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Professional Services Marketing Strategy

13 December 2013

When I started my marketing career it seemed that no matter where I worked my boss had always been trained at Proctor and Gamble (P&G) which was lucky for me because P&G is the best marketing training company in the world. They believed mostly in on the job training. However one book that they all swore by was an ancient book called “The Art of War” written 2000 years ago by a Chinese general called Sun Tsu. P&G believed that his teachings on effective warfare were very relevant to marketing a business. To be a successful professional services firm, understanding these principals is critical because to be successful you need to beat your competitors i.e. your clients need to choose you instead of them. It is a form of war without the guns – but there are definitely winners and losers.

In preparing for a presentation recently I checked out Google Images to find a slide that talked about strategy and tactics and I came across a Sun Tsu quotation. He said:

It occurs to me that in professional services marketing there is little understanding of strategy i.e. what tactics will lead to victory and a lot of tactics that are not routed in a sound strategy. The most obvious example of this web sites. Almost everyone has one and if they don’t they feel they should have one. But most people are getting almost no benefit from them or understand clearly how to use them even though they have spent several thousand euros on their site. What is even crazier is that some professional services firms have developed an updated more modern site with the same lack of understanding. 2000 years ago Tsun Tsu knew this was a bad idea.

The whole topic of Digital Marketing Strategy and what type of marketing work for professional services firms is a big topic but consider this one point:

Most people only visit the first page of the results of a Google search. And most people don’t even scroll down to the bottom of the page. On a search for “Dublin Accountants” only 16 accountancy firms appear in the first page results – five appear naturally and 11 are paid for ads. There are 533 Accountancy firms registered on the Dublin Business Guide.

So tell me how important a source of business are the websites of 517 or the 97% of accountancy firms who do not appear on the first page of Google?

And yet as I write this there are accountants all over Dublin spending time and money upgrading and designing web sites that will be seen by nobody!

As Sun Tsu would say – this type of marketing activity for a law firm or an accountancy practice is simply the noise before defeat!