2013 is here and the market is one year further away from the 2008 collapse—and the painful period of layoffs and cost cutting that followed. The market now finds itself in a period of reinventing growth through business development and marketing. It is still a tough economic environmental with stiff competition for a limited number of projects and winning work in a smart, effective way is more important than ever. Being proactive about promoting your firm’s technical expertise is a way of taking control of your business, rather than letting the market control it for you.
A Look Back
Think back to the days of the 2006 market high tide when virtually everyone was busy. Companies got referrals by virtue of all the work they were already doing. Project pipelines were full, and phones were ringing. Prospecting for new business was not as critical as it is now. Today, if firms are not actively seeking out new clients, they are putting themselves at the mercy of the market—and a fragile, unpredictable one at that.
Marketing in the New Year
As environmental due diligence firms think about their strategic plan for the new year, it is critical to not overlook marketing. Companies should do everything they can to foster a culture that emphasizes getting the company name out in from of prospective clients in every way possible. The problem is that marketing can be very challenging to many engineers. Most did not become technical environmental due diligence experts to market their services. Yet they need to share their expertise using today’s tools to win business and grow.
As I learned from in-bound marketing expert Debra Andrews, founder of Marketri LLC, a marketing management company, “What consultants want from clients is for them to buy their expertise and what better way to highlight expertise than with content?” Companies that have managed to grow in the downturn are not lamenting the sorry state of the market. They are hitting the proverbial pavement to nurture leads. They strategize regularly about how to get their names out in front of the people who matter to their business.
In-Bound Marketing 101
“Inbound marketing” is replacing traditional avenues of marketing. Simply put, inbound marketing is based on the concept of earning the attention of prospects, and drawing customers to your website by producing content that customers value. Inbound marketing has three key components:
- Content marketing: think web copy, blogs, podcasts, webinars, video, photos and yes, even tweets.
- SEO: a way to improve the visibility of a company’s web site in natural search engine results, driven by keyword-rich content.
- Social media: helping elevate your hard-written content so that it is found and can lead prospective clients to you.
What’s Your Marketing Plan for 2013?
The start of the new year is the perfect time to plot your growth plan, and reflect on what worked for you over the past year and what did not. Food for thought:
- Are you doing all you can to make your firm a stand-out?
- Are your competitors doing more than you are? (google their name and see what you find)
- Are you doing all you can to get your firm’s good name out there?
- What are you doing to tout the expertise of the great people on your staff?
- It is a misperception that social media is for the younger generation. It’s not. LinkedIn, in particular, Andrews says, is a “must” for all professional service professionals. How’s your profile?
- Do you have videos on your web site? Your clients are really buying the expertise of technical professionals, and video puts people front and center in a more powerful way than text.
The environmental due diligence industry is an extremely fragmented one. While that comes with its share of challenges, it also comes with opportunities to find new markets and reach new clients. The wide range of clients sectors means that any one of the thousands of companies in it can grow and prosper. Many of today’s winning firms are leveraging inbound marketing to win new business. Is your firm doing everything it can to prospect in a challenging market?
NOTE TO READERS: Every day, Andrews is out there working with clients in service firms—many in the architecture/engineering/construction sector—on developing how they are going to differentiate themselves, who they will target to get results and how to set their firm apart by taking advantage of inbound marketing opportunities. Environmental due diligence professionals are jump starting their strategic thinking in the new year by joining us for a free webinar titled In-Bound Marketing: The New “In” Thing for Environmental Professionals on January 15th. Mark your calendars and join us for some thought-provoking ideas for elevating your firm’s visibility and building bridges between your staff’s technical expertise and the clients who can use it in the new year!