This article presents a framework for what needs to happen in your marketing efforts to translate your content into leads, projects and revenue.
This Thursday we’ll be presenting the findings of our 2016 Thought Leadership and Digital Marketing Survey in New York. The study, conducted in partnership with AMCF, The Bloom Group and Research Now, seeks to identify what the leading thought leadership marketers do differently. Last year, we identified a variety of characteristics of leading thought leadership programs and consulting firm websites. As examples, we found that leaders:
- Strike a healthy balance between the knowledge of their consultants and the findings of their original research in developing thought leadership (source: Bloom Group).
- Invest more online (12% more in fact; source: Bloom Group).
- Are 11% more likely to collocate their thought leadership on their corporate website.
- And, 14% more likely to gate a small portion of their thought leadership content.
While I felt really good about the findings of last year’s study, some of the things we failed to learn have stuck with me for 12 months. In fact, in putting together this year’s study I had one goal — to understand what leaders do with that additional 12% in their online marketing budget. Essentially, my hope was to dig a bit deeper beneath the surface to understand what the leading teams actually do differently in their work to yield higher quality outcomes (more leads and revenue). And, I’m confident that we’ve accomplished this objective.
In the process of formalizing my remarks for this week’s event, I developed the following framework to describe the steps a firm needs to take to monetize its thought leadership online:
- Attract — First and foremost, a firm needs to attract potential clients to its thought leadership (wherever its housed online). This can take a number of forms such as paid promotion (online advertising), technical services (SEO), speaking, public relations, etc. Regardless of the model, nothing can really happen if a client doesn’t know we exist.
- Engage — From there, the firm has to engage the site visitor beyond their first interaction. This involves both keeping the visitor there (getting them to consume more and other types of thought leadership) and drawing them further into the firm’s story (getting them to go beyond the thought leadership itself).
- Convert — Quite possibly the most critical step in the process is the moment when the otherwise faceless site visitor officially raises their hand and gives the firm permission to market to them. This is the moment when the potential client actually becomes a potential client. They cease being a number in Google Analytics and become a physical lead we could do business with at some point in the future. Usually, a conversion occurs at the moment a site visitor subscribes to the firm’s marketing communications.
- Nurture — From there, it’s the firm’s responsibility to guide the client through their buying journey towards a relationship. This usually involves a variety of follow-on marketing activities such as email marketing and the use of digital tool sets to influence where and how the client spends their valuable time.
- Converse — Ultimately, this is the end game for the marketer. In professional services, nothing can get bought or sold until someone talks to someone. In the end, the goal of modern professional services marketing is to deliver conversations to senior partners, principals and business developers. This is the yield of the first 4 steps.
In this Thursday’s session, I’lll share what this year’s survey (and our years of experience working with professional services firms) has taught us about what the leading firms do differently in these 5 areas. I hope to see you there.