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Virtual Business Development Ideas: Five Tips for Follow-ups

Add this to your pool of virtual business development ideas: follow-up!

We know, it’s a lot to ask. Your time is valuable. But the truth is, if you spend 15-30 minutes a week following up with leads, you are bridging the gap and reinforcing the connection.

Ingenuity Marketing principal Dawn Wagenaar is the queen of virtual business development ideas. She attends the conferences, schedules the coffee dates and makes time for her clients – and leads – and ensures everyone is on the same page.

Her advice: make time for your leads. Then they’ll make time for you.

If you prefer to read this content, the video transcript is below.

One of things I hear most often from prospects is “Dawn, you are always so good about following up!” It seems so simple but, I can’t tell you how many coaching calls I have been on with partners and managers and they have not done the follow-up that was needed. I even hear this in in pipeline meetings.

If you don’t follow up, you are leaving to chance your opportunity to win the sale.

You have to do the work in order to get the results. Here are five tips that will help you with your follow up.

1. Put time on your calendar – even 15 to 30 minutes a week will improve your chances at new business.

2. Shut your office door so there are no interruptions. If you don’t have an office, find a quiet space with no interruptions.

3. If you ask a client when you should follow up and they tell you an exact date, be sure to follow through on the date given.

4. Start developing a personal relationship – ask how they are doing, or bring up a personal detail or work-related question to get to know them better.  This makes them want to get to know you, which in turn builds the relationship.

5. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone. More than likely you will be leaving a voicemail anyway, but they will hear your voice and interest.

I know this takes time, but it is not as much time as you think. It shows the prospects that you care and that you want them as a client.

Do you want more leads? I am offering a digital audit analysis for a limited time that will help you attract more business. Just click the link below!

 I WANT LEADS!

 

Two couples looking at their social media accounts on their mobile phone

New Techniques for Social Networking and Lead Generation

Social selling does not need to be a daunting task you set aside for the beginning of next year. You can take small steps toward perfecting your profile, responding to one more person each day and utilizing automation tools to ease the weight of your workload.

Let’s talk through six techniques you can use to flesh out your next virtual business development social media campaign to meet your lead quota.

Tip #1: Be Yourself

This concept has shifted over the last few years. Now, social media platforms want you to use your personal profile to build your brand. What does that mean? It’s time to get personal. Show your LinkedIn followers your work-from-home station, complete with snoozing cat to keep your feet warm.

If you’re only using social media from the standpoint of your brand’s company profile, then use your style guide to ensure consistency across all posts.

Personal: Build your personal brand. To keep you on track, build a mood board and include phrases you might use to remind yourself of who you are as a brand. Revisit your personal brand every few years to keep your profiles up-to-date.

Business: In all likelihood, your firm has a brand style guide. Use this tool to inform your voice, use imagery that best reflects your brand, and this should also include keywords you to use to reinforce your firm’s selling points.

Tip #2: Respond

It takes time, and it may heighten your anxiety at first, but you’ll soon get used to utilizing your social media inboxes much the same way as you use Outlook to respond to client requests.

Facebook: Facebook users treat Messages like phone calls. By this, we mean, they may ping your inbox before picking up the phone to see if you’re open, to inquire about a certain service or anything under the sun.

If you’re using a social scheduler like Hootsuite, you can respond to messages in multiple accounts from one platform.

Also, respond to comments. This will become even more important in the coming months, as Facebook phases out current message permanence (think of Snapchat, i.e., how your videos disappear after 24 hours.)

Personal: It’s easier to respond in a timely manner, when you’re using a personal account. You may need to be using your firm’s IP address when logging in to Lastpass to access the company LinkedIn, for example. That requires physically going to the office, or using a VPN, all of which takes time. The key here is to be prompt in your response. Some people are on social media 24/7 and they expect you to be as well. When using your personal account, remember to be your regular witty, colloquial, emoji-loving self. Try not to be too salesy when schmoozing with potential clients. Save that for the business replies.

Business: Make sure you have your style guide handy when responding to messages that land in your company inbox. Company messages tend to be brief, and professional. For example, you can respond to an inquiry with a timely reply like this: “Thank you for reaching out to COMPANY XYZ. We will get back to you as soon as we can. Hope you have a pleasant day!” If you go this route, you can use rules to send automatic replies to new inquiries. If there are multiple people accessing the account, make sure you include an identifier like “(~Tiffany, staff accountant)” at the end of your message so the next person knows who responded in the first place.

Google Business Profile: For businesses only, make sure your messages are turned on in Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business).

The same goes for reviews. Reviews are integral to your lead generation, social media campaign and business development strategy. According to Qualtrics, 93% of consumers read reviews before making a purchase decision.

Learn more tips for establishing your online presence in our blog here.

Tip #3: Automation

Make the system work for you. You’re busy. When you’re a partner, manager or project manager, utilizing all the tools at your disposal seriously works to your advantage.

For example: On LinkedIn, you can use Sales Navigator to categorize leads so you know who is a lead and who is a peer from college. You’ll want to talk to them differently.

You can use a tool like PhantomBuster to reach out to potential clients and “connect” with them. This tool also has the capabilities to automatically send initial messages and replies to connections. This is helpful when you’re crunched for time. You can’t spend all of your time on social media, right?

Tip #4: Shake It Off

If a certain platform is not performing, if you’re not seeing any leads from it, and it’s just not proving of any value to you, leave it be.

One thing we tell clients at the beginning of their social media journey is to focus on one social media platform at a time.

Tip #5: One at a Time

You can’t scale every mountain at once, right? You have to learn your tools, possibly even buy tools, figure out if your audience is even on a certain platform, then develop your strategy.

  • Pick Your Platform – For example: You hear everyone is back on Instagram. Should you be on Instagram? Instagram is a visual platform. If you’re selling cupcakes, architectural designs or even nonprofit memberships you may want to consider being on Instagram.

If you’re a professional service firm, it’s hard to visualize accounting, how to save money on taxes, etc. You could use a tax return image with a text overlay, but that’s not the point of this particular platform. Save the text overlays for your blog’s featured image.

  • Do the Research – Learn the platform. Do the research to see if your target lead generation audience is even on said platform.
  • Strategize – Your followers want to see consistent content. Social media algorithms like consistency. If you post every Wednesday at 2 p.m., you will rank higher in the feed. That’s one element of a good social media strategy: establishing timing.

Shareable content: Twitter and Facebook algorithms are changing such that even if you’re not friends with someone of necessarily following a certain page, you will see seemingly unrelated content in your feed because a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend commented on it. Make sure your content invites comments and shares.

Tip #6: Complete Your Profiles

This includes checking for typos, filling out everything you possibly can (for example: add a cover photo to LinkedIn, take skills tests, etc.) and ensuring your profiles look good. Take a step back, put yourself in your potential clients’ shoes and see if there isn’t something missing that can bring your profile from a B to an A+.

Ask Your Web Developer About Analytics

“He who hath not the measurement, hath no reason to doeth it.” Ok, that’s not a real quote, but it’s close. If you can’t measure your impact, why put forth the effort?

Before everything, every new social selling campaign, every virtual business development deployment, you must have your tracking in place. And tracking is different for every platform, hence the reason why you should tackle one platform at a time.

High level example: You can simply reference the referral source / medium in Google Analytics to track form submissions (lead capture) back to social media. However, it doesn’t get much more granular than that unless you add a UTM code. When you make this special code – that tells Analytics this lead came from Facebook, at 12:11 a.m., from the image of the architectural sketch, from your New Year’s campaign, from someone who lives in Chicago. This could change your entire strategy. With this information, you may want to segment your campaign to show your posts to a group of night owls vs a group of early risers.

On the flip side, if that image doesn’t perform, try the campaign again, with a different image. The same goes for timing, copy and more. The key to a successful social media campaign is experimenting.

If you’re rolling your eyes, that’s because you’re a partner or a manager, not a web developer. Ask your outsourced marketing agency or in-house web dev team to add tracking to any new element you add to your site for lead generation purposes.

Then you can improve your campaigns to get more leads, which is what we all want at the end of the day.

As always, let us know if you have any questions. We’re here to help you succeed and get the lead!

One last thing: When you’re the sales manager of a small firm, you could try delegating some of the load to a Brand Ambassador who can help drive even more leads from your combined social media profiles. Read this blog, for more information on that subject.

Writing with a Robot – Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Can robots handle your content marketing? During a recent webinar hosted by Associations North, a technology enthusiast/consultant gave attendees an update on marketing copywriting tools using artificial intelligence (AI). One of the most popular software tools is called Jarvis, which marketers can use to create blog posts, product descriptions, emails or ad copy. You type in a few keywords, describe the intended audience, tone of voice and other prompts. The tool does the rest.

The artificial intelligence of Jarvis, and other tools like it, will crawl the Internet and build unique content from the data. Some of the promised uses of these tools include:

    • Creating original, SEO-infused content marketing
    • Writing first drafts faster
    • Boosting digital ad conversion
    • Offering ideas to writers
    • Translating copy into other languages

Is AI the perfect, infallible answer to your content marketing needs? Can it replace a business ghostwriter? Not yet. The webinar describes AI like a “junior copywriter” who needs supervision. The webinar presenter frequently emphasized that a human writer must still review and maximize the final copywriting.

Use caution with AI copywriting tools

One of the cautions about AI copywriting tools is that they are not advanced enough to distinguish true features and benefits from exaggeration. In other words, “AI lies.” Particularly in professional services or marketing for associations, overpromising on client outcomes could create a legal and ethical mess.

Secondly, artificial intelligence doesn’t always understand intention or business goals for your copywriting. AI-generated content can be very interesting, and it can spark the human writer’s creativity, but it isn’t creative or original in itself. When writing copy for websites, you don’t want your content to sound like every other website.

Experiment with AI Copywriting Tools

Before you invest in a monthly subscription* for AI copywriting software such as Jarvis or Rytr, you can experiment with the product demos. Costs can range from about $30/month to several hundred a month. For a free tool to try, Write Cream offers a free monthly demo plan to try out its features.

As you experiment, think about the ways that AI-supported content marketing can save you or your team time. On fairly simple articles or sales copy, for example, the tools may help you generate a rough draft in minutes. Sometimes it’s easier to maximize existing copy than to stare at a blank page, right?

Also, the software may help you maximize existing copy to improve SEO strategy. By adding in your preferred keywords, these tools could help with writing multiple responsive ad descriptions or writing copy for websites.

As you experiment, the tool will learn from your inputs and should produce better results over time. That might seem either creepy or exciting to you. Either way, it’s how AI works. It continues to learn and adapt.

We will revisit this topic to give you an update on new tools for creative content marketing. If you have questions about SEO strategy or hiring a business ghostwriter, contact us at Ingenuity.

*Ingenuity Marketing Group, LLC does not endorse or receive compensation from mentioning any marketing copywriting tool in this blog post, and this blog post is not intended as professional advice. Readers should use their best judgement and read terms for use of any subscription-based digital marketing tools.

More Insights: Proposals Copywriting and Design Tips

 

 

3 Marketing Mistakes Engineering Firms Make

When creating an elevator speech for networking purposes, we were taught to say our name, our role, the company and the services offered. Unfortunately, this habit of focusing on services has leaked into every area of marketing. Especially in professional services marketing, many firms end up looking and sounding the same.

Consider engineering firms. They can describe their engineering, design, surveying or consulting services, but that doesn’t give a potential client much differentiating value. Offering service descriptions is the number one mistake when marketing for engineering firms. This mistake is also why firm leaders don’t believe that websites support leads and business development.  

Digging into this mistake further, it’s not wrong to describe your services. Just don’t stop there. Collect and show evidence for your best-in-class services as part of consistent outcome-based research, strategic marketing and messaging.

Let’s look at two other mistakes that lead firms to fall back on service descriptions as their only form of marketing.

Mistake #2: Inconsistent Marketing

Inconsistent marketing can mean two things. It can mean that your marketing messages don’t match your actual deliverables and results. It can also mean that you only pursue marketing when you’re not busy with client work or chasing proposals.

Solve this mistake by investing in marketing with a designated budget that includes an in-house or outsourced marketing professional. In addition, this professional will focus most of the time on marketing with only a portion devoted to developing proposals. Following a consistent marketing plan tied to firm business goals is a great place to start.

To create your marketing plan, discuss your best-in-class results. Where do your clients derive the most value from your services? What problems and challenges do you solve regularly on projects? Who are your superstar professionals whose technical and management skills are lauded by clients? What are those skills?

Read: Competitive research for differentiation

As you look at what your firm does best beyond delivering projects on time and on budget, your messaging will emerge to support web copy, advertising and differentiation in your proposals.

In a recent series of client of client interviews we conducted, we heard competitive themes about the firm’s reputation among key government agencies for bringing stakeholders together on a project. That message certainly goes beyond service descriptions.

You can identify competitive differentiatiors when you invest in consistent research, marketing strategy and messaging that describes the outcomes you achieve.

Mistake #3: Not Tracking Project Results Along the Way

Because projects take months and even years to complete, it’s important to document positive outcomes throughout the project and keep your marketing professional in the loop. Too often, marketers are left trying to catch up at the close of a project when some of those amazing solutions and experiences are forgotten.

In the early stages and middle stages of projects, put your marketing hat on. You are listening for repeatable experiences that are unique to your team. Ask about ways that your team went above and beyond to solve a challenge or when they utilized a new process or material to manage the timeline or project budget.

Tip: Prepare your questions for a project debrief that include marketing questions.

Tip: Prepare your questions for a project debrief that include marketing questions.

Ideally, your marketing professional can brainstorm with project managers and technical professionals on challenges overcome, solutions delivered and new technologies utilized. Down the road, these progress reports will support a strong project case study, award submission or testimonials. In the meantime, progress reports can fuel stories for social media or blog posts! An in-progress image coupled with a short story about how your team is moving a project forward can provide the real-life evidence that enhances your traditional service descriptions.

For more tips on marketing for engineering firms, contact us at Ingenuity.

For more tips on marketing for engineering firms, contact us at Ingenuity.

GET TO KNOW THE TEAM!


 

Marketing Content and Sales Content: What’s the Difference?

Professional services firms and associations create marketing content and sales content to reach their goals. Marketing content builds credibility while sales content persuades and asks for new business. When should you use marketing content? When should you focus on sales content?

Communications Consultant Christine Nelson gives examples of marketing content and sales content in this video. You need both types of content, but learn why marketing and sales content are not the same thing! 


If you prefer to read this content, the video transcript is below.

What is the difference between marketing content and sales content? It is sometimes confusing to tell the difference, but there is a difference.

Marketing content is written to educate and interest your potential clients. It should offer a glimpse of your knowledge, your approach, and even your firm’s personality. You will see marketing content in blog posts and social posts, on your website’s homepage, and as part of your public relations.

When should you use marketing content? You should educate and engage your audience with marketing content when they are new visitors and as they begin to consider becoming a client or a member. Sales content, on the other hand, is about influence and persuasion. It’s written in a way to get your potential clients to take action. Sales content should share the features and benefits of working with your firm or association and then ask for a conversation, a download, or attendance.

Persuasive sales content is for prospects that are deeper into their consideration. It can be in the form of sales sheets that discuss the features and benefits of your service or an assessment for a nominal fee. While marketing content establishes your credibility, sales content gets specific about your desire to work with new clients and why you are the best option.

Often marketing content and sales content work together, especially when you can’t talk to your leads in person. For example, a blog post can educate a visitor about new legislation, but at the end of the blog post you can include some sales content to invite the visitor to have a conversation or to explore your services further through an assessment. After you host marketing events such as a seminar, your sales content could be the carefully-written emails that encourage a conversation with your team.

As you can see, marketing and sales content should work together, but they aren’t the same. If you have questions about how to create the right balance between marketing and sales content, contact us at Ingenuity.

Here is an example of branding messages woven into an ad campaign for credibility and prospecting.

INVITE US TO SPEAK


 

Accounting Marketing Campfire: Content Marketing Trends

Recently, we served as the subject matter experts on a virtual networking call with the national Association for Accounting Marketing.

We picked up some tips and trends for accounting firm marketing to share with you. Here they are in no particular order:

Use content marketing scheduling tools.

Many of the accounting marketers discussed their approach to scheduling content and making sure they have a plan each month, especially when last-minute content is added.

Tools mentioned included a separate calendar in Outlook to coordinate their team and to plot in content deadlines. Others use project workflow tools such as Monday.com and Airtable.

For some marketers, it helps to create a theme for the month or quarter, tied to your marketing keywords or to the firm’s business goals. Then address the types of content you will create and how often each month.

How many blog posts is the right amount per month? We advised that frequency of any content is less important than the quality of content and your firm’s marketing goals. You will learn how frequently you should post and promote new content by what your analytics are telling you through the year. Let that data inform how you schedule content for the coming year.

Plus, it’s ok to repeat content for people who may have missed it the first time!

Make content creation competitive or required.

Marketers still struggle with the age-old challenge of getting their practice leaders or technical experts to help them develop new content, let alone write it, create a video or participate in a podcast.

The Association for Accounting Marketing members had some great answers for that issue. One idea is to make it a competition and instill the fear of missing out (FOMO) among different practice groups. Another is to request content from directors or managers rather than busy partners, those in your firm who are eager to establish their own reputations and books of business.

A final idea is to have content creation required. Top leadership can direct this activity as part of the firm culture. If each leader contributed an idea or article a month, marketing would be a whole lot easier.

Repurpose. Repurpose. Repurpose.

Once accounting marketers get ideas and/or content from the subject matter experts, they all agreed that their job is to use that content in as many ways as possible. A blog post can become a speaking topic or magazine pitch. A video script can become a blog post. A longer video can be mined for micro-video clips to share on social media, and the audio portion can become a podcast.

When practice group leaders realize that one small effort can produce massive visibility for their team, they may be more willing to offer ideas and keep the party going.

Be mindful of the experts’ preferences because some of them are better at writing while others have a great personality for video and presentations. Play to their strengths, and they will gain confidence.

Hire a business ghostwriter.

It was interesting to learn that most mid-sized accounting firms have a ghostwriter on call to help them produce the volume of content they need each month. It makes sense from a capacity standpoint, but also for the ease of interviewing subject matter experts.

The accounting marketers said that you need a professional to draw out the ideas and key points from the practice group. Your technical experts have the knowledge, but an experienced ghostwriter is focused on the marketing angle and your audience.

READ: How to develop a content marketing strategy

The Association for Accounting Marketing is the principal organization for accounting firm marketing in the U.S., and their annual conference is anticipated and actively attended. It was a privilege to participate in their “campfire” conversation about content marketing for accounting firms.

Your content marketing approach can benefit by taking time to network with other marketing leaders. At the very least, you can learn what other marketers are doing to solve common challenges, such as getting your practice leaders to create content!

Take time for networking opportunities, and let us know if you have any questions about content marketing or ghostwriting services.

You may also like our blog post about virtual networking.


 

A purple cow standing out in a field of other cows.

Copywriting: Is Your Content a Purple Cow?

Could three questions really help you get more compelling stories for your website content and content marketing? Communications Consultant Christine Nelson uses her journalism mojo to find those great stories hiding among your professionals and your work with clients. If your content marketing could use better storytelling, this is a must-see video.


If you prefer to read this content, the video transcript is below.

An accountant I interviewed quite a few years ago told me a story about slinging pizzas for his client. He had stopped into the restaurant on a very busy night. He wanted to help, and that night the client needed him to make pizzas. And so he did!

You can bet the client was grateful and stayed with that CPA. And that’s a Purple Cow story.

Purple cow is defined by Seth Godin, a US entrepreneur and bestselling author, as delivering a remarkable experience with your product or service. It’s fresh. It’s unexpected. It’s a first.

But mostly we get brown cows when we visit websites…the same old “quality service and dedicated team and responsive delivery”…and it’s why most firms can’t get lead conversion on their websites.

What if, instead, you were able to stand apart from the brown cows? Few professionals do it because it’s easier to talk about your services and not your extraordinary experiences for clients.

You need to find the real story behind the services.

Just this week, I was talking to a professional about audit services. You might think it’s the brownest cow there is. But as I asked more questions, this auditor got pretty animated. He wasn’t talking about audits. He was talking about the outcome his clients wanted and how the audited financial statements took them there.

I want to hear and write that story.  Don’t you?

To get started, here is a simple formula I use to draw out that purple cow story. Ask these three questions:

Who has it helped?

Why does it matter?

Why do others need that kind of solution?

Answering these questions gets you out of the brown cow writing and into a more direct answer to the solutions that your website’s visitors are searching for. Try it with your next eblast or blog post, and send me the link here at Ingenuity for a quick Purple Cow review!

CONTACT US AT INGENUITY ABOUT BUSINESS GHOSTWRITER SERVICES

See an example of technical engineering data transformed into our client’s project success story.


 

Cat sniffing catnip

3 Things to Make Your Association Like Cat Nip to Members

 

What if your association offerings were like cat nip to members and potential members? They rush to it. They actively engage in it. It makes them happy.

This is exactly the experience you want members to have, especially with the changing demographics of professionals. They consume information and socialize differently than they did within associations 20 years ago. If we know anything about digital marketing ideas, we know that you can adapt your outreach to become catnip to your members. Try these three things.

Help Them Browse and Shop

Your buyers are comfortable shopping online, and they do it with services just as much as with products. A GE Capital Bank “major purchase shopper study” found that 81% of buyers go online before talking to someone. They also spend an average of 79 days gathering information.

Your online presence should allow your members and potential members the ease of shopping your site, gathering information and resources and confirming the value of membership. Don’t have all your good stuff locked behind a “members only” wall. Your potential members need opportunities to browse and consider contacting you.

Some of the top resources we’re seeing on association sites include industry studies and survey reports, videos by current members and infographics that show the results and benefits of membership. Reinforce how your association is a critical avenue to their success.

See an example of a valuable industry report.

Provide News and Listen for Trends

Marketing for associations is all about being a resource. You want to be the go-to source of valuable information. You do this by providing up-to-date news, but also by listening for emerging challenges or trends.

Your social channels are invaluable for providing this service. Don’t just promote the results of your educational events or conferences. Photos and videos are great to showcase your member culture, but also post legislative news, industry breakthroughs and studies relevant to your audience.

In addition, listen to your members for issues they are concerned about. Follow their posts and identify opportunities to create events, resources or articles and videos that address those needs.

Offer Multiple Points of Interaction

As your members go about their day, they consume information in different ways. They may use their digital notebook to read the news in the morning from various digests. Then they check their social networks. Later, they may listen to a podcast while exercising or driving. Your association marketing must consider how your members consume information at different points in their day. Provide your information in those multiple formats.

If you record your webinars, for example, turn that valuable information into a podcast series. It’s easier for members and potential members to consume while they’re on the go. The technology is available to easily transform an MP4 file into audio only.

In addition, you will find that some members prefer attending virtual events even as in-person events ramp up. Keep that hybrid option available, and think about how to make the virtual experience special and impactful.

Meet your members and potential members at the crossroads of their needs and lifestyle, and you will keep them coming back for more!

For more cat nip ideas and marketing for associations, contact us at Ingenuity.

SEE HOW THIS GLOBAL ASSOCIATION IS MAINTAINING ITS COMPETITIVE POSITION AND MEMBER INTEREST.


 

Someone laying bricks

AEC Marketing Basics

There’s no question that your AEC firm is busy! The marketing department may be creating proposals left and right to take advantage of all the new business opportunities. When new business can be quickly earned through proposals, the firm’s marketing basics can be left out to dry. While proposals certainly position your firm to win new business in the present, these marketing basics will continue to position your firm for success long into the future.

Be Present Online

According to Intergrowth, 80% of major purchases start with online research. As people go online to learn about the AEC industry and your services, it’s critical that your firm can be found through an internet search. Here are some ways to make sure your firm shows up as a search result and that your brand is accurately represented online.

    • Add content to your website. When was the last time you updated information on your site? Add information about completed projects, industry trends and anything else that sets your firm apart from the competition. Write a blog about the new drone technology your firm has invested in or highlight a presentation that an employee gave at a recent conference. By creating valuable, educational content, you educate your potential clients and become a trusted thought leader within your industry.

Here are a few content ideas to incorporate into your marketing strategy:

    1. Blog posts
    2. eBooks, worksheets and templates
    3. Project photos and videos

SEO Tip: Adding information to your website helps your firm stand out on search engines like Google. Search engines are more likely to highlight websites that are maintained and updated regularly.

    • Regularly post to social media. Social media is an extension of your website. Use these platforms to engage with partners, clients and to showcase your work. Social media can also be a great tool to retain and attract talent to your firm by highlighting firm news and culture events.

SEO Tip: An active social media account that links to your website also improves your chances of being a top search result on Google or any other search engine. We recommending posting to social media at least 1-2 times a week.

DOWNLOAD: Check out these easy tips to improve your website’s SEO

Email Marketing

Email marketing continues to be one of the most powerful ways to reach warm leads and convert them into clients. By emailing your contact list consistently, your firm stays top of mind. Find an e-newsletter schedule that works best for you and stick to it. We recommend sending an email at least once a month to communicate with your contact list.

Topics to include within your future newsletters:

    • Award Recognition – Highlight recent awards your firm has received, or projects you’ve completed. This showcases your firm’s experience and instills trust in your brand.
    • Webinar Invitations – Whether you’re hosting a webinar or one of the firm’s employees is participating as a speaker in one, promote it via email. This positions your firm as a thought leader within the industry. Webinars are a great lead generation tool!
    • Content Updates – Highlight the new content you’ve added to the website. New blogs, video or resources are always popular to share and will drive traffic back to your website to learn more about the firm.

VIDEO: 5 Email Marketing Tips for Lead Generation

Tell Your Story

Your firm exists to help clients reach their goals. Case studies are a powerful tool to help others understand the work you do and highlights successes. Rather than tell prospective clients how you can help them reach their goals, show them. Tell the story from start to finish, but highlight the client as the focal point. Your case studies should answer the following questions:

    • Who is the client and what do they do?
    • What were the client’s goals?
    • What were their needs?
    • How did you satisfy those needs and help meet the client’s goals?

But don’t stop there! Follow up with this client to ask them how your firm’s work benefited them. What solutions do they feel like your firm provided? 

Testimonials

This leads us to our last point. When discussing previous work with clients, collect a testimonial about your relationship. Share these testimonials far and wide. Share on your website, via social media, in newsletters and in case studies. Testimonials connect with future clients in a meaningful, personal way. Others can relate to a testimonial and will work with your firm to have a similar experience. 

Your AEC firm is busy, but don’t push these marketing essentials to the side any longer. They continue to be the foundation of your firm’s success and support future growth opportunities. Proposals are the sprinkle on top. Position your firm for longevity by investing time and energy into the marketing basics that will continuously position your firm as a leader and innovator within your industry. 

Looking for more guidance on marketing basics? Contact us at Ingenuity.

DOWNLOAD: THIS AEC DEBRIEF CHECKLIST HELPS BUILD LONG-LASTING RELATIONSHIPS. HERE’S HOW.


 

Desk with Laptop showing video conference

Virtual Networking: It’s Here to Stay!

 

Virtual networking provides countless advantages to boost your business development strategy. Not only can you form long-term relationships with potential clients and business partners, but you get to connect at your own convenience.

Taking advantage of virtual networking allows us to connect with anyone from anywhere. There’s no longer a limit to how far we will travel to meet prospects, or a need to coordinate travel days into our busy work schedule. It also allows us to connect with others in different time zones, and then take our children to soccer practice later in the afternoon. The new virtual world we live in allows professionals within any industry to maintain a personal and work life balance.

Virtual networking is here to stay simply because of the convenience factor. Here’s how to take advantage of this new way of doing business.

Virtual Networking Can Still Be Personal

Just like you would talk about weather or traffic when meeting a prospect in person, you still need to add these casual conversational pieces into your virtual discussions. In other words, don’t make it all about work. Ask about a painting or photo someone has behind them during the video conference call. Ask them questions about their weekend or their hobbies. Side conversations like this make networking fun, memorable and personable. It’s these types of conversations that allow you to form long-lasting, valuable relationships with potential leads that turn into loyal clients.

Add variety to how you connect with your prospects. With the year 2020 behind us, you’ve probably heard or experienced what we often call “Zoom fatigue”. It’s true that being on video or on a long call can be exhausting, especially when you’re trying to separate personal and work life. Ask your prospects if they prefer to meet on camera or over the phone today. Who knows, you may find prospects in your local area who would prefer to meet at a coffee shop.

Other ways to stop top-of-mind with prospects is to share resources. After knowing your prospects interests and appetite for your services, share podcasts, blogs, videos or other resources you’ve found to be helpful. Connecting like this via email allows you to be seen as a valuable resource, helping the potential client to understand certain topics or gain industry insight.

PODCAST: THE MAGIC OF VIRTUAL NETWORKING

Virtual Networking Adds Flexibility to your Work Schedule

We now have the opportunity to network with people far and wide, whenever it works best for our work or personal schedules. You may find that fitting virtual networking into your busy work schedule is easier than ever. Maybe for you, scheduling multiple video conference calls in one afternoon allows you to cross multiple necessary discussions off your business development to-do list quickly and efficiently.

It may seem difficult to initially connect with new prospects. Once you have their contact information, offer a brief 10 to 15-minute phone call. Brief phone calls remain less intimidating than video conferencing. This phone call can be used to get to know what the prospect’s needs are, what they are looking for and how you can help. From there, having a follow up discussion via video can be a more beneficial use of time and provide an opportunity to share informed insight to what specific services or information the prospect is looking for.

Connecting virtually also allows you have to have multiple resources at your fingertips. When meeting virtually with a potential client, you can have their website up on your computer screen while you ask questions about their operations. Maybe you even skim through their LinkedIn profile during your discussion to speak to specific work-experience or skills the prospect has.

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Stick to the Basics

One of the keys to networking is your follow through. Even when connecting virtually, follow up via email or phone to check in with the lead. Ask how they are doing, if they have any questions for you and maybe even bring up a topic of conversation you had together during the call. This is another opportunity to connect with the prospect on a personal level, and form a loyal working relationship with them.

When connecting virtually, be attentive. Give the prospect your entire attention by being in a quiet room with limited distractions and good phone service or a strong internet connection. Silence phone or computer notifications, just as you would in an in-person business meeting.

We get it. Life happens, and sometimes you will need to reschedule virtual meetings. Even though virtual networking is convenient because we can do it from our couch, the airport or the local coffee shop, being appreciative of the prospect’s time is critically important. Don’t forget to communicate in advance if you must reschedule.

The advantages to virtual networking are limitless. It brings ease to your work day, adds flexibility to your business development strategy and expands who you can reach for future business opportunities. If you haven’t added this into your business development strategy, what are you waiting for?! Take advantage of these opportunities, yet keep the foundation of networking skills in place. With these tips in mind, your business development strategy will reap the benefits of virtual networking long into the future.  

Thinking about hosting more virtual events to support virtual networking? Check out our blog post, How to Leverage Virtual Events in 2021