This article was originally published in the May/June 2012 issue of PSMG Magazine, and is being reproduced here courtesy of the magazine’s publishers. To get the original PDF article, you’ll need to join PSMG.
The promise of digital technologies has always been the measurability of the media. As recently as 15 years ago, consumer marketers started falling in love with the trackable nature of digital advertising and began shifting larger portions of media budgets towards it. By contrast, most professional services marketers have slowly evolved their strategies. For good reason, professional services aren’t bought with the click of a mouse. That said, it is largely the collision of today’s digital technologies that is radically changing the way professional services are bought, marketed and sold.
It’s The Collision That Matters
The technologies of which I speak are web analytics, CRM, CMS and marketing automation:
- Web Analytics – At their core, systems like Google Analytics are most effective at simply tracking and measuring general activity on a website.
- CRM – The best CRM platforms bring structure and visibility into the business development process while improving the effectiveness of one-on-one selling situations.
- CMS – The wide availability of free open source platforms to manage and edit content has exponentially grown the total amount of web content in the past five years.
- Marketing Automation – While originally envisioned to automate repetitive tasks, marketing automation has quickly evolved into a tool for marketing intelligence, social media monitoring and search engine optimization.
What’s interesting isn’t really what these technologies do, but how they’re integrating to provide better insight to both marketing and business development. The elegance and effectiveness of this integration has exploded in the last five years with the rapid expansion of SaaS business models.
Three Critical Outcomes From This Collision
This explosion is what’s really changing how professional services are bought, marketed and sold. These are the three critical outcomes that will fundamentally change how you market and the very nature of your marketing department:
1. Content is King.
Useful, meaningful content can help a firm attract otherwise unknown buyers to the top of the marketing funnel. Follow-on content can be used to gauge interest and determine where a prospect is in the buying cycle. Firms that become expert producers and distributors of content will lead sectors.
2. Metrics are Finally Useful.
The noisy mess of data that was web analytics is being transformed into useful, relevant insight about potential prospects both at an aggregate level and at an individual level. Marketers can now easily see how prospects find the firm, identify where they are in the buying cycle, and nurture each one individually before transferring to the business development team. Firms that learn how to understand analytics and get the most from them will be leaders.
3. Marketing and business development alignment.
For the first time, possibly ever, marketing has the ability to definitively prove how many leads it creates for business development and which investments yield the most high value prospects for the firm. In turn, business development personnel are able to extract useful, intelligent insight to inform their selling process effectively aiding them in closing more business.
Firms that build real marketing functions that understand content and analytics and pair them with a strong business development culture stand to yield the most growth in the years ahead.
Jump in. Soon.
Which platforms you standardize on are irrelevant. What’s critical is that you take action. Firms that embrace the business opportunity and invest the resources to make these technologies central to their practice will sustain growth through the next recession. Those who don’t may find themselves good prospects for the world’s leading bankruptcy practices.