Published on 2nd July 2015
This is the big challenge of service providers and professional services marketers alike. How do you ensure that your offering stands out from the competition when you are essentially offering the same services as everyone else?
Ambition recently hosted a round table discussion for BD and Marketing Directors from Professional Services firms. Leading the discussion was Claire Mason, Managing Director and Founder of the award winning PR and Marketing consultancy Man Bites Dog.
Offering insight into the ways that this ongoing challenge can be tackled, Claire argued that ideas are the only source of differentiation for professional services firms yet all too often, marketers forget to put the same level of effort into activating the idea as they do in coming up with it in the first place.
Many of us fall into the trap of adopting a “cookie cutter” approach to marketing, following traditional tried and tested methods of launching a campaign rather than using the idea itself to suggest the medium through which it should be launched.
Claire suggested that one approach to adopt when launching a campaign is a three pronged attack.
The rule of 3:
1. Differentiate your offering
First, you need to come up with a commercially effective idea which will make you stand out in the market. If you have the choice between a big idea and a dull idea, choose the big idea! It might be more risky in the short-term, but if you do it right then you will get a far greater return.
2. Focus on what you want your audience to feel
You have to create an experience that is personal and relevant to your audience. Something transferable for consumers and clients alike is that we are all just people and creating a buyer experience that is relevant to the individual and the sector they work in is most effective.
3. Activate the campaign
Follow your original idea to fruition and make it materialise. But when activating a campaign, take time to think about how you do it. The idea should always be client led – what does your audience really want? Then based on this, what is the most effective medium you can use to deliver the idea? Don’t just get the cookie cutter out!
The medium doesn’t have to be complicated or unachievable – it could be as simple as using an original platform. For example, a bid for Google was delivered with the support of a video instead of standard PowerPoint presentation.
Rules are meant to be broken after all….
The challenge of marketing to the knowledge economy is that all too often our stakeholders, be that partners, associates or BD teams, have already set the rules and are reluctant to take a chance on a completely new process. But, Claire argued, rules are meant to be broken! She pointed out that “if you want to communicate a fresh idea, only academics would put this in writing”. Finding original ways of presenting your ideas to the Board can help to broaden traditional ways of thinking and help you gain buy-in from key stakeholders.
Always put the client first
A common misconception in marketing is that too often we assume that we know our client’s needs. But when was the last time you actually asked your clients what they want?
The buyer journey is not what it used to be. It is no longer linear - digital channels have completely transformed it and nowadays it looks more like a loyalty loop. Buyers can now enter the loyalty loop at any point in the process so building relationships and bonds is key to success. Ultimately marketers need to remember to constantly focus on client needs and not in marketing needs if they want to be successful.
Watch our video interview with Claire Mason below: