Professional services firms have unique needs when it comes to marketing. Not only do they provide highly technical services that require a unique level of understanding to properly market, they also are often structured so that the bulk of resources are invested in delivering client work, not necessarily on winning work. However, keeping a pipeline full is critical to the firm’s survival. Achieving that full pipeline with limited resources requires focused and efficient marketing that truly helps attract and retain the right clients.
Because of the unique nature of the professional services firm and the high value of work they provide, there are four key areas that are of the utmost importance in creating and delivering the right marketing.
The four pillars of professional services marketing
First and foremost a professional services firm needs to establish and maintain a quality and cohesive brand. This is more than just the right messaging and stationery. Every interaction a client has with your firm needs to convey the quality and experience the client should expect and the value you bring to the table. This is where details matter. From the imagery on the walls in your office, to the way you package and present proposals, every message, image, and tangible element needs to convey the quality and value you bring to the table (and the price you want clients to pay for it). If you cut corners or go cheap in any area that the customer can see or experience, it sends a signal to them about the value you provide and the amount of care you bring to the work you do.
The value of your firm is largely based on the knowledge, experience, and expertise you bring to the table. Creating informational products and content not only lets you showcase that expertise; they also give the client a sense of what it’s like to work with you. The more that you educate, advise, and guide the industry and prospects with your marketing, the more clients will trust you and seek you out as a provider of choice. Investing in blogs, white papers, presentations, public speaking, and other forms of publishing help drive that thought leadership into the public domain.
Customer Relations Management
In most professional services firms, there is a tension between selling the work and doing the work, as most of the sellers are also the doers. This is why systems for ongoing touchpoints and communication are critical to not only maintaining a solid pipeline but also to maintaining the client relationship throughout the life of the client, not just the life of a single project. The right systems automate many touchpoints while creating a personalized experience for the client. This allows the seller-doer to stay focused on high touch, high value interactions and activity without sacrificing the sales process.
The Total Customer Experience
One area where most professional services firms fail is in understanding, serving, and marketing to the entire customer journey. Too often they focus their energy only from the point where the client buys the service up to the point where the project is done or the client leaves. The client journey begins long before they engage with your firm and can often continue after they leave. Both points are opportunities to capture new prospects early on, before the competition knows there is a prospect, and an opportunity to earn both repeat business and referrals. Creating a process for understanding and serving the entire client journey is key to positioning your firm as the provider of choice and to circumventing the RFP/RFQ cattle call that so many dread.
Smart marketing for professional services firms is efficient in its delivery and effective in driving home the value and expertise of the firm. Ensure quality branding at every client touchpoint. Implement a platform to showcase the knowledge and expertise of the firm. Leverage systems to manage the client relationship. Most important of all, truly know, understand, and speak to every step in the entire client journey. These are the key pillars to successfully marketing professional services and ensuring a pipeline of work. An experienced marketing team can help you establish these four pillars for your firm and can work closely with your in-house team to execute and build on this foundation of success.