[IMGCAP(1)]If you are like many firms, at some point you will hit a roadblock in your growth. Individual partner participation in business development won’t be enough to reach and sustain your growth goals. Individual selling is important, but there is only so much time each person has to identify, build and pursue opportunities—even if those opportunities are coming from referrals.

Sustaining growth rates requires more than just getting partners involved in business development. It also requires a strong inbound marketing strategy that can help the firm develop more opportunities than it would have the time to develop otherwise.

How inbound marketing works

Inbound marketing can seem overwhelming and a little scary. Just like business development or an audit, there are some clearly defined steps and a process. Below are the six key steps every firm needs to get started with inbound marketing.

1.    Create/maintain a powerful website

Your website is critical in inbound marketing. It is a centralized hub for the rest of your marketing and business development efforts. It needs to be scalable, easily maintained and mobile-friendly.

2.    Create content
If you aren’t creating your own content, you need to start. Inbound marketing in CPA firms needs some sort of content. A landing page with a “contact us” form will not cut it.

3.    Generate traffic
Once you have developed your content, you need to generate traffic. After all, people can’t buy what they don’t know exists. Today, many inbound marketing strategies are rooted in digital channels to generate traffic (or visibility). However, we find that CPA firms should also consider offline channels that drive people online for increasing visibility.

4.    Convert traffic to leads
The next critical step, and the one most firms fail to do, is to convert your traffic to leads. Marketing efforts often generate high visibility and brand awareness, but fall short of turning this into leads.

Converting traffic to leads requires more than a generic web page. It requires optimized landing pages that help your visitor take the next step by clearly telling them what to do. (For example: “Download this white paper.”)

5.    Convert leads to sales
Once a visitor engages with you and takes an action you have clearly defined, you can then begin to convert them to sales. Most inbound marketing strategies outline behavior to their buying process so they have a clear indication of where someone might be. Once a potential buyer is in buying mode, they enter the sales process, which is where the partners step in.

The process doesn’t stop here, and it is by no means as linear as we have presented it. There are many things that will impact success with inbound marketing, from your content and social strategy to your landing pages and understanding of your markets buying process.

Sarah Johnson is the chief growth strategist with Inovautus Consulting, a firm that works with CPA, law and professional service firms to help them grow more effectively, and author of “Practical Ideas for Growth,” a blog dedicated to growing professional firms. Connect with Sarah at 773-208-7170, sjohnson@inovautus.com, or www.linkedin.com/in/sjjohnson