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08 Oct, 2015

Overcoming Outdated Marketing Perspectives in Professional Services

Sylvia Montgomery

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Marketing isn’t what it used to be. The past several years have seen a significant transformation as marketing evolved from an art to a science. Thanks to advances in marketing technologies and increased interest in behavioral sciences, marketers have become much more analytical and precise in their approach. By using data to better understand potential clients, professional services firms can reach a more targeted audience at a lower cost than ever before.

Yet, many firms still haven’t adopted this new approach to marketing. By failing to adapt, these firms’ marketing strategies are quickly becoming outdated and they are falling further and further behind the competition.

Here are some of the most common outdated perspectives still being used by professional services firms today and why they need to be overcome:

“Marketing is a money pit.”

While marketing has long since gotten a bad rap for being unnecessarily expensive, new online approaches are allowing firms to see a higher return on investment than ever before. In fact, our research found that the fastest growing firms actually spend less than average on marketing and are instead spending it more wisely.

By embracing content marketing, and focusing on other effective online and offline tools, firms that have embraced the evolving perspective are discovering just how affordable marketing can be.

“Do good work and the rest will take care of itself.”

According to our research, 81.5 percent of professional services firms report receiving a referral from someone they have not previously worked with. This suggests a significant shift in referral marketing as well. Firms that only focus on client referrals are missing out on the opportunity to attract new business through referrals given due to their reputation, authority, visibility or expertise.

Doing good work will always be important. But building a trustworthy brand through content production, speaking engagements, publications, and social media can have a strong and positive impact on the number of referrals you’re able to generate.

“It’s all about relationships.”

Only 5.5 percent of these non-client referrals come from someone who you’ve met before, while the other 94.5 percent come from people who are simply familiar with your reputation, expertise, and visibility. Again, this goes back to the importance of establishing a strong brand that makes the most of your firm’s reputation and visibility.

Yes, relationships are still important—but as marketing has evolved, the nature of how relationships are formed has also evolved. In many cases, your relationship with a prospect starts long before they establish contact, whether through your brand, content, or other aspects of your online presence.

“We don’t know if it’s working or not.”

This is one marketing perspective that firms should have no reservations about leaving in the past. Gone are the years of estimations and guesses. Now, thanks to our easy access to data and analytics, you can know exactly how well your firm’s marketing strategies are performing and where you can improve. Use these key metrics to banish your uncertainty:

  • Your overall website traffic and traffic by source
  • Total number and type of keywords generating traffic
  • Overall conversion rates and conversions by source
  • Number of downloads for each piece of content
  • Opportunities by source

Armed with this knowledge, your firm can market more effectively and efficiently to save time and resources.

“Marketing is voodoo.”

When marketing is approached as a science, it no longer seems like magic or voodoo manipulation. Instead, there are concrete facts about why and how it’s working. For instance, we know that there is a direct correlation between the percentage of leads you generate online and firm growth and profitability. With clear-cut statistics, correlations, and facts, marketing is no longer a shot in the dark.

Don’t let the self-fulfilling prophesy of bad marketing cause your firm to fall behind the competition. Instead, evolve with the times and embrace the scientific approach to marketing that has proven successful for professional services firms. By using a well-rounded strategy that invokes a range of skillsets, your firm can leave outdated perspectives where they belong—in the past.

About the Author

Sylvia Montgomery is a Senior Partner at Hinge, a marketing and branding firm for professional services. At Hinge, Sylvia provides strategic counsel to national clients. She is a co-author of The Visible Expert, Inside the Buyer’s Brain, and Online Marketing for Professional Services. She is a long-time and active member of SPMS DC. You can follow Sylvia on Twitter @BrandStrong.