What to do to realize your goals
I’m a big believer that if you never decide where you’re going, you’ll never actually get there. This is why I want you to think very carefully about 2016. As a friend of mine says, hope is not a business plan. A plan has three key parts: strategy, tools and metrics. I’d like to outline the three key areas that I believe will help you have an awesome 2016.
To my way of thinking, there are a few key questions that a great service-based strategy should address:
- Who is our ideal client?
- What services do our clients need?
- How do we package our services so they most likely meet our clients’ needs and allow us to earn strong profits?
- How do we most effectively go to market and tell our story so we acquire the right ideal clients and avoid clients who are not a great fit?
- How do we retain these great clients for life so we have the greatest impact on them and they in turn offer us the greatest economic impact?
In my experience, when you ask the right questions, you put yourself in the best position to discover great answers. I really do think these are the right questions for service-based businesses who want to have very happy clients, consistent growth and profits that are 5 to 7 times greater than industry averages.
When you develop the best answers to these questions, you’ll realize several benefits. Your clients will actively refer you and speak highly about what you do. Your staff will enjoy working with your clients so it will be much easier to retain key staff. Your business will be much more valuable, which will produce attractive options for stakeholders, such as a liquidity event or even a transfer of equity on an earn-out schedule.
Of these questions, there are two that are clearly marketing related, my core area of expertise. First, how do we package our services so they most likely meet our clients’ needs and allow us to earn strong profits? And second, how do we most effectively go to market and tell our story so we acquire the right ideal clients and avoid clients who are not a great fit?
I’d like to recommend that you focus very carefully on these two questions. In this day and age, we recommend that clients package services wherever possible. Today’s sophisticated service buyer wants to window-shop without having to talk to someone. Sorry, but that’s just the reality we see today. If you package your services, you’ll get better online engagement, leading to more sales conversations.
As it relates to your go-to-market strategy, I’ve recommended in several other articles for Professional Services Journal that you master the in-bound journey. When you can clearly see where and when people are engaging with your brand online, you can pull the right levers consistently over time.
Now let’s talk about the tools you need to go to market and measure your progress. We see three essential tools these days and one optional tool that can be quite handy. The three essential tools are a content management system (CMS), marketing automation and customer relationship manager (CRM). The optional tool is a social media management system.
For CMS’s, we see several options today that our clients are using. WordPress is the most popular CMS, but it is often full of security holes. There are literally hundreds of CMS’s available today. The most important thing is that it fits your needs, is easy to use and allows you to publish content quickly and easily. It’s also important that the CMS allow for easy tie-in to your marketing automation system.
For marketing automation, there are several great tools available today. There are a lot of things to consider when it comes to choosing and using a marketing automation platform. I don’t have time in this article to give you details on this, but I’ve written a lot of other content about it on our website.
As for CRM’s, there are just a handful of key players. Most of our clients tend to deploy Salesforce. We are Salesforce power users. One thing that is important is that your marketing automation platform should tie-in seamlessly with your CRM.
Now let’s talk about the metrics you need to measure your progress. Traditionally, the marketing function at most service firms is asked to do two things: manage the brand and generate leads. Usually brand management is not all that measurable for service firms, unless you are simply measuring brand awareness, which we consider to be the weakest indicator of potential growth.
Measuring leads, on the other hand, is imminently quantifiable. But the problem is that marketing and business development’s definition of a lead are often quite different. We set the following benchmark with our clients for what constitutes a true lead.
- Need – they have a need for which your products and services are a good fit.
- Budget – they can easily afford your services.
- Timeline – they have a specific timeline in which they must act.
- Reason – they have a specific reason for taking action.
- Dialogue – they are willing to enter dialogue with you and move toward a proposal.
So the first metric we recommend is the number of true leads the marketing function needs to generate to fill sales pipelines.
All of our clients today are seeking to be much more scientific with their marketing. As much as they are using predictive analytics for other parts of their company, they are now seeking to do the same with marketing. They want to know they can pull certain levers and consistently achieve certain outcomes.
This is why the second metric matters just as much as the first. The second metric is client conversion. If marketing generates one thousand leads but none of them close, this is a problem. Over time, you should be able to establish a correlation between the number of true leads you generate and the number of clients who convert. This makes your marketing much more scientific.
While the end of the in-bound journey is the big goal and is the most measurable phase, the other stages are also measurable. This is why we recommend that you closely monitor two other key metrics: time-on-site and time-on-page. These two metrics are indicators that your content is compelling and is moving your prospects toward leaning-in status, where they are predisposed to enter dialogue.
How To Do This
To help you have the best year ever in 2016, I have a few options for you.
First, if you haven’t yet deployed marketing automation, check out the action guide on our website called 7 Steps To Optimize Marketing Automation For Service Firms.
Second, if you want to improve your content marketing capabilities, check out the action guide called 7 Steps To A Content Marketing Program That Consistently Yields Ideal Clients.
Third, if you want to improve your in-bound journey, check out the e-book called Ten Things Service Websites Must Do To Drive Revenue.
I know all of these content assets will really help you take the right steps forward.
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