When discussing inbound marketing with those of you in the professional services sector, it’s very common for the question of professional introducers to come up.
Inbound marketing takes an investment at the start of a project, likely to be higher than the investment you currently place on a monthly basis with a professional introducer (if you use one).
This naturally presents the question: why make the investment in inbound, if an introducer is continuing to provide you with good leads?
Here are some elements to consider as you weigh up your options.
Using a professional introducer is renting a house. Inbound is buying one.
A professional introducer has the infrastructure to deliver leads. This may take several forms. For example, an introducer may have spent years building up their personal network. Or they may have spent quite a bit of money on SEO, developing a website which attracts enquiries from Google, which they pass to you. Whatever the infrastructure, it will have taken them time and money to set up and develop their lead generation methodology. They then lease this methodology (and, more importantly, the outcomes) to you.
You can probably see where this metaphor is going. The above is a rental arrangement. Stop paying for the owner’s infrastructure and you lose access to all of the benefits. You’re essentially left with nothing.
Creating your own inbound marketing engine is the equivalent of creating an introducer’s infrastructure. Like the introducer, there will be some time at the start to effectively put the bricks and mortar together and get your ‘house’ ready for human habitation. When you’ve done that, it’s yours to own and keep. Forever, if you want to.
Renting means you miss out on some leads to other renters
This doesn’t warrant a lengthy explanation, because we all know this happens. Professional introducers get a certain number of leads. They don’t pass them all to you for the £400 per month that you pay them. Some go elsewhere to others, who also pay £400 a month.
Again, it’s similar to a rental agreement. You are paying for access to one of the vast portfolio the introducer owns. Inbound is about building your own portfolio.
Controlling your specification
A good introducer will take a description from you of the ideal client you’re looking for. They’ll then try to find this client for you.
How often does your introducer manage to do that?
The good ones are typically very good at getting you the exact lead you want, but even then, there are often conversations along the lines of ‘he almost matches your profile but…’.
This is to lead generation as wall colour is to a rental home. You don’t have all that much control over the colour scheme of your rental and it’s the same with your leads from a professional introducer. At some point you will get something that doesn’t quite match.
Inbound gives you this control. If you attract a lead that you don’t want to pursue, it doesn’t cost you any extra: you just don’t pursue it! You could even do a colleague or partner business a favour and pass it on to them. You’ve become the lead producer!
When we work with clients on inbound there are three stages of lead qualification. The first is generating the lead (any lead). The second is checking that the lead matches your broad description of who you are looking to talk to. The third is your assessment of whether you’ve been able to talk to the lead and agree that it matches your target client. Only when all three are complete has inbound generated an opportunity for you.
Will that result in fewer genuine opportunities for you? Possibly. Will those opportunities be guaranteed to be someone you want to spend your time with in order to grow your business? Definitely!
I can’t extend the house metaphor to this one, so forgive me for dropping that here.
Inbound creates ‘out of the blue’ opportunities. Lead introducers do not.
You are guaranteed to have to pay for every introducer lead your introducer passes to you. Inbound leads, with a mature inbound system established, can be more or less free.
As you grow your inbound marketing ecosystem, word about your business will spread. It’s likely that, along with any introducers you use, informal referrals are part of how you gain clients.
Inbound marketing takes informal referrals online. It encourages people to contact you, to share your presence and content, to recommend and otherwise promote you to others. Leads come in from this naturally and organically, as enquiries through your website and over the phone. It’s great to see leads coming in from a specific inbound campaign we launch for a client. It’s even better to watch enquiries through their ‘contact’ page naturally grow and grow over time.
Building client value
A final one to consider.
Inbound marketing (in order to generate leads) involves making your website look good. Evidencing the great work you do with clients. Helping clients with their questions through blogs and guides. Becoming more personable and visible through social media and video. And lots more besides.
Paying a professional introducer does none of these things.
All of the above facets on inbound marketing help you to look after your clients, as well as create new client opportunities. Inbound = helping client retention and growing your firm.