If there is ever a time to avoid marketing blunders, it's in the throes of a global recession. But there is one mistake that is both very common and avoidable — and it often happens with your best customers.

When asked, between 60-75% of a typical firm's best customers report that they don't know all of the services the firm has to offer. When we follow up with a question about what additional services they wish the firm could provide, we usually find that 70-80% of these desired services are already offered by the firm. But their clients don't know it! Chances are, your clients don't know all that you do, either.

We've found three key reasons this happens:

  1. Your clients are struggling to keep up with their responsibilities and priorities. And keeping track of what you do isn't one of them. That's your job.
  2. Many professional services firms rely on project managers to recognize new client opportunities. At first blush, this makes sense — they have the most direct contact with clients, after all. Project managers, however, are focused on keeping engagements on track — not on building business. In fact one of life's relentless realities (right up there with gravity) is that when operations conflict with business development, operations always wins.
  3. Your firm gets pigeonholed in the client's mind. The client is aware only of what you do for them today. That perception can be modified, but it won't happen on its own. You need to show clients how your firm can help them solve emerging problems. But the education has to start with understanding a client's needs, not just repeating your offerings and hoping something will stick.

It happens all the time: a current client hires one of your competitors because they don't know you have the expertise to solve their problem. This scenario, while common, is avoidable. And in a tough economy, you really can't afford to let this happen to you.