Professional Services Marketing Blog

Sep 10 2012

The Strategic Marketing Process for Professional Services


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If you’re like many professional services executives the whole concept of a strategic marketing process may seem a bit alien. Even for classically trained marketers, concepts such as the marketing mix or distribution channels seem a bit out of place in a professional services context.

And it’s no wonder. The classic strategic marketing process models were developed for advertising-driven consumer products. Professional services are quite different in their nature and how they are marketed.

What we need is a process tailored to the realities of modern professional services firms. Try this process on for size:

Strategic marketing process defined

The strategic marketing process is how you align your firm's overall strategy with your day-to-day business development efforts. It allows growth to be driven by a deliberate strategy.

For many firms, growth is a result of luck and individual partner efforts. Marketing is often reactive and short term oriented. “Hey, we were just asked to sponsor a golf event. Should we do it?” or “We need some new clients. Let’s send out a mailing describing our service offerings.” You get the picture.

We all want to grow our firms. But how can you do it strategically?

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Apr 25 2012

5 Trends in Promoting Your Content: Social Marketing for Professional Services


By Sylvia Montgomery

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Our recent webinar, Promoting Your Content: Social Marketing for Professional Services, focused on content promotion techniques that work. We were joined by Jennifer Abernethy, author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Social Media Marketing (now in its 2nd Edition) and founder of The Sales Lounge, who provided a wealth of ideas for promoting your content through social media.

When you create fresh, educational content for your target audience, your firm can benefit in many ways:

  • Attract high-quality search engine traffic
  • Use content as currency in social media
  • Educate and nurture prospects
  • Attract qualified leads
  • Build trust and loyalty

For professional services firms, “being your own publisher” is no longer an option. It's a necessity. Below is a recap of Jennifer’s “trends to watch” for promoting your content. Each is accompanied by a brief take on its relevance to professional services.

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Oct 19 2011

What is Brand Positioning and Why Does it Matter?


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At Hinge, we’ve helped a lot of professional services firms position themselves in the marketplace. But if you’ve never been through the process before, the whole concept of brand positioning could sound a little too good to be true. After all, it would take more than a little marketing fairy dust to push your firm in a different direction. Right?

In fact, repositioning your brand may not be as difficult as it seems. And it will make it much easier for you to develop new business.

You see, most professional services firms float more or less aimlessly through the marketplaces. They pursue whatever business opportunities come their way, spreading their net of services ever wider to increase their chances of catching new clients. These firms become indistinguishable from the majority of their competitors, and they find that more and more often they compete on price.

It doesn’t have to be that way. And positioning your firm is the answer.

Brand positioning is nothing more than a way to help prospective customers make sense of your business. When you position your firm, you begin to stand for something — something distinct and useful. Not everyone is going to want what you have to offer. But to those clients that need your services, your positioning will make your firm extraordinarily attractive.

So how do you develop an effective market position? The process is laid down in layers:

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Oct 12 2011

What’s Your Online Marketing Priority?

By Sean McVey

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Imagine you are the VP of Marketing Communications at a major supply chain management software company.  Your job is to figure out how to get the most out of your firm’s marketing dollars.  You know online marketing has a place, but you really don’t know where to focus.  Do you hire a social media guru?  Do you invest in video?  SEO? A blog? The possibilities are really endless… but your budget isn’t.  So how do you spend?

Kirsten Watson from Kinaxis was in this very situation.  And after a long digital journey, she now finds herself leading one of the most successful online marketing teams in the technology industry.  With an estimated 35-40% of the firm’s leads coming from the web, there’s no question Kinaxis has found a formula for success.

While chatting with Kirsten, I began to realize how important prioritization is to her strategy. Today, Kinaxis deploys a number of online marketing tactics, but the firm began by focusing on a just a few foundational techniques.  After mastering those techniques, they gradually expanded their repertoire.

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Feb 06 2011

Brand Launch: Creating a Brand New Professional Services Brand

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Branding a professional services firm comes in two flavors, rebranding an existing firm or service line and launching a new one. They are similar in overall process but distinct in their twists and turns.

Rebranding, by definition, involves an existing firm with ongoing clients, staff and valuable brand equity. Not so much with a brand launch. There, you are starting from scratch with nothing but that big empty flip chart. Your brand equity is zero. And cash is always tight.

When faced with this scenario, most firms botch the opportunity (please forgive me if I’m offending you here). Their firm name often incorporates the founders names or a generic service-related term (think “professional,” “systems,” “technology,” “services” or “associates”). The resulting name is long and promptly get abbreviated into an acronym that lacks any meaning or memorability. The name spills over to the web, where their URL is difficult to remember. And when you finally get to the website, it looks like it was built on the cheap.

When they need credibility the most, many startups miss all the opportunities to build it. It’s the equivalent of showing up at the senior prom in your sweat pants. Yes, there is a better way.

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Dec 09 2010

Cultivating a Powerful Differentiator

By Sylvia Montgomery

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Last week I hosted a lunch program for the DC chapter of the Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS). The panel explored trends and interesting perspectives facing professionals in the A/E/C industry, as related to design-build, alternative energy and SITES (Sustainable Sites Initiative). The panelists also discussed how service providers were leveraging these techniques as part of their value proposition and differentiation efforts.

Peter Rigby, PE and Principal at Paciulli, Simmons & Associates, focused on design-build, post marketplace adoption. He explained how teaming partnerships in the industry had dramatically shifted from architect led to contractor led. His perspectives really brought home the importance of considering unanticipated strategic partners as a normal course of business.

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