Build a Marketing Activity Map | Professional Services

Build a Marketing Activity Map | Professional Services

A ‘marketing map’ gives an aerial overview of an organisation’s full range of marketing activities. This enables management to work better as a team and deliver the highest quality services to clients. This article of of benefit to Marketing Directors in professional services delivering to management. 

There are many ways to slice a marketing cake. The following works well:

  • Content creation
  • Business development, and
  • Services delivery to clients

This is a cycle of activity, feeding one into another:

Cycle of Marketing Activity

Now let’s briefly consider some definitions for our map.

Content creation is crucial to informing our clients and potential clients about our services and fee earners and, most importantly, it is a means of confirming the firm’s credentials in the marketplace as an expert. It covers content for digital marketing, content marketing and of course advertising campaigns. Print marketing remains important.

The focus here is on guiding clients and potential clients on the journey to purchasing professional services.

At its simplest, the raison d’etre of business development is to generate enquiries. There is skill in attracting enquiries which are appropriate and line up with the services on offer. Here we need to deliver appropriate digital content, engage in awareness or visibility marketing, roll out the campaigns we have created, and engage in event marketing which usually overlaps with partner marketing (joint events with other professionals or academia) and account marketing which is focused strongly on major client accounts.

The focus here is on constant improvement of the client acquisition journey.

The best form of marketing is great client service. It is well known that services delivered to repeat clients are far more profitable than services delivered to new clients. We guesstimate from experience that around 30% extra effort is expended in a transaction when bringing on board a new client, as compared to an existing client.

A services delivery programme is clearly a crucial activity, as is client satisfaction measurement. These feed into one another. Training and internal marketing and communications are key elements.

The focus here is on constant improvement of the client service experience.

Now we have a skeleton map which looks something like the illustration below.

Marketing Activity Map Professional Services Definitions

Let’s begin to add some flesh – this is where it begins to get interesting and more than a little tricky.

We are in an increasingly digital world, so let’s start there. A website is central to delivery of content. In the professional services world, there are three types of inter-related content which websites deliver: expert profiles, services, and knowledge articles. This content – about which more below when discussing content marketing campaigns – acts to confirm the credentials of the firm’s experts, and of course the firm itself.

A content strategy is used to pull your target market into your website, with the express purpose of generating enquiries. There are three strands:

  1. Drive content strategy with owned media
  2. Encourage sharing with paid media
  3. SEO and brand visibility with earned media

Owned media, such as the firm’s Twitter and LinkedIn accounts, are used to push out the content to our target audience – focusing on the knowledge articles. For law firms, accountants and other professions, this content needs to be evergreen as far as possible and presented as such. The rules in any given profession tend not to change frequently, after all. A scheduling tool is necessary once content begins to build up. We are currently using Blog2Social.

Paid media, such as Google PPC, are used to deliver adverts to our target audience. An advantage of paid media is that we can reach beyond our current client base more readily. A focus on search engine optimisation (SEO) is important as is having a clear keyword strategy. Our approach is to emphasise short-tail keywords in paid media and to reinforce or amplify this with similar long-tail keywords in our knowledge articles.

Earned media is a little nebulous but it refers to the production of content which ‘earns’ shares, which is an important goal, though one which is difficult to achieve. In truth, you know you are well on the way to having decent content if it is being reshared regularly and increasing your audience.

With these digital elements included, our marketing activity map looks as follows.

2 Marketing Activity Map Digital Elements

In our view, the provision of great client service is the most valuable aspect of positive marketing there is. The goal is to have our clients be ‘fans’ of the firm and to recommend us to their colleagues, family and friends.

There are two major modules in the map:

  • Handling new enquiries i.e. enquiries from non-clients
  • Client relationship management

with the latter being the more important, though the former comes a close second.

The enquiry handling system needs to be efficient, rapid and professional, exuding the correct image from the start. Data collection (and easy access to and analysis of that data) should cover as a minimum how the potential client heard of the firm (source), the type of work, the value, and of course conversion rate of enquiries turned into clients. There is a stronger focus on relevant, high value enquiries. It is important to deliver an early, polite ‘no’ to non-relevant enquiries to ensure a professional image even on these occasions.

As presented here, the client relationship management (CRM) system is specifically focused on the existing (including past) client base with a view to gaining a clear picture of them by type and value as it changes over time. This information is used to develop a strategy for delivering targeted events and content, with the underlying goal of increasing awareness of the firm’s full range of services to all clients.

Turning next to client satisfaction measurement, this feeds back into delivery of great client service. There are two modules – internal and external client reviews.

Internal client review measurement refers to surveys and interviews of clients which are not made public. These will sometimes be carried out internally, and sometimes by external consultants – for example, mystery shoppers, in order to get a good feel for what it’s like to deal with the firm.

External client review measurement refers to third party reviews such as Google Reviews or Trust Pilot. These need to be connected to the website in order to feedback positive experience to site visitors.

With these client service elements included, our marketing activity map looks as follows. The more complex systems are already mapped out at this stage.

3 Marketing Acitivity Map Client Service Elements

Now let’s complete the outstanding modules for content creation.

Content marketing campaigns are focused on areas of specialist expertise. For example, in an accountancy firm, this could be business start-ups or retirement planning. These are integrated into a “Knowledge Base” which we note is inter alia published to the website and pushed out on social and paid media to generate enquiries.

It is a constant requirement to generate new advertising concepts which act as the basis for advertising campaigns. Bigger firms will make use of agencies.

Finally in this area of content creation, but far from least, is print marketing: this covers everything from business cards to stationery and advertising boards.

There is an important role of monitoring the use of the firm’s brand especially by staff – sometimes referred to as brand policing. There is also a good deal of skill in ensuring that the firm’s brand looks good in all settings – what works on paper will not work on screen nor on a perimeter advertising board.

Brand refresh is also included as a rare potential activity. This is something which I’ve had the pleasure of doing in house. Most will outsource this to an agency, but this will nevertheless involve significant effort in keeping the project within scope and on budget.

Now let’s complete the outstanding modules for business development.

All firms tend to do at least some awareness or visibility marketing – this might be sponsoring sports events or clubs, or charitable organisations to support their fundraising. What is often trickiest for the marketing team is when there is a sudden opportunity for sponsorship which you would like to undertake. When this happens, there is a requirement to pull resources in quickly to achieve your goal.

Proof-of-expertise activities – e.g. in the legal sector Chambers or the Legal 500 – provide a strong positive message to existing and potential clients because the award is from a third party. Opportunities for celebration – this could range from NHS staff awards to a 100th year anniversary celebration – are an opportunity to reach out to existing clients.

When rolling out advertising campaigns, it takes time to negotiate with advertisers. Sometimes there will be annual arrangements in place, but regularly there is a need to engage on a campaign-by-campaign basis.

Event and partner marketing is also a useful activity for connecting with clients (Christmas and summer events for example) and business partners respectively. Partner marketing provides an opportunity for e.g. law firms and accountants or financial advisers to work together to deliver an expert seminar jointly to a crossover of clients from each organisation.

And, finally, let’s complete the two outstanding modules for client service.

Internal marketing is hugely important for the delivery of great client service; the firm’s staff need to be clear as to what is expected of them when dealing with clients. Even for a small business, an intranet or some similar central resource is vital to give all staff easy access to the latest marketing material. It may be that Microsoft Teams or Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) will offer this functionality, though it is important that it is very easy to navigate.

Training is essential on two levels. Arguably the more important is the provision of general marketing training to all staff, starting with their induction when they join the firm. A new member of staff should not have to have to scrabble around trying to find material and guess at what the firm’s approach may be.

Marketing staff need ongoing training, usually with a particular focus on keeping up to date with the latest technological developments in the marketing world.

With these elements included, the full version of our marketing activity map is as follows.

Marketing Activity Map Professional Services Full Version

Conclusion

This article provides an overview of the typical activities of a marketing function. Its main purpose is to provide visibility of your marketing activities to your management team. It refers to the experience of professional services, but it can be amended to suit most small and medium sized organisations.

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