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Do Professional Service Firms Need a CMO?

In this edition capturing observed trends across professional service firms (PSFs), we provide an answer to a question we are getting with increased frequency: Do we need a CMO?

The discussions we find ourselves in typically start with some basic questions:

How do we develop a firm-wide marketing strategy?

Do we actually need a firm-wide marketing strategy?

Can a CMO be successful in a role where direct reports are aligned to take direction from practice and geographic leaders?

Where should decision making rights for marketing actually be held?

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Three Professional Services Growth Trends

That trap is the assumption that clients and potential clients are seeking this dispensed wisdom at particular times and in particular ways. While that is sometimes true, we find that most high-likelihood buyers of premium professional goods and services come to the table with already well-articulated existing needs. The curse of the expert is the auto-pilot presentation and practiced responses from advisory and other professionals that while really good, often miss the mark. They miss not because they are wrong but because they are not properly informed by specific client needs. The antidote is simple and often over-looked. Whether it is a large-venue conference speech or a one-on-one pitch meeting, know before you go by asking these three questions: 1) who exactly is my audience, 2) what are the front-burner issues they are grappling with right now, 3) how can I precisely apply my expertise to those immediate challenges. It sounds simple but is the single largest missed opportunity we encounter.

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Three Trends Changing Professional Services (and a prediction)

Like every industry, professional services have been in the midst of a radical transformation. Increasingly sophisticated competitors with non-traditional business models have gained acceptance and forced many firms to re-think how they attract and serve clients. As major firms grow (largely thought acquisition) and client needs change, firm brand, reputation and ‘social-proof’ are no longer enough to break through the noise and secure new business. Throughout our careers, we’ve seen this evolution first hand and continue to see it in today’s rapidly changing professional services environment. Three trends have taken center stage in the 1st Half of 2017:

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Dear CMO Part III: Two Killer Tactics to Deepen Your Customer Engagement in 2016

With some planning and forethought, these can be easily replicated. Doing so will help you move past purely lead gen activities and into more robust relationship building with your customers. These approaches will also help create a “stickiness” that solidifies these relationships over time, while creating raving fans along the way and a more direct and prominent client-facing role for the marketing function.

The strategies come in two different but related forms – creating and delivering experiential customer workshops and the use of influencer activation strategies – both designed to capture the imagination of new and existing buyers while providing you with valuable insights that will fuel sales and inform a range of important business decisions.


Dear CMO Part II: Place the Voice-of-the-Customer at the Center of All You Do

In this Part II follow-on, the focus is on correctives in the form of concrete approaches to making these marketing activities truly customer-centric and drawing upon examples from our work across multiple industries and company types.

We see that organizations who use these approaches are creating and delivering content in new ways, ensuring more relevant outcomes, generating more meaningful interaction, and expanding sales with their targeted customers.