How does your firm’s website sit in the context of your marketing and business development technologies?
- Is it one cog in a wheel designed to drive new client relationships to your firm?
- Or, is it a island? Disconnected from the mainland by miles of sea and operating in complete isolation from the real marketing and business development effort?
Leading edge A/E firms are recognizing that the website itself is a critical tool in the client attraction process. And, it’s just one piece of an integrated system that bi-directionally connects the tools the firm uses every day in marketing and business development. Each technology is valuable in its own right. Yet, as a system, 1 + 1 + 1 = much more than 3.
I’ve been speaking and writing about this since 2012. Most of our consulting firm clients were already onboard philosophically since early last year. But, most A/E firms are just now coming around to the value of bringing these technologies together.
Components of the Integrated Lead Development System
You’re most likely already familiar what each component of the integrated system described above. If so, skip this section and jump to the next. Otherwise, here’s a brief overview of each technology:
- CMS – Your content management system (CMS) is your 1:market technology. It is the platform that drives your website. It should be used to publish and edit all site content, including pages, blog posts, articles, case studies, research reports and white papers. Your CMS is most valuable to your marketing people who manage the information available to visitors and prospects on your public-facing site.
- Marketing Automation – Your marketing automation system is your 1:many technology. It allows you to learn about the people who interact with your web content. Automation enables you to segment your website audience based on demographics and behaviors and deliver content to people based on what interests them. It also enables you to setup automated marketing programs and identify your most important prospects through lead scoring (more on that here). Marketing automation is valuable to both your marketers, who can strategically automate the content sent to prospects, and business developers who can learn more about the interests of the specific prospects they’re engaging with. For more on marketing automation, read: An Introduction to Marketing Automation.
- CRM – Your client relationship management (CRM) system is your 1:1 technology. It’s where you should manage all aspects of your firm’s business development effort. Your CRM is most valuable to your sales and business development people to keep track of where a client or lead is in the sales cycle and the next steps needed to nurture the relationship. Used correctly, it’s extremely valuable to leadership as a predictive tool of what’s going to happen in the business in the near future.
The Integrated Lead Development System and the A/E Firm Website of 2015
With a better understanding of each component of the integrated lead development system, here’s a look at how they can be used together to help your firm be more successful in many aspects of marketing and business development:
- Attract Potential Clients — With useful, valuable content at the heart of the system, your website helps you attract potential clients you don’t even know.
- Build Your Database — Through intelligent calls-to-action, your system helps you build an audience of people interested in receiving your marketing content.
- Nurture Potential Clients — Marketing automation enables you to serve up personalized web experiences to the very specific client’s you’d really like to do business with. The site literally guides your ideal clients through the stages of buying — from researching solutions to their business problems with your thought leadership, to being inspired through your portfolio, to initiating a dialogue with the appropriate people in the firm when the time is right.
- Improve Business Development Efforts – The information coming from the system drives business development. With user tracking and analytics, the system literally prioritizes prospects for business development personnel to proactively pursue based on both who they are and what they’ve done within the firm’s website.
- Use Information to Drive Marketing Decisions – As a closed loop system, the useful analytics coming from it enables marketers to determine which content topics and formats are most likely to lead to quality interactions and opportunities for the business development effort. Ultimately, we can gauge which marketing efforts contribute most effectively to business outcomes.
An integrated lead development system is one of seven trends driving A/E firm website experience. For all seven, download our eBook, The A/E Firm Website of 2015.