"Doing marketing" is not the same as having a comprehensive Marketing Strategy to powerfully focus your limited resources for maximum impact.
What kind of impact? More and better referrals, shorter sales cycles, higher profits, and the joy of having your book full of your best clients. Do those sound like vague, meatless claims? I hope not.
Contrary to popular opinion, it's not execution that limits the marketing impact of most firms. It's a lack of focus. Consequently, a snazzy new web site, new branding treatment, or infusion of new technology won't fix the problem of big efforts producing small results. You have to re-think the problem.
Even the right focus won't create great marketing if you don't have a strategy to stay focused. Many hard-charging professional services firms go directly to tactics such as "fixing" their website, developing content and creating email campaigns. Tactics-without-strategy easily become oppressive masters rather than servants. You need marketing that delivers the Revenue, Profits, and higher quality Clients to drive your business to the next level. Those aren't wishful ideals; those are strategic imperatives for a vibrant firm.
If the market is getting more competitive, why do you expect your marketing to become less hands-on?
The goal of marketing is to help potential clients make a decision. They must know why your firm is a better choice compared to other options for their needs, their situation, and their resources. If you don't think your potential clients have other options, you're delusional. Highlighting how you're "different" from other firms rather than focusing on why you are a better choice is marketing to yourself. It feels good, but it doesn't produce the results you need.
Does your marketing confuse being different or "unique" with being better?
Getting to the meaty bits of why clients select your firm requires setting aside your own biases. That's hard. Not why you would select your firm. Not why they ought to select your firm. Not all the valuable things you can do for them after they select your firm. Why your best clients select your firm over other options. My relentless focus on learning the depths of this question changes how the firms I work with think about marketing.
The answer is revealing, and often freeing. Think of it as your firm's "Secret Sauce." Unlocking The One Question is transform how you think about marketing.
Your secret sauce is what truly sets you above other providers in the eyes of your best clients.
Unfortunately, your secret sauce is often obscured by marketing groupthink. It's easier to focus on what you want your secret sauce to be rather than finding out what it really is.
Even firms at the top of their game cling to the belief that technical expertise at a reasonable price trumps everything else. As a fellow professional, for years I wanted to believe this was true. Actually, that's not how you want to be evaluated. That's how clients evaluate commodities. Your best clients select you over and over again for reasons that are more subtle.
Unlocking your secret sauce isn't like getting bit by a radioactive spider, but you'll be amazed at how powerful—and freeing—the experience is.
Under-utilizing your secret sauce puts a drag on Revenue, Profits, and winning more of your Best Clients.
Coming face-to-face with the reasons your best clients select your firm is like putting on new glasses. Whether you implement with internal staff or an agency, your new perspective will be invaluable for generating the results you expect. (Agencies will tell you they do all this, but that's because they don't know what they've been missing. They get pretty excited when they see the synthesized data they get to leverage.)
Unless you see The Why through your clients' eyes, best practices are merely disconnected actions you ought to do. Working from The Why builds a clear bridge between what you do and what happens.
I love what I do. One of the greatest joys I get from my work is seeing established professionals who no long hate marketing. They know what to do, why it will work, and they have a plan that matches their capabilities and resources. Their journey often starts with dreams of no-effort marketing, passes through the frustrating and mysterious world of "professional marketing," before finally landing in what some call the refreshing world of "real marketing."