Written by: John Tyreman
Here at Hinge, we’ve studied over 11,000 professional services firms and their clients. Most recently, we published our first annual High Growth Study of 526 professional services firms. A comparison of high-growth firms (at least 20% growth year over year) to other firms highlighted several best practices and techniques your B2B firm may want to adopt.
In an earlier post, I went into detail about the five B2B marketing metrics every firm should track . This post addresses the five marketing techniques that provide the greatest return on a firm’s marketing investment. But first, let me bring you up to speed on how we made the calculation.
The Return on Marketing Investment Calculation
There is no such thing as “free” marketing. Like any other facet of a business, marketing requires an investment. But investment in marketing can often times be hard to quantify in dollars or percentage of revenue. Time spent on marketing activities is easily lost in the ledger.
Taking both time and money into account, Hinge quantified marketing investment on a 0–10 scale. We also used the same scale to measure the effect of each technique. We calculated return on marketing investment as the difference between the impact received and the effort invested ( Impact – Effort ).
Top 5 High-Return Techniques
The five techniques with the highest return on marketing investment are not necessarily the easiest, nor do they have the greatest impact on a firm. Rather, they are the techniques that produce the greatest return for the level of effort they require.
1) Speaking engagements.
Speaking engagements require a significant level of effort. The hours traveling to an event and preparing to speak aren’t billable, and securing a speaking slot is often a pay-to-play deal. The effect, however, makes this marketing technique worth the investment.
According to our research, we found speaking engagements to have the greatest average impact among all marketing techniques used by professional services firms. They present a great opportunity to grow your network, demonstrate your expertise, and employ other traditional marketing techniques.
As the digital equivalent of speaking engagements, it’s no surprise webinars made this list. Although they require minimal effort, webinars had the highest return on marketing investment among all digital techniques.
Webinars can be broadcasted from your office or even your own home, giving you added flexibility. Integrating a webinar with social media can also encourage audience participation, building visibility and reputation simultaneously.
3) Guest blogging.
Guest blogging has become a widely accepted best practice for increasing both the visibility and expertise of professional service providers. The level of effort required for guest blogging is similar to writing for your firm’s blog, but yields greater benefits and can be easily incorporated into your overall content marketing strategy.
There are two benefits that separate guest blogging from blogging on your firm’s website: a) You get in front of a new audience and b) you build relevant links to improve search engine optimization (SEO). These additional benefits are what pushed guest blogging onto the list of marketing techniques with the highest return on marketing investment.
4) Direct mail.
When was the last time you picked up a pen and wrote a letter to your clients or prospects? If you can’t remember, you may want to consider doing so. Handwritten letters coupled with marketing collateral can be a great way to show a personal touch to your prospects and clients, and requires minimal additional cost. (As of April, the cost of US postage for first class letters decreased from $0.49 to $0.47. )
This direct approach was also a traditional marketing technique frequently employed by high-growth firms. Requiring minimal effort, a physical piece of mail can stand out from a cluttered email inbox.
5) Online advertising.
Over the course of the past few years, discerning between organic search results and paid advertisements could be difficult. Recently, Google placed an “Ad” disclaimer on paid search results.
Even though a web-searcher can clearly see a result is an ad, paid results still appear at the top of a search inquiry. It’s been observed that users are more likely to click a link on the first page than to venture deeper into the search results. According to HubSpot, 75% of users never scroll past the first page of search results .
While it can quickly become a costly investment, a highly targeted PPC campaign can produce qualified web traffic when implemented correctly.