Professional Services Marketing: How the Best Firms Build Premier Brands, Thriving Lead Generation Engines, and Cultures of Business Development Success Hardcover – Jul 27 2009
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From the Inside Flap
In the old days, professional service firms could survive without much marketing effort. Put together a team of good people, deliver strong service to clients, and you might get by just fine on repeat business and client referrals. For many, those days are gone. While repeat business and referrals are still necessary to grow, they're no longer enough to succeed. You need smart, effective marketing and a culture of business development success to bring in a steady stream of clients to grow your business.
Professional Services Marketing gives you the field-tested, research-based approaches and tactics your organization needs to succeed. It helps you sort the wheat from the chaff among the many and varied marketing strategies and tactics, allowing you to make the best possible decisions for you and your business while avoiding the common mistakes unique to professional services firms.
The book covers five key areas your firm can't grow without:
- Creating a customized marketing and growth strategy based on what will really work for your firm
- Establishing a brand and reputation that leads to market leadership, frustrated competitors, and happy clients (and more of them)
- Implementing a marketing communications program that will keep your firm front and center in decision-makers' minds
- Developing a lead generation strategy that brings in more new clients than you will know what to do with
- Winning new clients by developing rainmakers and a culture of business-development hustle, passion, intensity, and success
Professional Services Marketing includes case studies that illustrate the successes and failures of other firms, as well as firsthand stories from well-respected industry professionals. It helps you make the right decisions about what to do, what to spend, and how to place key people in the right roles to maximize their time and energy. Plus, it will help you avoid dreaded mistakes that lead to unproductive marketing efforts and keep you up to date on the latest thinking in the industry.
Centered around primary research on the way clients buy and reliable insight from successful firms, this is the perfect guide to growing your business for consultants, attorneys, technology professionals, accountants, engineers, and any other professional services provider.
About the Author
Mike Schultz is Co-President of Wellesley Hills Group, where he works as a consultant and speaker in professional services marketing and business development. He publishes RainToday.com, the leading source for insight, advice, and tools for growing a professional services business, and the Services Insider Blog and podcast series.
John E. Doerr is Co-President of Wellesley Hills Group and has spent thirty years in professional services leadership. He consults, speaks, and writes on the strategy and tactics of marketing and business development for professional services. For more information or to contact the authors, please visit www.whillsgroup.com or www.raintoday.com.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
One question I get asked every now and then is "Can you recommend a good book on marketing professional services?".
And to be honest, my normal answer is "not really".
For sole practitioners and small consulting firms, Robert Middleton's Action Plan Marketing material is an excellent resource. For larger firms there's very little on marketing that I find helpful, so I usually point them to the relevant chapters in more general works like Maister's Managing the Professional Service Firm, Harding's Rainmaking or Denvir & Walker's Growing Your Client Base.
Well, now I have something to recommend.
Professional Services Marketing is Mike Schultz & John Doerr's new book focused on helping professional firms build strong brands, create a "lead generation engine" and develop effective business development cultures.
Here's the difference with Professional Services Marketing - it's based on what really works in professional services.
As well as running their own professional service firm, Schultz and Doerr advise leading law, accountancy and consulting firms. And as the founders of [...], they have access to the most recent research on lead generation methods, client buying criteria, fee rates, etc.
The impact of that experience and research comes through loud and clear in the book. What you won't find here are unsubstantiated theories or concepts from product marketing crudely adapted to a services environment. Instead, it's based on practical, real-world-tested ideas.
Example: In Chapter 6 - Don't Worry About Your Competition, they debunk a number of myths hung-over from product marketing. "You must be a first mover" - nonsense. "You must be #1 or #2 in your market" - pish. "You must have a USP" - yeah right. I come across these myths frequently (and unfortunately, I hear them repeated by too many trainers and consultants who should know better). Schulz & Doerr demonstrate here and throughout the book that they're not afraid to break with conventional wisdom and to "tell it like it is". Using research and experience they show how these ideas are not only wrong for professional service firms, but that by following them they can damage your business.
OK - so here's what the book actually covers:
* Marketing Planning
* The Key Levers of Lead Generation
* Options for Fees & Pricing
* Uniqueness (and why it's a mistahe to think you need to be unique)
* Thought Leadership
* Marketing Communications
* Lead Nurturing
No book is perfect, of course. The chapter on selling has some excellent ideas (particularly about the importance of surfacing client aspirations as well as problems) - but isn't enough on it's own to turn a stumbling accountant or brash lawyer into a competent salesperson. I'd have liked to have seen pointers to more detailed resources in this area like Let's Get Real or SPIN Selling.
But overall - how highly do I rate the book? Put it this way: I got a free electronic version of the pre-release version of the book - but I've stumped up my own cash to add a hard copy version to my library for reference.
If you have no experience at all, the book might be helpful even if not well researched or solid. Be careful! If you are more experienced, the advise will be too generic. May still be interesting. Might have one or two ideas that are overlooked. So far, I didn't find anything useful, and to this point, I would not recommend this book to a friend, only to a competitor.
I will keep reading, and pray no more advertorials from the writers surface, as it's becoming irritating. In any case, I'd be very alert, and am very tempted to put this down. The marketing planning section was really a waste of time, even when it's so short as to take 10 min to read. So far, awful. What mislead me was the David Maister endorsement.
I'll keep on reading and if my view changes, I'll make it a duty to come back and do justice. I give it two stars, not one, because it's still a good resource for someone with no experience at all that doesn't connect marketing with revenue. The book does argue that doesn't pay off, and it's right, plus shows some generic metrics (and then tries to sell you an Excel spreadsheet!)
I kept on reading, and it got reasonably interesting. It touches on some preconceptions and offers the reader to question conventional wisdom. It presents a branding progression map, it creates a simple framework to built different branding elements that, per se, are interesting and can be used to break down and combine the effort in a more directed, logical way. Overall, being optimistic this part is 4 stars to me (2 stars for the first chapters, 4 for the ones up to chapter 14 = 3 stars). It still lacks in specificity, but generates new thinking and helps revisit important assumptions that may be fruitful. I will update this if anything else changes. Also, the amount of self-promotion drops to nearly zero, which was a blessing.
For full disclosure. I am mentioned in the book along with dozens of others as a contributing author to [...], the online marketing magazine edited by Mike Schultz. I do contribute to the site. Contributing to RainToday and working with Mike has not influenced this review at all. However, since there is a slight relationship here, you be the judge (the best way to be the judge is buy the book and determine whether my review is accurate or not).
A growing trend in the sales and marketing training/consulting industry--and consequently for authors of books--is targeting professional service providers. The sector has been viewed as potentially profitable and underserved. It's a market where underserved is no longer the case. Amazon has over 2,350 sales and marketing books listed that target the professional service provider and most of these have been published in the last five or six years.
So in such a crowded marketplace that has exploded in such a short period of time is it really reasonable to expect that Schultz and Doerr have contributed much of anything new? It might not be reasonable to expect, but they did create a work that does contribute substantially to the subject.
They lay out for themselves a massive task. According to the front flap, the book covers these five areas:
1. Creating a customized marketing and growth strategy based on what will really work for your firm
2. Establishing a brand and reputation that leads to market leadership, frustrated competitors, and happy clients (and more of them)
3. Implementing a marketing communications program that will keep your firm front and center in decision-makers' minds
4. Developing a lead generation strategy that brings in more new clients than you will know what to do with
5. Winning new clients by developing rainmakers and a culture of business-development hustle, passion, intensity, and success
That's a massive undertaking. In essence, Schultz and Doerr intend to present a comprehensive strategy for marketing and growing your professional services firm including turning each of your practitioners into strong business producers.
Impressive if done. Let's see if they did it.
Schultz and Doerr come from a background entrenched in the real world of marketing professional service firms. They own one themselves, the Wellesley Hills Group, a consulting company working with professional service firms. As consults to professional service firms, they see the good and the bad, what works and what doesn't.
Professional Services Marketing isn't a marketing text; it's a marketing implementation guide. It isn't filled with theory but with practical guidance and real world experience. It doesn't come the ivory tower but from the trenches because the authors live in the trenches. Theory is great fun to discuss but when it comes to building your firm, you want real, workable, applicable, predictable strategies and techniques, not pie-in-the-sky maybe's.
One of the most frustrating aspects of marketing and sales tips, guidance, and advice for professionals who have had little exposure to and are fearful of marketing and sales is that the guidance and advice is given in a plastic, sterile manner--there's little or no context to put real flesh and bones to the concepts. Consequently they float in the ether, there to be seen and admired, not to be used.
Schultz and Doerr understand that concept without context renders it virtually useless. They turn what for many would be pretty trinkets into useable tools--that itself more than justifies the price of the book.
More importantly, they tie all the aspects of creating and implementing a marketing program into a consistent whole. Rather than having a number of disparate pieces of "marketing," Professional Services Marketing shows the user (not reader, this isn't a book to be "read," it's a book to be implemented) how to coordinate and synchronize the various parts of a marketing, branding, and sales program into a unified whole.
Glowing praise? Yes.
A book without any weaknesses? No.
From a marketing and branding standpoint, Professional Services Marketing is in a class by itself. It does, however, fall short in one area--turning an accountant, attorney or engineer into a salesperson.
The authors give good advice. They give real world guidance. They can help move a professional who is mystified by the concept of business generation into one who can snag a client here and there. Unfortunately, no book is going to create Rainmakers out of non-sellers. It would have been nice to see an extensive list of sales skill resources, in particular coaching resources, and the admonition to seek out and hire a quality coach.
But no book is perfect.
Whether an individual practitioner, practitioner within a small or large firm, or partner or manager of a firm, get a copy and implement it. If you're a partner or manager of a firm, purchase a copy for every member of your firm--managers, practitioners, staff. Get everyone on the same page--and these are the pages to get them on.
Among the insights in this book that will have wide appeal to service providers is Schultz and Doerr's discussion of uncovering your firm's key brand attributes. The nine questions that guide the reader to their true value proposition is worth the price of the book.
It's hard to go wrong with this book. Highly recommended.
Michael W. McLaughlin
Author, Winning the Professional Services Sale
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