Fairly regularly I come across firms who for one reason or another have engaged a marketing consultancy. For many, this is entirely the wrong move. Few marketing consultancies understand the nuances of professional service firms. Many focus on things which might have some merit like brand and website but miss the core matters to be addressed when marketing professionals.

Time to annoy the marketing consultants

We all know that most business comes from personal referrals and personal reputation. We also know that there are significant opportunities to be unlocked in our existing fee base. To maximise these opportunities much of the marketing heavy lifting needs to be done by the practitioner themselves. 

Blogs need to be written to highlight the knowledge and personality of the practitioner. A client needs review needs to be conducted requiring time to engage with clients. Seminars and webinars need to be run, speaking engagements need to be sought, referral partners need to be met, clients need to be asked for referrals, prospects databases need to be built. Around 17 marketing initiatives need to be executed on a regular basis. Very few require the input of any significant marketing expertise. 

Most firms are not executing these things on a consistent basis. To be effective these basic marketing activities need to be occurring month in and month out. Don't expect any returns on the investment until you've been doing these things for more than 12 months. The investment firms need to make is in a marketing coordinator - an admin person with an interest in marketing. The coordinator gets out the baseball bat to "encourage" practice leaders to write the blogs, conduct the webinars, meet with clients and conduct needs reviews. With encouragement, the coordinator can learn how to do the newsletter, post on social media, seek out speaking engagements for the leadership team and effectively manage the marketing calendar. 

The simple marketing calendar maps out all the activities in the year highlighting who needs to complete each task with due dates. This assists in keeping on track and provides a high-level view to ensure activities are spaced throughout the year. 

Marketing expertise does have its place. Creative input is an important component so that websites, newsletters and promotional prices cut through and convey the essence of the firm. Assistance in developing some quality video content is worthwhile. These days digital marketing (Google, social media, remarketing) is an important component. Every firm needs a digital marketing strategy. Use an expert to help you set it up and train your coordinator to manage it day to day. Periodically, get them to review and make suggestions. But don't let the marketing consultants take over your whole marketing program. 

Consider also some training for your team - how to ask for referrals; how to conduct themselves at a cocktail function; public speaking skills; how to conduct quality needs reviews are all skills that not only benefit the firm but make your team better professionals. 

To be successful in your marketing time needs to be spent. The leadership group must make the commitment, the coordinator must manage it. Use the consultants sparingly. Own it yourself. You'll be surprised by the results. 

Smithink founder David Smith has spent over as a practitioner and as an adviser to professional service firms. His advice is not from a textbook but are practical down to earth suggestions that experience has shown achieve results. Come and listen to David and Mark Holton at our September workshops. Click here to find out more.

Andrea Ives has been working with Mark and David for almost 10 years coordinating their marketing. She has some capacity to help other firms. Click here to contact Andrea and find out more.


David Smith