To keep me up to date on professional services marketing strategy and tactics I have a Google alert for the term "account-based marketing". Recently it sent across this interview with Leor Franks, Managing Director of Marketing Communications at FTI Consulting - the global professional services firm.
In one of the questions, he is asked what the essential parts of a successful marketing strategy are. He talks through what he calls the 4Rs:
- Revenue Marketing
I was keen to focus on two of these in particular: Reputation and Relationships.
Reputation: All professional services firms are full of experts so it is very difficult to differentiate by saying you are a firm of experts. The tactical way to differentiate is to demonstrate your expertise in a concise and most importantly, useful and informative way to your clients and prospects. Doing this better than your competitors is a great tactic for building your reputation. Not just that of the firm, but of all the experts that make up your firm. Strategically building the reputation of each of your experts raises the brand of the firm as a result.
Relationships: Most Professionals are pretty good at building relationships 1-2-1, face to face. But how do you keep building on those relationships in between those face to face meetings? I once went to a talk by Paul Smith, the Chairman of Eversheds Sutherland law firm. He used to do it by cutting out articles from the FT every morning, sticking a Post-it note with a little-personalised message on each one and then mailing them to his key clients and prospects. My own mother has taken up the mantle by sending me regular cuttings to London from the Belfast Telegraph! By sending useful and regular insights to the people that matter you can continue to grow those most important relationships between the face to face meetings.
Leor Franks finishes by saying that a key part of their strategy at FTI is bringing their experts to market - more so than a Big Four firm, "where it's more about the Leverage Platform". However, with the Big Four firms I have worked with over the last year even they are now putting a huge importance on bringing their experts to market. The "Leverage Platform" is no longer enough.
Expertise plays such a large role for the professional services firm in their sales and marketing strategy, it helps to frame and differentiate their service offerings and their people.
I have also seen that for most of the experts in Professional Services firms there are actually a very small number of key people in the world they want to influence. Sometimes as low as 20 people, once as low as 4! Then as indicated in the quote below, the metrics are extremely vital. But the numbers do not have to be high - you do not need thousands of people engaging with your thought leadership because there often not even 1,000 people who could possibly by your services. If one or two of your "twenty people" (or four people!) have engaged with your content then it's probably a job well done!
One tactic we’re typically focused on is content and thought leadership. Direct distribution of that content via e-mail marketing to our relevant client segments is critical. We’re very focused on the metrics, in terms of how many people have received it, how many people have opened it, how many people have read it, what’s happened.