An excellent post by Matt Brazil caught my eye recently. It's provocatively entitled Are Social Networks the Last Nail in the Coffin for Cold Calling?
Now, of course, the increased prevalance of social media (and Matt includes blogs, articles, podcasts, etc. in that group) aren't going to completely kill off cold calling. But Matt's point – based on a lead generation experiment he ran – is that for many businesses they may now present a better return on investment than cold calling.
In the case of professional services: article writing, seminars and speeches have always been a fantastic business development device for the larger “names” in the business. They provide advanced clues for potential buyers to the credibility and knowledge of the consultant, lawyer, accountant, engineer or architect who wrote the article or delivered the speech. Given the intangible nature of professional services; those clues are often an immensely powerful lever to at least get the professional engaged in a dialogue with the potential client.
Historically, speech-making and article writing has often been the preserve of the well-known individual or the major firm. Most people read a small number of quality journals so competition for placement was high and the chances of a small firm or unknown individual getting a high degree of visibility was slim.
But like many things in life, the internet has changed all that. Not only is it much easier for good quality content to get published on a plethora of sites and blogs; but potential clients have changed the way they find material. Nowadays they don't subscribe to a small number of quality journals in the hope that something of relevance will appear every few months – they search for what they want, when they want it.
So equipped with some half-decent SEO and an interesting niche to write about; smaller firms and less well-known professionals can replicate the marketing tactics of the industry giants.
Of course, actually being able to produce quality material that really is going to raise your credibility is a whole different story. But at least today the barriers to publishing and being found have all but fallen.