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Why marketers are undervalued in Professional Services firms and what to do about it

Why marketers are undervalued in Professional Services firms and what to do about it

By Jim Thompson

I may put a few noses out of joint here but my own outside anecdotal experience leads me to contend that marketing and therefore by extension marketers in professional services firms are generally speaking, undervalued.

They are certainly not held in the same regard as a fee earning Partner, not that I have seen anyway.

Why not, why aren’t marketers seen as a critical trusted adviser within the firm, why aren’t they as important as a client facing fee earner?

I think the answer is simple and in many ways I see it as the professions own fault.

It rests with the inability of marketers to present true, tangible, measurable results of their work and their effectiveness in terms of new client acquisition and margin contribution, two key drivers of a firm’s or a Partner’s success.

Too much focus is on the brand and old world marketing techniques, what they know, what they feel comfortable with and ironically what can’t be measured.

I guess the upside is if it can’t be measured then no one can say that it’s not working.

But is that really an upside, do you really want to be held largely unaccountable from an objective, measurable perspective?

And I’m not talking engagement here or other fluffy brand based metrics I’m talking about new business generation and my contention is that despite what the text books might say, this is the true underlying role of marketing, to generate business.

Yes the firm’s brand is important and perhaps to date that’s all you’ve had to work with but it’s absolutely secondary from a digital marketing perspective.


Because the brand doesn’t deliver the work, the people do and the brand messages are all pretty much the same anyway.

This is why digital is a marketer’s greatest ally.

A properly designed digital lead generation program will generate leads and each individual lead can be tracked measured, costed and directly attributed to your individual marketing initiatives. There are no grey areas or leaps of faith required; in fact in most cases if a certain tactic doesn’t work it won’t cost you anything.

How do you think your own value would be perceived if your work was directly generating hundreds of quality new business leads every year and you could easily report and demonstrate the activity?

  • How do you think your next salary negotiation would pan out?
  • How would it feel to be in high demand internally by each division because they can see what you’re doing for another?
  • How much would the Partners in your firm fear you jumping ship and implementing a highly successful digital lead generation program with a competitor?

Yes of course your results will be highly visible and therefore you will be held accountable but without accountability there is no clear, tangible and demonstrable value.

That’s right, your value is directly proportional to your results and how difficult you are to replace, the simple law of supply and demand.

Ultimately the choice is yours, you can stay in your comfort zone, continuing with the text book stuff you know so well but the question is, for how long?

Digital isn’t going away anytime soon so jump on now, unleash the power of a strategic digital lead generation program and put yourself and your firm ahead of the pack before someone else does.

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