The relentless rise of online services and tools in people’s personal and professional lives is changing the way people both buy and market professional services, according to Mike Schultz, John Doerr and Lee Frederiksen in their book Professional Services Marketing: How the Best Firms Build Premier Brands, Thriving Leader Generation Engines and Cultures of Business Development Success, second edition. Marketing techniques that worked so dependably in the past are no longer sufficient by themselves to sustain growth into the future.
It is interesting to compare the differences between the first and second editions of the book. A chapter on content marketing has been added, and the chapter on marketing communications and lead generation has been updated to reflect the importance of online marketing techniques. Most of the other chapters have been revised and some content has been removed, but the book still gives a comprehensive overview of offline marketing as well as online.
One interesting difference is that the chapter formerly entitled “On Being Unique and Other Bad Marketing Advice” has been retitled “Differentiating Your Firm”. Although the authors still convey their scepticism about the importance of differentiation for professional services firms, perhaps differentiation is more significant for online marketing. The professional services marketplace is, according to the authors, one of “monopolistic competition”, in which opaque non-price differences between firms give producers a degree of control over the prices they can charge. The Internet forces a greater degree of transparency, pushing firms more towards competition than monopoly.
I am not sure about the extent to which reliance can be placed on the research results appearing in the book, because the authors’ methods are not explained in sufficient detail. For example, chapter 16 contains a potentially very useful chart showing the relative effectiveness of different lead generation methods, derived from a survey of more than 700 professional service firms. The results can be trusted if they reflected actual measurements that the firms had made, but they are of little worth if they simply reflect respondents’ unsupported opinions, particularly in respect of marketing tactics that they have not even tried.
In my view this book should be an essential part of any professional services firm’s library.