Research: What’s Working in Marketing For Consultants

freedigitalphotos_research magnifying glassB2B prospects are harder, if not impossible to reach. Generating qualified leads is more difficult. Standing out in the current din of social media, content marketing and other online noise brings new challenges for consulting firms struggling to reach busy buyers. These challenges leave many consulting firms uncertain about how to best market their services.

Unfortunately,  there’s little reliable data on marketing and lead generation for small and medium-sized consulting firms, many are struggling to navigate this age of rapid change while building, maintaining and growing their firms.

Get The Word Out collaborated with the Institute of Management Consultants USA to conduct a research study on what’s working in marketing for B2B consultants. In this survey, we polled over 375 B2B consultants about the following:

  • The role of strategic planning in developing a marketing program
  • How high performing companies effectively generate business leads
  • The role of established tactics like networking, speaking and publishing
  • How consultants approach online presence, content marketing and social media
  • Where consultants should invest resources (and avoid wasting money)

We had to two primary goals for this survey: identifying what’s working in marketing and lead generation and how top performing consulting firms achieve key business objectives; and, equally important, isolating what does not work to better help consultants avoid ineffective practices that are contributing to their stated marketing challenges.

Our research into uncovered two subsets: a majority that were not achieving desired results from their marketing and lead generation efforts; and a minority of firms that were growing their revenues, whose “best practices” can serve as benchmarks for what to emulate (and avoid) to achieve a more effective marketing and lead generation program.

Key Takeaways

The top three consultant marketing challenges: reaching buyers (50% ), generating sales leads (42%) and increasing brand visibility (38%)

75% of consultants do not base their marketing and lead generation on research or data about ideal prospective buyer organizations and decision makers

64% of consultants’ websites are not producing leads and sales inquiries

Content marketing: 63% of consultants cite Articles (print/online) as their top content marketing tactic, White Papers/E-books came in at (44%), and Blogs at (39%)

61% of consultants do not take steps to earn third party credibility, such as contributing their expertise to on influential, authoritative websites, blogs and trade media

66% rate themselves Fair to Poor in generating new sales leads

Two thirds (67%) of consultants do not implement an ongoing, proactive lead strategy

The top three outbound lead generation tactics among all respondents are Warm phone calls (51%), Online marketing (50%) and In-person, third party conferences (42%)

52% of High Performers generate 50-75% of their revenue from outbound lead generation (vs. referrals).  

Low Performers generated less than 25% of their annual revenue through outbound lead generation

48% of High Performers partially outsource their marketing, while 74% of Low Performers do everything themselves

A summary of the research report is available for download:

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Integrating online and offline marketing

By Steven Van Yoder

(originally published in Costco Connection Magazine, October 2015)

coverAs the digital economy becomes a fact of life, many businesses have come to rely on their website and social media efforts to drive sales. Seeking free exposure and greater access to buyers, they’ve abandoned traditional marketing in favor of blogging, email marketing, social media and other online channels as a means of generating leads and sales.

Unfortunately, online-only marketing is not delivering for many businesses. As more companies vie for attention online, reaching buyers is more challenging. According to a study by DoubleClick (a subsidiary of Google that develops and provides Internet ad services), online advertising yields only a 0.06percent click-through rate. Another survey from small-business consultant Manta reveals that more than half of small-business owners (59 percent) don’t see a return on investment from their social media efforts.

Read moreIntegrating online and offline marketing

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Money Talks: Market Your Business with Speaking Engagements

image_freedigitalphotos-microphoneWhen I launched my marketing consulting practice in 1999, I started mostly from scratch. Up to that point, I’d successfully landed clients via direct mail, cold calling and networking, but I was eager to embrace thought leadership marketing in place of expensive direct mail campaigns and meeting prospects via random networking at business events.

I embraced public speaking, contacting business groups and websites and offering to deliver talks and teleseminars on marketing, branding and public relations. It took some effort, but within six months I’d spoken 10 times. I saw that public speaking not only established my credibility but were much more effective in generating sales leads.

My talks are always designed to deliver practical information without sales pressure, and they almost always result in audience members approaching me afterward to inquire about my services. To this day, I average one new client each time I speak. In some cases, public speaking has delivered major opportunities.

In one case, I traced $200,000 of consulting work to a single teleseminar in 2003. This talk was a standard presentation on thought leadership branding strategies. It attracted a Personal Fame Program client, a large corporate consulting contract, and later, an invitation to speak at a conference which led to a consulting contract with a major US company.

Read moreMoney Talks: Market Your Business with Speaking Engagements

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