By Sylvia Montgomery
Marketing is not for the risk-adverse. In fact, being a marketer means that unpredictability and the prospect of failure lie just around the corner. That means that every day, marketers are being challenged, learning and growing.
On Oct. 18, I spent the day among a group of marketers who graciously shared their failures and lessons learned. As a panelist speaking on the topic of B2B Marketing at the Mid-Atlantic Marketing Summit, I also got to listen to my industry peers talk about the latest and hottest marketing topics. Below is my take on three of the top marketing themes and their relationship to professional services marketing.
Theme #1: Branding still matters.
Brands are experienced internally and externally. For professional services, it's crucial to understand the difference. The more you can see your company for what it truly is in the eyes of your clients, the closer you will be to having a clear and defensible value proposition. As we’ve shared in prior posts, firms that conduct regular research on their target markets grow 3X faster and are up to 2X more profitable.
Theme #2: Online power.
At least once a day I talk to a professional services executive who is convinced that nobody would ever search for services (engineering, accounting, etc.) online. Of course, it's not about what an executive thinks; it’s about where their clients are actually looking for information. And today, a significant number of people go to Google for information on a myriad of topics. Searching for professional services is no different. Professional services firms benefit when they are present, in a relevant and useful manner, to their clients and on the devices that their clients are using — online, on mobile devices and offline.
Theme #3: Nimbleness is in. Rigidness is out.
I call it agile marketing. Long gone are the days when you would plan for a year (or even a quarter) of marketing and make no course changes along the way. With marketing automation, CRMs and analytics, marketers can see how their web visitors behave. They can understand which of their online content produces the highest conversions rates and what factors are driving leads and revenues. In an age of instant gratification, testing and adjusting can have a tremendous impact on a professional services firm's lead generation activities.
While data alone can’t replace your instincts and experience, it can make marketing a better partner with sales and business development. Data gives marketers the ability to directly impact revenue. That means you no longer have to plan on faith; you can point to the evidence. In this new world of marketing, failures become apparent sooner — before they do too much damage. And data give you the power to learn from those mistakes. That's a tremendous advantage.
It was an honor to be part of such an intense and spirited marketing summit. If you are in the mid-Atlantic region next spring, check it out — you won’t be disappointed.
The Mid-Atlantic Marketing Summit is co-produced by Potomac Tech Wire, a source for the area's technology news, and Capitol Communicator, the region's source for marketing and communications news. The Summit brings together hundreds of advertising, marketing, communications and media executives to discuss high-level marketing and communications issues.
Sylvia Montgomery, CPSM, is senior partner at Hinge Marketing,twitter @BrandStrong