A recent study by Queensland University of Technology researcher found that maintaining client-consultant relationship and time management are the most critical challenges faced by S&M consultancy firms. Consequently, marketing slips down the priority list of all partners.
Develop Marketing Goals & Objectives
Consultancy partners have to think through and answer some important questions before they jump into the marketing foray. Think in terms that “When the ‘Why’ is powerful, the ‘How’ becomes easy”. The marketing objectives provide answers to the most important ‘why’ questions.
S&M consultancy firms should avoid plans sold as ‘one size fits all’. Also, steer clear of buying ‘complicated’ marketing plans with overly-ambitious objectives. Generic goals should be branding, audience growth and building of reputation. Rule of thumb is that you should judge your marketing plan/program’s success on three leading metrics:
- Increasing brand awareness
- Increasing sales
- Generating referrals (Customer advocacy)
Develop Buyer Personas
Since S&M consultancy firms are unlike conventional packaged goods companies, it is important for the consultancy firms to develop their buyer’s persona. You can develop buyer persona/s by answering a few core questions about your customers such as:
What your customers care about?
What solution/s they would prefer?
Which place they are most likely to seek or buy your solution from?
How would they like to be communicated with?
The International Federation of Accountants (IFAC), in their marketing advice to S&M practice firms, replaced the 4Ps of marketing (Product, Price, Place & Promotion) with 4Cs that are Client solution, Client cost, Convenience, and Communication (promotion and ongoing engagement).
Buyer Persona Tool, developed by HubSpot, can be used to develop buyer personas.
Differentiate Your Brand
After thinking through all these questions, develop a differentiable customer value preposition. Two excellent tools can help you with doing this.
You can use as many and as less points for creating differentiation; it depends on your personal and organizational resources. Make sure that your customers perceive it as a differentiating factor, not you.
Select Marketing Platforms
Offline marketing activities such as promotions and membership in consultancy associations will result in an online search of your firm. Use mediums such as website pages, landing pages, E-mail 2.0, social media, SEO, calls-to-action and blogging.
OmniCom, an industry leading advertising & marketing firm has suggested its key clients to shift 10% to 25% of their TV Ad dollars to online video marketing, reports Wall Street Journal. Recent statistics indicate that most favored mediums for online B2B marketing are:
|Platform||Percentage share of online content marketing|
There are many options in online content marketing such as social media marketing, articles on a business’s website, e-Newsletters, case studies, videos and articles on other websites.
Fix budget & responsibility
The soft part of your planning process comes to an end when you face the core issues related to execution. At this stage you will typically answer questions such as:
- How much are you willing to spend?
- Who will champion the project?
- What is the duration and result you expect?
All these questions will help your company to peg some reference points to which you can return when measuring the success of your marketing plan. Do not underestimate the importance of project champion.
Review performance, re-fix and move fast
Celebrate your successes and correct what has not worked. Perform the four corrective measures to achieve greater results:
- Change the medium of marketing (Controlled experimentation is ok)
- Change project champion or team members
- Revise your marketing performance targets
- Revisit marketing strategy and tactics
Your firm’s marketing program should be weighed against qualified lead generation and sales growth.
Consultancy firms, whether owned by sole practitioners or partners, should not try ‘to be all things for all people’ in their marketing efforts. Focus on niche marketing. Your firm’s marketing program has achieved success when it brings you two things:
- Qualified leads
- Unsolicited inquiries
Marketing is about persuasion; persuasion leads to action. The best persuasion strategy for S&M consultancy firms is to:
- Set marketing objectives
- Develop Buyer Personas
- Develop CVP to differentiate your brand from competitors
- Select Marketing Platforms
- Fix budget & Responsibility
- Celebrate Small Achievements
- Review Performance & Fix Broken Links
- Practice Commitment & Discipline