Irish firms miss out on internet cash-flow bonus

28 Aug 2006

Ireland’s community of professional services firms are losing business to more tech savvy US counterparts because they are failing to create information products that they could sell online and create new cash flow opportunities, new research indicates.

The country’s consultants, lawyers, accountants, career coaches, recruitment consultants and other operating professional services firms are losing clients to North American counterparts because they are failing to turn what they know into cash flow and create information products that they could sell online.

With customers and consumers heading to the internet for immediate answers to their problems, increasingly professional services firms are losing out to competitors overseas, claims Krishna De, managing director of Dublin-based Oneocean, and a business development and personal branding strategist.

According to research undertaken by De, less than 3pc of European-based professional services companies are leveraging their expertise through the creation of products that they are losing market share to North American competitors as clients turn to the internet for resources.

“Irish professional services firms are losing market share to North American businesses as prospective clients search on the internet for solutions to help them. We are in a time where consumers are time poor and are searching online for immediate solutions,” she explains.

De has been creating information products and programmes for the last 20 years and in the past 12 months alone has taught more than 300 service professionals how to create profitable and lead generating information products.

The majority of people are not getting a return on investment from their website, comments De; most people have passive sites like a brochure, when in fact they need to nurture it and continue to tend to it.

“If you have a site you have to consider it as part of your marketing collateral and marketing plan,” she explains. People can invest a lot of money into a website, and one of the things that can go wrong is return on investment.

De argues that professional services companies are not like other companies: “If you go to BMW you can touch a BMW … if you’re selling a professional service you’re trading your time for money.” One of the things that happens when people go searching online, she says, is they buy a solution because they want a fast answer.

Companies have to give site visitors something that is compelling, something they have to sign up for. The key to this, she says, is “‘What’s in it for me?’ You’ve got to think about why you would want to sign up to a newsletter.”

Newsletters don’t do it for many people – why would they want to sign up for another mail to clutter their inbox? She says companies could explore creating more products such as e-courses, e-books, audio programmes, a CD and so on. “They are very simple to create.” Another advantage is that people can have a business that sells while they’re sleeping.

“Many people are in awe of their competitors who have created audio and video products or have authored books. It is a fact that these products enhance your credibility with prospective clients and provide for an additional revenue stream. However, they are not as difficult, costly or time consuming to produce with the advent of new technology.

“It is difficult to portray to potential clients the value of your services and expertise if you are a professional services firm – not only are you trading time for money, but you are selling your intellectual expertise and it is difficult for clients to assess one business from a seemingly similar one. Information products immediately position you as the expert in your field.”

Oneocean has just launched a series of one-day workshops for professional services firms, consultants, coaches and professional speakers in Ireland that will be held in Dublin and Cork.

By Elaine Larkin