If a prospect is even remotely computer literate (and these days what executive doesn’t have a computer or a smart phone?) one of the first things they do is Google their question, problem or issue. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) gives you the tools to match qualified clients with your online content. And if you play your cards right, you’ll end up on their short list when they are looking to purchase services.
2) Pay Per Click Advertising
Another proven way to get on your prospects’ radar is to buy your way onto search engine results pages for relevant keywords. This technique gives you greater control over the keywords with which you want to be associated. As the name implies you only pay when someone clicks on your link. Many times, Pay Per Click (PPC) leads are of higher quality because the potential client is often searching for a specific solution. In addition, PPC is completely trackable and typically less expensive than traditional print advertising. That’s an attractive combination.
3) Lead Generating Website
Most professional services websites are not designed to generate leads. As a matter of fact many are almost “anti-lead generators.” Jargon-filled, firm-centric website abound in the professional services — and they are completely passive and unhelpful. If visitors do not understand what you do or what problems you can solve for them, they will go elsewhere. Contrast this with a lead generating website that is designed to make it easy for clients to understand your value proposition, download valuable information and request a proposal. The impact on online lead generation can be dramatic.
4) Online Networking
I could have called this technique “social media,” but I wanted to make a point. The essence of social media is not which platform you choose. It’s the quality and reach of the networking you do. While the style of interaction may vary greatly from Twitter to LinkedIn to Facebook, it is still about making the right connections with the right people. Online networking can produce the reputation and referrals associated with traditional business networking. Expect to get results in proportion to the level of your investment of time and attention.
A webinar is the online equivalent of a seminar or other educational event. The lead generating webinar is typically offered free of charge. Because it requires registration, you can collect basic information on a session’s attendees. Like its offline cousin, a webinar should be educational — not a thinly veiled sales pitch. The key to a successful webinar is to select topics that are of great interest and value to your ideal target client. Over time, attendees come to trust your firm and will be likely to consider you when they have a relevant need.
Lee Frederiksen, Ph.D. is an ACG National Capital member and a Managing Partner at Hinge, the world’s leading research-based branding and marketing firm for the professional services industry. Lee is responsible for driving strategy and research for Hinge clients. With a Ph.D. in behavioral psychology, Lee is a former researcher and tenured professor at Virginia Tech, where he became a national authority on organizational behavior management and marketing. He left academia to start up and run three high-growth companies, including an $80 million runaway success story.