Our recently released study on High Growth professional services firms identified high performers that were growing almost 9 times faster than average firms, were 50% more profitable yet spent less than average on business development. In previous posts we discussed the counterintuitive strategies they employ and their unusually strong client targeting. Now let's open their marketing tool kit and see how they leverage their limited budgets.

The first thing to note is that the High Growth firms already have a strong advantage even before they start. Because they tend to specialize and have a well defined target client they have fewer people to reach. They also know a lot more about those potential clients, their needs and priorities. The same amount of money spent on reaching 1,000 target prospects goes a lot further than if you are trying to reach 100,000. Further, if know in detail what those 1,000 prospects experience every day and what their priorities are, it is much easier to craft a message that is relevant and compelling.

Here are six tools favored by High Growth firms:

  1. Partnering with other organizations who are trying to reach the same group of clients. Often they will have related products or services that are noncompetitive with your. This can add credibility and reach to your efforts.
  2. Website upgrades. Your website is the first place potential clients go. If it is amateurish, out of date, or does not communicate your message you are probably leaving sales on the table.
  3. Referrals. Everyone recognizes the importance of referrals. But High Growth firms put more emphasis on them. This is easier to pull off if you have a narrowly defined target audience where key players tend to know each.
  4. Using outside experts and consultants. You know your business well. But are you an expert on professional services marketing? Do you have enough time in your day to devote to strategy, planning and execution? It seems that High Growth firms leverage their limited resources by using outside help.
  5. Sales training for non-sales staff. Non-sales staff is a resource that most firms squander. They are your product in a professional services firm. Use them to spread your message and train them to recognize opportunities when they encounter them.
  6. Personal visits to prospects. This is a powerful and expensive tool. It makes sense to use it when you know your target group well and the prospect is well qualified. If you have a competitive advantage, a personal visit can seal the deal.

These are not the only tools High Growth firms use, of course. But they can help you drive home a well-thought-out strategy.

There is one final thing at which CEOs of High Growth firms tend to excel. That's the lowly “elevator pitch.” They are more likely to give a clear, easy-to-understand rendition of what their firm does, who they do it for, and why clients choose them (a.k.a. competitive advantage). It's hard for someone to make a referral if they don't know what you do or who you serve.