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The New Science of Professional Services Marketing

This is a recap of a webinar by the same name. You can download it here.

We just celebrated the release of the second edition of Professional Services Marketing (Wiley) written with Mike Schultz and John Doer of RAIN Group.

One of the real benefits of writing the second edition was that it gave us all a chance to step back and think about what has changed in professional services marketing over the last five years. As it turns out, quite a bit.

What’s New in Professional Services Marketing?

Here is just a sampling of some of the most recent trends that are reshaping the way professional services firms market themselves.

  • There is a new generation of buyers that has grown up with the Internet
  • Technology has made communications easier and less costly
  • People have become accustomed to working remotely with colleagues, suppliers, customers and yes… professional service providers
  • The Internet culture has developed an expectation of transparency, free education on important issues or new products and services and the ability to find the “best solution” quickly and easily
  • This has given specialists a greater advantage
  • Content marketing has accelerated dramatically
  • Online branding and marketing are now “must haves”

These are just a few of the obvious changes. The list goes on. This has given rise to a more empirical approach to professional services marketing.

Birth of a Science

Can professional services marketing now be thought of as a science?  Consider these developments:

  • Marketing has become much more trackable
  • Automation has made it more systematic and replicable
  • As a result, more and more aspects of marketing can be tested
  • The research around human behavior in buying situations has become much more sophisticated
  • We can even assess networking via social media
  • There is a growing body of research that informs today’s marketer as never before

The result is less guessing and more research-driven guidance. As a profession, we are learning what works and how to make it work better.

Not convinced? Consider some of the knowledge we now have at our disposal.

What We Know Now

1.  We know which strategies drive growth and profitability
There are specific business strategies (such as specialization) that are associated with much faster firm growth and higher levels of profitability. Many firms are unaware of these findings. And many firms hold misguided views based on their limited personal experience. Remember, personal experience is what tells us that the sun revolves around the earth.

2. Researching your target clients grows your firm faster and boosts profits
Anyone who thinks they know their target client group well in the absence of research is probably kidding themselves. More importantly, our research shows that they are depriving their firm of growth and added profit.

3. Online marketing also drives faster growth and higher profits
Firms that get 40% or more of their leads online grow 4X faster and are 2X more profitable. This can be another competitive advantage for your firm.

4. We know which strategies and techniques work best online
This is another tremendous benefit of the growing science of professional services marketing. You don’t have to guess what works. The research points the way to online success.

5. We know how a strong brand drives value
The role a strong professional services brand plays in attracting new clients and increasing fees is also informed by research. The whole area of branding is becoming more scientific and less a matter of opinion.

6. Even sales are becoming better understood
We now have research showing the impact of certain behaviors on winning a professional services sale. Winners do things differently than those firms coming in second place.

Now, I certainly don’t mean to imply that we know everything there is to know about professional services marketing. Far from it.

But we do understand much more than many people realize. And perhaps even more importantly, we now have the tools to learn more and more. Strategies can be tested. Decisions can be made on the basis of empirical results rather than opinion and tradition.

This is the start of the new science of professional services marketing.

 

New Book: Professional Services Marketing

Author: Lee Frederiksen, Ph.D. Who wears the boots in our office? That would be Lee, our managing partner, who suits up in a pair of cowboy boots every day and drives strategy and research for our clients. With a Ph.D. in behavioral psychology, Lee is a former researcher and tenured professor at Virginia Tech, where he became a national authority on organizational behavior management and marketing. He left academia to start up and run three high-growth companies, including an $80 million runaway success story.

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