For management consulting firms, finding new sources of business is an increasingly urgent challenge. But today’s leading firms are rising to the occasion by making transformative use of their websites.

When we surveyed over 500 professional services firms to ask about their biggest marketing priorities and business challenges in 2015, over 72% of firms identified “attracting and developing new business” as their top challenge for the coming year. But it’s an even higher priority for management consulting firms, cited by 81% of respondents in the industry.

Now, this statistic isn’t particularly surprising if you’re familiar with the industry. Repeat engagements in management consulting are less common and less frequent than other professional service areas, so the pressure to generate new business is higher. So how do firms attract more leads and acquire more clients? Our research shows that a firm’s website is playing a more important role than ever before.

First Impressions Matter

More often than not, your website is the first impression a potential client gets of your firm. From what buyers find online, they’re likely to pass several quick judgments that can make or break their interest. An early impression of your website can quickly show a prospective client what league you’re in, simply based on how your firm is portrayed. The design, ease of use, and clarity of messaging give your firm some control over their reactions.

Even though there are countless ways to design your website, there are two key factors that are important to remember: how your website conveys your firm’s culture and how it reflects your brand.Free Professional Services Website Planning Guide

Buyers want to come away from your website with an idea of what it would be like to work with you. They want to know who you are and what you stand for, and more importantly, how your firm can solve their challenges. Because of this, it is important that your website presents a polished and professional first impression – including clear demonstration of your expertise through educational content. If this isn’t the case, you may be turning away potential clients before you even have a chance to showcase your services.

How Your Website Affects Referrals

Many folks make referrals for management consulting firms based on factors other than direct experience – factors like your reputation or expertise. Often, they might develop a feel for your expertise through sources like the educational content on your website. But if your site isn’t giving off a strong first impression, you could stand to lose out on potential business.

In order to learn more about how referral marketing works today, we collected data from 523 professional services firms. We found that 51.9% of respondents rule out referrals before even speaking to the firm in question – and 29.6% identified an unimpressive website as the main reason for ruling out a firm. This means that, despite being referred to your firm, a large portion of prospective clients will rule you out if your website doesn’t impress them.

These statistics make sense, especially considering our previous research, which found that more than 80% of buyers look at a firm’s website to “check them out.” This evaluation stage is crucial to getting prospective buyers to the next phase in the journey. If your website isn’t on par with what a buyer expects from your firm, they won’t waste time considering your services any further.

But how do you know if your website is helping to build your credibility or if it’s time for a refresh?

SEE ALSO: Does Your Professional Services Firm Need a High Performance or a Branding Website? 

Is Your Website Up to Snuff?

First and foremost, users come to a management consulting website expecting an easy and intuitive experience. Make sure that the information that prospective buyers would be interested in is easy to find so they can navigate through your website without unnecessary frustration. A key part of this is making sure that visitors to your website can easily access your information regardless of the device they are using. With the ubiquity of mobile browsing today, a responsive or mobile-friendly website is a must for a positive user experience.

Next, visitors to your website expect you to provide valuable educational content. They want to find a blog that speaks to their unique experiences and instills a sense of confidence in your firm’s ability to solve their problems. Updating your content regularly demonstrates a commitment to informing your patrons, so make sure you maintain a consistent blogging schedule.

In addition to informative content, prospective clients also want to see recent examples of your work. Make sure your case studies, project files, photos, and videos stay up-to-date and representative of your firm’s current portfolio.

If your website seems to have fallen behind the times,  you need to consider an update now. A website refresh is the perfect opportunity to consider what kind of first impression your website is giving and how you can better embody your brand.

You don’t want to miss out on attracting new business before you even get the chance to speak to a buyer, simply because they were turned off by your website. Carefully consider what your website says about your firm – and make any necessary changes to increase your appeal.

Remember, you may only get one chance to make a positive first impression on a buyer. Especially given the pressures of the management consulting marketplace, you don’t want an outdated and disorganized website to be the reason you don’t earn their business.

And to learn more about creating a website, download a free copy of The Professional Services Website Planning Guide.

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