Every week, I write about web design, copywriting, and digital marketing for independent consultants and small firms. Friday Fusion is a collection of said writing from Quora, LinkedIn, and email conversations with consultants. You can follow me on Quora here, connect with me on LinkedIn here, and email me here.
What do you find is the biggest challenge to launching inbound marketing efforts, including a new website? How can we prepare?
The biggest challenge to launching inbound marketing efforts? Impatience.
Inbound marketing is not quick.
You’re not going to write an article and rank on the first page of Google in a few days.
It can take months — even years — to rank on the first page for a competitive keyword.
But the rewards are worth it:
(Pictured: an SEO case study from Nat Eliason)
Think of inbound marketing as a long-term strategy.
Have something you can do in the short term — like direct outreach — to sustain your business.
When you’re not doing direct outreach, work on your content marketing, social media, SEO, and branding.
Inbound marketing is like investing. You have to be comfortable knowing that you might not benefit from the work you’re doing for 6+ months.
But if you’re consistent, your work will compound and scale.
And when it does, there is no better marketing strategy.
There is a profound difference between beating on prospects’ doors, trying to convince them of how good you are, and prospects coming to you, saying they’ve heard of your value and are curious as to how they can work with you.
-Alan Weiss & Chad Barr, Million Dollar Web Presence
Pay close attention to your audience: their pains, desires, and objections.
Understanding this information is at the core of your inbound marketing efforts.
It’s much easier to write a killer blog post or create a high-converting lead magnet when you know your prospects better than they know themselves.
The biggest challenge of launching a new website? Perfectionism.
People feel like they need to get their website just right before they launch it.
Your website doesn’t have to be a design masterpiece to start helping your business.
You’re better off launching an imperfect “Minimum Viable Product” (MVP) version of your website.
The feedback you get from your prospects is far more valuable than some final design tweaks.
Get your core pages ready (Home page, services page, about page, a few articles) and then launch. Figure out the rest as you go.
Think of your website like an organism. It doesn’t evolve in separate, distinct stages.
Instead, it is constantly evolving.
The top companies update their websites frequently—often weekly and sometimes daily. The changes are usually improvements to parts of pages rather than complete page redesigns or website redesigns.
-Karl Blanks & Ben Jesson, Making Websites Win
Don’t focus so much on the launch. Focus on continuous experimentation and micro-adjustments after you launch.
That’s where the value is.
How you can prepare? Don’t. Take imperfect action.
Launch your website even if it’s only 80% ready.
Publish that article even if you’re not totally happy with it.
Offer that lead-magnet even if you’re not quite sure it will convert well.
The key to inbound marketing is launching — new aspects of your website, new articles, new offers — over, and over, and over, and over again.
You’ll improve with each iteration — and quantity will produce quality.
How do consulting firm partners find clients? Do they just have a list of contacts and that’s enough, or do they generate new leads themselves?
It depends on the firm’s level of Marketing Maturity.
Marketing Maturity: The more mature a consulting firm’s brand, the less they have to rely on networking and referrals (contacts) to generate new business.
New independent consultants or firms describe their first 2–3 years where they could sustain their pipeline purely based on referrals.
Then, their referral well runs dry.
That’s when consultants must learn how to generate leads on their own.
Consultants who start their firms with a solid roster of clients based on their previous employer and close colleagues often think winning new projects is easy and will remain easy. It is, and it won’t. Those consultants invariably hit a wall at the five-to-seven-year mark.
-David A. Fields, The Irresistible Consultant’s Guide to Winning Clients
In David A. Fields’ Book he writes about the 5 marketing musts:
- Trade Associations
- Digital Presence
With consistent marketing, the consultant can generate leads through their thinking instead of their relationships.
A list of contacts can be enough for a few years. But unless you learn how to generate new leads yourself, you’ll be stuck in a “feast-or-famine” cycle.
What are good examples of productized services?
Productized services are an excellent way to package your service into a fixed-price, fixed-scope offer — meaning you can sell them without negotiating on price or writing a proposal.
Consulting Success wrote a great article on this topic, where they give 3 examples of productized services:
1. WP Curve (WordPress productized service)
2. UI Breakfast (UI productized service)
3. Brass Tacks (Analytics productized service)
I asked Jonathan Stark, business coach, how to create a successful productized service in my book, Productize Yourself: The Consultant’s Guide To Attracting Clients Through Your Website:
What are the benefits of creating a productized service?
The primary benefit of productized services is that they’re easier to sell than custom engagements. They are great for service providers who are not particularly good at scoping custom work, or don’t like creating custom project proposals. Since productized services are delivered over and over again, the seller gets better and better at delivering high-value outcomes more quickly. The buyer benefits from this because they receive the desired business outcome more quickly and without sacrificing quality.
How do you go about creating your first productized service?
Think back to your past engagements and look for a chunk of work that you had to do on many of them. This might be a discovery phase, a security audit, a system architecture, a brand guide, a backup and recovery plan, a marketing calendar, etc. They usually take anywhere from 3 to 30 hours of work, spread out across a week or two.