Like many professional services firms, TheTidewater Group, in Monroe, Conn., has found that a slow but steady approach topublicizing their Web site is paying off.

After two months of being online, the Tidewater site is having a measurable impact forthe executive search and management consulting company. "I've noticedthere's a significant increase in e-mail, there are more paper résumés coming in,more faxes and phone calls, and we're being contacted by more outplacementcompanies," says Executive Recruiter Eileen Bednarz.

They've been online for about two months with ISP, also in Monroe. "We deal with companies all across theU.S., and we deal with a lot of outplacement firms," Bednarz explains. "A lotmore companies have e-mail these days, and we figured it would be greater source ofreference, for both candidates and companies, if we had an online presence."

Tidewater's payoff is coming mostly from existing clients who are sending more worktheir way now that they're online. Here's what Tidewater did to make it happen:

  • Once online, they sent out a formal invitation for all their clients tocome visit their site.
  • They committed to updating their site frequently to give their clientsa good reason to keep coming back
  • They include their URL in all of their communications, from businesscards to newsletter to their letterhead stationery.
  • They made it a point to train everyone in their office on using the Internet,and kept them all involved in the creation of the site. That started an internal buzz,which radiated out to clients -- and now to the general public.

"These folks aren't out there pumping their site every day, the way aconsumer merchandiser might be," says Internet marketing consultant David Sims,"but that's not something a serious professional services firm would evenconsider doing, under any circumstances. They're slowly building an awareness of thesite and proving that a company with a strong client base can increase its volume ofbusiness overall by being on the Web - even without extensive promotions."

"Many outplacement companies say, "'It's wonderful you're online now," Bednarz says. "We're easier to find."

For many professional services firms, says Sims, who has also worked with giants like Ernst & Young and Deloitte & Touche, "aggressive promotionsaren't the right way to go. But slow and steady, serious and respectable promotionswill have a strong, fairly fast yield. The first step is to let people you do businesswith today know you're online. The next step is to let your prospects knowyou're online. After you've done that, you'll find that a solid site withgood contact information will begin to yield new business."

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