Professional Services Marketing Part 12

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Menu of common performance and emotional resonance words and themes used by service firm taglines and brand promise statements.

Achievement Advancement Advantage Balance Care Change Clarity Client Commitment Comprehensive Connection Control Creativity



Empowerment Exceed Excel ence Expectations Experience Expertise Extraordinary Fame Focus Future Global Health Ideas Independence Influence Innovation Insight Integrated Integrity Knowledge Leader Leverage Local Loyalty Partner Pa.s.sion Performance Personal Pleasure Power Practical Prestige Recognition Reliability Respect Results Sense Service Solution Specialist Strategic Strength Success Teamwork Thinking Total Tradition Trust Unique Value Vision Wealth Wisdom Review the marketing messages of almost any firm, and it's fairly easy to take their core messages and put them into these buckets. Regarding message construction, there is no rote formula or specific path you should take. If you can be clear and have a solid architecture to deliver this messaging, you're in great shape. Eloquence is even better, but clarity and intel igent message construction go a long way.

A few examples of the key components of positioning messaging for different types of firms are shown in the table. As you look at them, don't take them to be examples of excel ence or examples of mistakes to avoid. Think of it like this: How do you get across at a high level your five Ws and one H so you can establish an initial fit with buyers?

Accenture is an example of how this al works together. The firm does a fabulous job of cascading its marketing messaging from positioning messaging through substantiation messaging.

The name Accenture is derived from two words, accent and future. A team member at Accenture came up with the name as part of an internal contest to help the firm rename itself. Thus the name is based in the realities of the perception that at least one internal staffer had about the firm-a good start, for sure.



Figure 14.2 Accenture One-Pager A s Figure 14.2 shows, the Accenture logo is simple, and the tagline "High Performance. Delivered." has two key concepts. The first, performance, is obviously an umbrel a for topics that focus on performance resonance. The second, delivered, seems to make a statement about a core value (we get things done) as wel as emotional resonance. A buyer might say, "I've hired so many firms that don't do what they say they're going to do. They don't deliver the results they say they wil deliver. If Accenture can, I'l be so much happier." And, of course, if you deliver, there are obvious implications for performance resonance.

If, indeed, the buyer has had experiences with other firms that don't deliver, don't perform, and don't help the buyer perform, then the tagline sets the stage for differentiation as wel .

But it doesn't actualy differentiate because it's very easy for another firm to say the same thing. And it doesn't make the case that Accenture can actual y deliver performance. It just sets a stage to do that later.

Continue in the overal positioning and stage setting, as the messages get deeper and more detailed, the same umbrela structure works.

Figure 14.3 Accenture Advertis.e.m.e.nt with Tiger Woods Consider an advertis.e.m.e.nt of Accenture's-also an example of positioning messaging. (See Figure 14.3.) Tiger Woods is a perfect choice, as he epitomizes high performance and winning. He's also the right celebrity to make an emotional connection with buyers. "He's the best. I want to a.s.sociate with the best. I want my company to perform in my industry like Tiger does in golf." From a graphical perspective, the advertis.e.m.e.nt is designed with simple but impeccable copywriting and art direction.

Figure 14.4 Accenture Ad Copy You think we are impressed with the Accenture example so far? What we real y like is shown in Figure 14.4.

The copy has an offer! The offer is an a.s.set that substantiates a research-based, a.n.a.lytical approach! Other firms may have research, but they don't have this research, so it's distinct! Deep dive messaging connected to positioning messaging! In the research, Accenture then has the ability to connect deeply with buyers and to demonstrate its insight and ability to deliver high performance.

What happens with many firms that are wiling to spend good money and effort to get in this marketing excelence league, even those that have done the right brand research to come up with the right messages?

* They spend amazingly disproportionately on graphic design and copywriting versus outreach. Firms spend a year coming up with messages and designs, then buy brochures that sit in boxes, build web sites that make no effort to generate visits, and do little sustained outreach to the market.

* They skip the deep dive messaging (no white papers, no events, no research) and lose the ability to make a connection other than a glance at a logo.

* If they do create interactions with their firms through various marketing offers available to them, fol ow-up is anemic or nonexistent.

Through substantiation messaging, the key to establis.h.i.+ng overal distinction in the minds of buyers, you have the opportunity to communicate and substantiate the key messages you need buyers to understand: * "We fit"-Through our overal positioning and messaging you understand that we're the right firm for you. You start to connect with us and want to engage us.

* "We fix"-Here are the problems we can solve and the future we can help create for you. We fix these problems.

* "We get it"-We real y stand out to you because we get it, and other people and firms don't. And we get you, and other people and firms don't.

* "We can do it"-Through our research, case studies, references, books, client list, speeches, and personal interactions with you, you not only get the sense that we say what we can get done and what it wil be like to work with us, but you believe it to be true.

Messages and Graphic Designs Now, here is some advice about developing messages and the graphic designs that support them.

Dither (n): A state of indecisive agitation: Company management was in a dither about the new round of graphic designs, marketing copy, and corporate messaging. Everybody had strong opinions on what they liked and didn't like.

Dilatory (adj): Tending to postpone or delay: The graphic design and messaging process had a dilatory effect on our ability to do anything in marketing besides work on designs. Could this drag out any longer?

Delusion (n): Psychiatry. A false belief strongly held in spite of invalidating evidence, especialy as a symptom of mental ilness: The team seemed under the delusion that choosing between possible brochure trim colors of papaywhip, peachpuff, or peru would 42 make any difference in marketing results.

When firms build new web sites, brochures, and logos for their organizations, they scrutinize them with fanatical zeal. "Everyone is going to see them and form an opinion about us based on them. They must be . . . they wil be . . . perfect!" (Even if the process of doing so kil s us.) This intense graphic design and messaging scrutiny is especialy true in service organizations. Why?

* Aggressive, proactive marketing is just catching on with some service industries.

* Besides answering the phone, service firms have always put great stock in very nice brochures. Thus, much of the marketing attention was focused on them.

* Service businesses are run by experts in their field. Thoughtful and experienced as they are, they haven't spent years in the marketing department at a major corporation; and they aren't schooled, and often aren't interested, in graphic design excel ence.

* The people who deliver the services tend to a.s.sociate themselves personal y with any ad or graphic design that depicts their service.

Thus, they identify the quality of the marketing piece as a reflection of the quality of their own work.

* Service firms are fil ed with smart people. They al have opinions and, indeed, would consider it a failing if they didn't add intel igent, constructive criticism to everything. Graphic design and messaging are simply easy targets.

As a result, when a service business decides it's going to "real y do some marketing," everyone gets overly caught up in the graphic design and development process.

The same pathology happens over and over. It goes something like this: * Marketing initiative is kicked off with vigor and enthusiasm.

* New design of something-branding, brochures, or web site-becomes a central component of the marketing effort.

* A large group of stakeholders becomes part of the design review team.

* The process takes forever.

* People lose energy as the process drags on.

* n.o.body focuses on the "let's get new clients" part of marketing with the same vigor they do when choosing web site trim colors and deciding whether they're more results oriented, performance oriented, or return-on-investment (ROI) oriented.

The purpose of marketing-the end prize-should never be anything but the fol owing: Attract and retain profitable clients. Al too often we see companies getting so caught up in the visible and s.e.xy part of the marketing process (design, copy) that they forget about the important-but-mundane part (lead and revenue generation).

Here are five pieces of advice that could save your marketing initiatives from the graphic design and corporate messaging pit of despair.

1. Keep Your Eyes on the Prize Is it possible that you should disregard this chapter and pore over your designs and copy for months, al the way down to the last comma, pixel, and Pantone color? Sure-if you're about to spend tens of mil ions of dol ars on an advertising campaign that wil create hundreds of mil ions of impressions.

You can be sure that companies executing campaigns this large are also doing the folowing: extensive market research, testing each ad for customer response, researching each market, and many other steps before the launch. And they're prepared to turn on a dime if they find a new creative approach that wil work better to help them win the prize: attracting and retaining profitable customers.

2. Collaborate with Care Most design processes have too many people involved. In the name of col aboration, companies make the design process muddled and painful.

Balance the benefits of col aboration with the knowledge that too many cooks make for bad soup.

3. Apply Ockham's Razor Fourteenth-century philosopher Wil iam of Ockham is famous for a statement known as Ockham's razor: Plurality should not be posited without necessity. In other words, unless proven otherwise, less is more. Apply this to your creative process by asking yourself questions like: * Do we need eight people here when, in the end, the design wil be just as good (if not better) with three people involved; and we wil get finished two months earlier?

* Do we need another round of design edits in order to help us attract and retain profitable customers, or can we stop now and move on?

* Do we need more design features such as Flash introductions on our web sites and a six-color process for our brochures when they won't make a difference to our clients?

Applying Ockham's razor to the design process wil help you save time and money and wil prevent a good deal of heartache.

4. Don't Rewire the Network Yourself Let's say you are a CEO at a leaders.h.i.+p consulting firm and your company is replanning its technology infrastructure. Would you tel the technologists where to put the wires? Whether to use fiber optics or something else? Whether version 6.3 of one software package is more robust than version 3.2 of another? You'd be laughed out of the room. If the technologists don't do a good job of listening to your business needs and implementing technology that wil help serve those needs, get new technology people. Don't try to fix it yourself.

If you are not a designer, ask questions like "We're going to use this at a trade show. Wil this help us attract attention and generate leads? How so?" and "How does this design compare to designs of companies you feel are best in breed?" instead of questions like "Don't you think a hunter green would be better?" In the end, if you don't think your designers are doing a good job, get new designers. Don't try to be one of them. As Emerson said, "The poet is the sayer, the namer, and represents beauty." If you're the client, hire the poet and help direct the poetry. Pick up a pen yourself, though, and it's rare you'l do anything but muddy the composition.

Many people may have the folowing t.i.tles: attorney, consultant, and doctor. If you need to win a major case in court, or if you need to figure out whether you want to spin off a $500,000 subsidiary in Central America, or if you need a liver transplant, you need credentials, experience, and talent. There's simply no subst.i.tute for the same when it comes to graphic design and marketing messaging.

5. Stop the Insanity If you find yourself spiraling into design, messaging, and copywriting process despair, it's time to stop the insanity. If the current discussion is either overkil or distracting you from that goal, put an end to it. Do what you must to save yourself and your company from wasting time and energy on discussions that won't make a difference in results.

Dither (n): A state of indecisive agitation: We don't dither about design, messaging, and copywriting. We run the process wel , have the right people and skil sets on the team, and make decisions that help leverage graphic design to grow our revenue.

Dilatory (adj): Tending to postpone or delay: Others tried to slow us down by distracting us from our marketing goals and focusing too much on superfluous discussions. Their dilatory tactics won't work on us!

Delusion (n): Psychiatry. A false belief strongly held in spite of invalidating evidence, especialy as a symptom of mental ilness: I drank the punch and no longer operate under the delusion that marketing equals graphic design. Marketing equals growing our revenue. Graphic design is a great tool in the process, but not the process itself.

The definitions are the same, but you have the power to change how you use them in a sentence.


On Becoming a Thought Leader Thinking is easy, acting is difficult, and to put one's thoughts into action is the most difficult thing in the world.

-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Jim, a CPA, wanted to grow his business and create new clients. Years ago, partly by accident, he discovered that there was a whole little world- condominium a.s.sociations-in which he could become a thought leader. He already had a few condo a.s.sociation clients, and realized: * They had special tax, financial, operational, and management needs from an accounting and business perspective.

* Condo a.s.sociations made similar mistakes that, if avoided, could save them a lot of money and heartache.

* Wel -managed condo a.s.sociations had a lot in common from a management and financial perspective.

He started speaking and writing about the nuances of condo a.s.sociation accounting, management, and reporting.

Soon he became known as "The Condo King." As his royal reputation grew, condo a.s.sociations al over the region would cal him, because anything written on the topic had his name a.s.sociated with it. After some time, he could barely keep up with the speaking engagement requests and new business opportunities. It became a very nice, successful practice for him.

His Highness the Condo King shared his story with us. "People cal me al the time now; but when I started out, I did not think I would corner the condo a.s.sociation market. I did recognize the niche where I could make a difference, and I found it interesting. Plus, I was wil ing to put in the time and effort to do a good job speaking and writing. The rest just fol owed."

There are thought leaders of al kinds in the business world. Some are the "big T" Thought Leaders, the names many recognize: Tom Peters, Seth G.o.din, Peter Drucker, Michael Porter, Bil Gates. Others are "little t" thought leaders, who reach their defined niche market and do it wel (His Highness, King of Condos).

Regardless of their ultimate reach, thought leaders share their ideas with their target markets. They are writing books, delivering seminars, and leading panels in industry organizations. They are writing columns in journals read by the people in their field. By speaking, writing, and teaching, they inspire and influence people and create new business opportunities for themselves and their firms.

Thought leaders.h.i.+p itself is not a new topic in professional services, but it's becoming much more prevalent. The emergence of thought leaders.h.i.+p as a mainstream marketing topic creates both a chal enge and an opportunity for would-be thought leaders.

The chalenge: Articles, white papers, webinars, teleseminars, seminars, podcasts, and books are everywhere on almost every business topic.

The opportunity: Much of what purports to be thought leaders.h.i.+p is not very good; it is "sound and fury, signifying nothing." Lightweights are everywhere with weak writing, retread ideas, lack of rigor, poor presentations, specious arguments, and flimsy research.

Ten years ago fewer people were publis.h.i.+ng and speaking, and fewer firms had thought leaders.h.i.+p on the priority list as an explicit marketing strategy. Succeeding with thought leaders.h.i.+p was a bit easier, as the decision was more binary than anything: speak and write, or don't speak and write. Professionals who journeyed down the path of speaking and writing, a.s.suming a modic.u.m of competence, were apt to succeed.

"I think that marketing, at a minimum, should help lawyers become thought leaders in clearly defined markets, particularly those markets tightly aligned with a firm's experience, expertise, capabilities, and growth goals."

-Kevin McMurdo, Chief Marketing Officer, Perkins Coie Not so anymore. As Fiona Czerniawska wrote in an article on RainToday .com, "If you look at the web sites of the world's top 40 consulting firms (in terms of revenue), there are almost 3,500 articles and reports positioned as thought leaders.h.i.+p-and that's leaving out the tens of thousands of case studies and descriptions of services that don't justify the label."

She goes on to say, "Around one-third of the bona fide material addresses strategy-related issues-studies of new or emerging markets, planning tools, and so on. Another third focuses on more operational topics, such as business process efficiency, technology, procurement, and outsourcing. The remaining third is made up from a whole host of topics, from leaders.h.i.+p to cost control."

With fewer and fewer people in the don't-speak-and-write category, turning the switch from "off" to "on" is now just the price of entry. Once you're in, it's a dogfight to get traction. For those who succeed, thought leaders.h.i.+p as much as ever can be one of the greatest compet.i.tive marketing advantages to your firm.

Two Keys and Eight Pillars of Thought Leaders.h.i.+p Thought leaders.h.i.+p is one of those topics that engenders never-ending "what you need to do" lists. At the 50,000-foot level, thought leaders.h.i.+p works when your ideas resonate with decision makers and influencers. Doing that requires only two key things: 1. Quality of intel ectual capital.

2. Exposure of intel ectual capital to the market.

One without the other doesn't work very wel.


Some of the current and aspiring thought leaders we interviewed expressed distaste for setting an explicit goal of establis.h.i.+ng a personal brand and maximizing market exposure.

Let's a.s.sume you come to the table with the pa.s.sion for your field and the guts to make an impact with your thinking. If that's true, why shouldn't you plan explicitly to use al the marketing, public relations (PR), and branding tools that you can to maximize your reach? If you want to change hearts and minds and show the world a better way, you need the spotlight. If you have good-quality intel ectual capital to share, there's no room for sheepishness and mixed feelings about standing out.

An a.s.set is an item of economic value owned by an individual or corporation, especialy something that could be converted to cash. Thought leaders.h.i.+p is an a.s.set43 for you and your firm. You have to capitalize on your a.s.set, or you're not getting the type of return you can.

"What I've done over the years is I've made a huge investment in long-term success. All those articles I've written that you've read, I didn't get paid to write those articles. Many of the conferences and speeches I've given, I've done for free. All the boards I've been on, I don't get paid. Like the Drucker Foundation-I don't get paid for that.

My web site: I give away all the materials, and I don't get paid for that. So I've made a huge investment. . . . Be willing to invest for the long haul. Be willing to invest when there's no short-term payoff, and be willing to make personal sacrifice for long-term positive brand enhancement. Most professionals are not willing to do that."

-Dr. Marshall Goldsmith Quality of intel ectual capital is, of course, subjective. With notable exceptions, too much so-cal ed intel ectual capital doesn't deserve the label.

People dive in to write articles, write a white paper, or deliver seminars because these are "good marketing things to do." Without rigorous inquiry and attention to quality, they're bad marketing things to do.

Professional Services Marketing Part 12

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Professional Services Marketing Part 12 summary

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