If I called your firm’s 10 best clients and asked them what they thought of your firm’s marketing efforts what would they say? That it helps them do their jobs better? That they look forward to your communications? That they remember it? That it leaves a lasting impression on them?
Would they have any answer at all?
Stop and think about this for a minute — most mid-sized consulting and A/E firms I know invest a fair amount of resources in their marketing and business development efforts. From conducting research and producing content, to attendance at trade shows, event sponsorship and straight out firm promotion most firms do a lot.
All in, most $20-30M firms easily invest over $1M in marketing and business development when you factor in both activities and personnel. How much of this investment yields content that’s truly useful to clients? Half –– at best? How much of it produces something entertaining? A little bit? How much of it do your ideal clients actually remember? Any of it? Heck, I’m willing to bet that a good portion of your firm’s marketing effort this year, your own marketing team can’t remember.
An Example of Marketing That Connects on All Levels
A few weeks ago, I attended the 2013 Middle Market Summit hosted by GE Capital and the National Center for the Middle Market. The Summit is a 48-hour living example of successful marketing in action. I’ve attended the last two years as a result of our ongoing working relationship with GE Capital via the National Center for the Middle Market.
I look forward to the event every year because it’s chock full of useful content and incredibly well run. My perspective this year turned not to the event itself, but rather what a successful exhibition of marketing the event truly is.
I can’t share a whole lot of details about the underlying strategy for reasons of confidentiality, but what I can share is this:
- GE positions itself as “more than a bank” through its advertising campaign, “We’re builders. Not bankers.”
- The Summit brings this message to life in one single, unbelievable event hosted exclusively for the company’s best clients and most ideal prospects.
- It’s useful — the speaker lineup includes a variety of learning sessions on a wide range of topics such as decision-making, capital markets, branding, and leadership.
- It’s entertaining and memorable — mixed through out the event are both entertaining speakers such as Darrel Hammond doing presidential impersonations and once-in-a-lifetime ones such as George W. Bush offering quick, Texas one-liners on leadership.
While the exclusivity and expense of this event is out of reach for most middle-market consulting and A/E firms, much of the strategy could be emulated within your marketing strategy. Think about your most ideal clients — both the small set of ones within your existing client base and the larger pool of ones you’d really like to do business with from your prospect list:
- What are their most pressing business challenges right now?
- What partners do you have that could offer perspective on those challenges?
- Could you structure an event either offline or online around those challenges?
- What could you do to make that event both educational and entertaining?
- How could you make it feel exclusive? Could you charge for it?
- What could you do to make it truly memorable — so your ideal clients will always relate your firm with a wonderful moment in their minds?
So, there it is … go build some really amazing marketing.