The New Science of Professional Services Marketing
By Lee Frederiksen, Ph.D.
Marketing is the single most important function within a modern professional services firm.
When our marketing and branding firm, Hinge, was asked to collaborate on a revision of Mike Schultz’s and John Doerr’s classic book, Professional Services Marketing: How the Best Firms Build Premier Brands, Thriving Lead Generation Engines and Cultures of Business Development Success, we led with this bold statement.
We knew that this first line was bound to raise a few eyebrows, as many professional services firms put marketing in the same category as paying taxes and taking out the trash, i.e. Things We’d Prefer Not to Do. But between the revised book and our free webinar on June 26, we are out to convince even the staunchest skeptics. Here is a sneak peek into one of the book’s big takeaways.
Growth, Profitability, and Online Marketing
In our recent research on high growth firms—those that grow up to ten times faster and are up to four times more profitable—one of our biggest findings was the relationship between high growth firms and online marketing. The data were unmistakable: the most successful firms are doing online marketing, while the less successful firms are not. Several important facts emerged:
1. High growth firms generate more of their leads online.
High growth firms generate over 62% of their new business leads online, while average or low growth firms generate 12% or less of their leads online.
2. Online lead generation is much more profitable.
If a firm is able to generate 20% or more of its leads online, its profits rise, considerably. In fact, a firm generating 60% or more of leads online is twice as profitable as a firm generating less than 20% of new business online. And, as online lead generation rises, so does profitability
3. Online lead generation actually results in higher growth.
Firms that generate at least 40% of their new business leads online grow four times faster than firms that generate 15% or less of their leads online
4. Your competitors are investing in online marketing.
Consider that 66% of firms in our study planned to increase their online marketing budget this year, with an average budget increase of 56%. Do you want to be one of the few firms left on the sidelines?
A recent experience at Hinge illustrates why online marketing is so effective.
Lee Frederiksen, Professional Services Marketing Expert
Hinge’s Bedtime Story: How Online Marketing Paid Off, Big-Time
It should be no surprise that Hinge has been committed to online marketing, a major component of which is our content marketing campaign. We examine professional services firms—our target audience—and then distribute our findings through a variety of online marketing channels such as webinars, eBooks, guides, research reports, blog posts, and social media. It’s important to note that all of these offerings are free, although some of the more in-depth pieces require you to register your email (which works great for lead generation).
Giving away your intellectual property for free is a critical element of earning trust and expanding your visibility—you want people to forward your blog posts to friends, to re-tweet the link to your free eBook. As a result of Hinge’s online content marketing campaign, a growing number of professional services firms follow our work and think of us when they need branding and marketing services.
One day a professional services firm called, asking us to submit a proposal for a complete rebranding of their firm. We had never had any communication with this firm before, and we didn’t know any of their leaders. Surprised, we asked if they wanted to meet our team first. They said no, as they had been “following Hinge’s work for a while.” We won the contract and later learned that the firm had conducted in-depth reviews of other firms before choosing Hinge.
Why was Hinge not similarly scrutinized? Their response was very telling: “since we’ve been following you, we understand how you think through issues and approach challenges. We were completely comfortable with your approach.”
Getting on the Short List
This story demonstrates how online marketing works: our firm spends a lot of time creating free material that adds value for our target audience, and then we make that material widely available through the Internet. The firms that become repeat consumers of our material begin to develop trust, and they become increasingly likely to choose us when they need services.
Using online marketing techniques to distribute our valuable content marketing increased our firm’s reputation and visibility—the two factors critical to getting a firm on a buyer’s short-list.
Lee Frederiksen, Ph.D., is Managing Partner at Hinge, a marketing firm specializing in branding and marketing for professional services. Join Lee as he hosts Hinge’s free webinar, “The New Science of Professional Services Marketing,” on June 26 at 1:00pm EST to learn why and what it means for your firm. Change is sweeping the industry. Don’t be left behind.