The Ongoing Evolution of Professional Services Marketing
Why bother about The ongoing evolution of marketing professional services when today’s marketing challenges seem so overwhelming?
Strange as it may seem, an awareness of the ongoing evolution of marketing might help address issues and obstacles that we currently face.
For example, let’s assume that you were struggling with direct mail marketing in the early part of the this century. How much resource would you have devoted to this issue had you known about the impact of the Internet, with email virtually replacing regular mail?
Based on a review of the ongoing evolution, here are four future trends that are likely to impact how we market our professional services.
Way back when, professionals differentiated themselves from each other by their job titles. Lawyers provided legal services, accountants provided accounting services, consultants provided advice in their areas of expertise.
Now, as a result of increased specialization, the ongoing evolution of technology, the information explosion and a multitude of other factors, a seemingly unlimited number of people deliver what could be considered professional services. If not direct competitors, many of these people provide alternative solutions to clients’ problems.
Regardless of whether or not they provide the same service as you, they are in fact competing with you for the time, attention and business of your prospects and clients.
Current wisdom has it that with the appropriate combination of personal brand and appropriate marketing know-how, we can attract more clients and generate more new business. Sad to say, with the ongoing evolution of professional services marketing, that won’t be enough.
It will no longer be enough to promote, perhaps even showcase what differentiates us from all others.
We must show what truly differentiates us. That is the most critical of future professional service marketing trends. Clients will want solid evidence of what distinguishes us.
2. Counselor vs Technician
Some time ago, I needed a video for a new project and was very pleased with the finished product.
However, a more memorable aspect was the range of services provided. More than just a video technician, Jorge the videographer, also played the role of counselor. Drawing on his experience away from the camera, he coached me on the words to use and advised me of things to do and not do while implementing my project.
Jorge’s service illustrates how we must serve our clients in an increasingly complex and confusing world. In providing our services as coach, consultant, or whatever else, we take on the role of trusted adviser or counselor for our clients.
Certainly our clients will value the benefits of our professional service. They will also appreciate the benefits of our life and world experience.
For example, while helping clients with business management issues, they will also appreciate your informed input on the latest mobile device.
The times they are a changin’. No longer restricted by the narrow confines of the professional services we provide, we can and should share our helpful and relevant life experience with them. By selectively sharing appropriate experience, we can help and satisfy our clients’ more as counselors than just as technicians.
The key of course is to allow clients to introduce issues in which you have first-hand knowledge and experience. At that point, you can share your informed and thoughtful observations.
As you are no doubt aware, not only is today’s wired, interconnected world a busy place, it’s also very transparent.
Given the widespread access to social media and other discussion boards, anyone with a video-capable smart phone can capture everything from those embarrassing little moments to crowning achievements.
The ongoing evolution of technology can only make the issue more pressing.
For honest and credible businesses that’s good news. By offering reliable content in a straightforward manner, they can attract more clients. With a proven track record of serving and pleasing clients, they can differentiate themselves from others with real and honest marketing messages.
For the less honorable businesses, that’s bad news. I recently received an email from one LinkedIn contact advising me of the shady business practices of another. Since I knew and trusted the contact who emailed me and knew nothing about the other contact, the appropriate response was a no-brainer. I deleted the reportedly ‘shady’ contact from my list.
As a former lawyer, I recognize the violation of the ‘innocent until proven guilty’ principle of criminal law. However, as a pragmatic self-employed professional, I also recognize the potential negative impact of guilt by association.
With the ongoing advances in mobile technology, our world is going to become a whole lot more transparent. If you have any skeletons hiding in the closet, best to address them sooner rather than later. Later might be just too late.
Of the future professional services marketing trends, growing transparency has the greatest potential to benefit honest professionals and cause serious damage to dishonest businesses.
4. The Ongoing Evolution of Technology & Automation
It goes without saying that the current ongoing evolution of all things technical will continue unabated in the foreseeable future. In fact, of all of the future trends in professional service marketing this ongoing evolution will have the most impact. Moving from management and administration applications, automation will increasingly move into such marketing-focused areas as:
- communication: there will be more and different channels and platforms with which we can communicate with our market
- the marketing process: customized software and online applications will standardize and streamline all marketing functions from research to follow-up
- client service: standardized aspects of client service, such as skill development, will be offered on demand by computerized training
- CRM (Customer/Client Relationship Management): continuous success depends upon effective ongoing management of relationships. With one smart phone, two business email accounts and three social media accounts, I have six different sets of relationships with corresponding contact information. Certainly there is some overlap between these sets of relationships, but how much? Sooner or later we will moving to a single CRM system that will help us manage these relationships more effectively.
All things considered, the ongoing evolution of professional services marketing is more likely to generate positive outcomes than negative.
Sure the learning curve may be steeper than we would like. However, everything that helps us respond effectively to a constantly evolving marketplace will help us grow our businesses in the future is well worth the effort.