Tuesday, February 26, 2008

What's the Primary Purpose of your Consulting Firm's Web Site?

Woohoo, look at all the cool services we provide! We're awesome! Did you see all the companies we've worked for? We won awards too!

Weeeaaaaahhh . Wrong. You just missed the boat, pal.

What does a consulting firm do? They solve problems. How do they solve problems? Occasionally they leverage products but for the most part, consulting firms solve problems with smart, experienced, motivated people. The industry-accepted term is intellectual capital.

So, what's the most important thing to a consulting firm? Well, cash flow and profitability rank number one but where does cash flow come from? That's right: services. And who executes on those services? People.

When is the last time you got a call like this? "Well, I was searching the Internet and your firm came up so I thought I'd give you a call." Never happens. I expect anyone handling calls for a consulting firm wouldn't even know how to route this call. Business operates on relationships. If I'm a company in need of help, I'll first contact folks I know and ask them for advice on finding services. Or, perhaps my company is big enough to leverage a procurement department. But I'm sure not going to waste my time on Google looking for service providers.

If this is all true, why do consulting firms focus their web sites so heavily on marketing to potential clients? I believe that's a mistake and a huge missed opportunity.

Consulting firm web sites should focus on acquiring talent. The target audience is talented, smart folks who are looking for a new opportunity. Everything about the site from the home page to employee blogs should scream: "We're the best place for you to work!" The site should be an extension of the firm. It should be as personal as possible--a hand extended and a warm smile to potential candidates sincerely saying, "We're absolutely thrilled to be speaking with you today."

Along with overall theme, here are a few elements I see as must-have's for a great site:
  • Personal profiles - get to know the folks. Here's what Lindsey does during a typical day. Cool, huh?
  • Culture expo - photos from the last outing. Hey, I could picture having a lot of fun with these folks.
  • Staff blogs - what excites these folks? What are they passionate about? What sets them apart?
  • Events - where are they speaking? What have they published? What can I learn from this firm?
  • Communities - how do they make their presence felt? What circles do they travel? How do they contribute to the community and make us all stronger?
Chances are, the potential candidate already established a connection point with your firm. They saw someone speak, they read a published article (you are presenting and publishing, right?), they attended an industry event you sponsored, etc. You've got them checking out the firm but now you need to sell them. You need to be so compelling that they become convinced they need to create an "A" task of reaching out to your firm and prompting for a meeting, or a lunch, or a coffee.

There's no better way to bridge the gap between initial connection point and establishing a relationship than an effective web site. Stop targeting potential clients and start treating your web site's primary audience as potential candidates. It will fuel the flow of candidates into your ranks.


Arnulfo Wing said...

I 100% agree with your point of view. It is always refreshing to peek into other companies's cultures and not just the marketing stuff they put into their website.

moke said...

great point. I have been meaning to build one of those website thingies for my company. going on a dozen years; now, its kind of a joke that I build them for clients, but don't have one myself. :)