There’s an old saying in the opera business, “Never teach a pig to sing because it will frustrate you and irritate the pig!”
I bring this up as I recently had the pleasure of talking with a company that provides professional services, specifically architecture, which has enjoyed a long history of providing innovative, functional designs and building planning for their clients. They have enjoyed the luxury of great word of mouth referrals that have meant a continuing stream of business, which has fueled growth and provided good salaries for many employees.
This firm is now at a crossroads. There is a concern that there are many opportunities, for which they are well qualified, that they are simply not hearing about. There are deals happening that they aren’t aware of until an RFP goes out and they’re in the situation of bidding for low profit work, and as we all know, you can starve to death answering RFP’s. They are significantly more successful when they can get involved in the early stages of planning, to be able to influence design and staging decisions in their favor. What’s more, their pool of referred leads from existing clients is either not providing a sufficient number of high quality leads or that well may be starting to dry up.
Into this situation I introduce their website that is some number of years old, is primarily a static online brochure, is hard to navigate within and doesn’t provide easy ways to capture leads nor to encourage any visitor interaction. Any efforts at search optimization are minimal at best.
Does any of this sound familiar?
In preparation for meeting with this firm, I was curious to see what kind of conversations from the architectural industry existed in the blogosphere. Having looked at a number of aggregator sites, and doing some simple keyword search, I was able to conclude that there are ample opportunities for this firm to begin to become engaged in a dialog about their industry and for which they have a passion. There are questions being raised and design theories being discussed that would enable this firm to present themselves as not only experts, but also as concerned professionals in the advancement of their art.
My biggest mistake was to use the words, social media. The immediate response was, “Well, we’re not big believers in Twitter and Facebook, we just don’t see how those apply to our clients, what’s more, those involve so much time that the payoff is hardly worth the effort.” It didn’t surprise me to then hear that the principals of the firm thought their website was just fine, that it was not really all that important and no money needed to be spent there.
I had one of two choices: try to teach the pig to sing or simply walk away. I chose the latter.
I have found an interesting series of seven B2B case studies put into a well organized ebook by the good folks at MarketSherpa and available at Hubspot. If you go to page 56 of this ebook, you’ll find a case study of a professional services firm, an accounting firm, who used social media and SEO to build a lead generation machine that drove direct sales. In fact, they saw their website traffic increase by 68% and generate 10 to 15 leads per month! The old website generated no leads at all.
You can choose to ignore what is happening in marketing right now. You can say that it’s just not for you, and maybe it’s not. But if there is a conversation taking place out there in your industry, and you’re not part of it, then you’ve lost a big chance to stand out. You’ve also probably missed a great opportunity to grow your business.
Well, are you ready?
All my best,