How to Achieve Best in Class Professional Services Marketing Results
- Industry research is used to surface and replicate the most effective revenue growth strategies and marketing methods used by the Best-in-Class Professional Services Marketing Organizations (e.g., the top 15 percent).
- When you replicate the practices that most drive revenue growth for the industry's top performers you can achieve similar results.
3 High Impact Professional Services Marketing Best Practices
We filtered the data and research findings from the most recent Business Growth Report and Marketing Transformation Report to bear down on the marketing strategies and methods that delivered the biggest revenue impact for the professional service industry's top performers.
Marketing organizations were scored and ranked by their pipeline contribution, revenue contribution and return on marketing investment (ROMI). The Best-in-Class marketers scored in top 15 percent. Here are the methods they most use along with insights so that others can pursue a journey to Best-in-Class performance.
These methods and insights fold into the Johnny Grow Services Growth Formula in order to shift research into prescriptive action.
In the services industry, some marketing methods have much higher impact than others. The research revealed the following three best practices were the most influential in achieving sustained revenue growth.
Customer Intelligence & Precision Marketing
The research found that the Best-in-Class professional service marketers solidified their brand, unique value proposition (UVP) and customer intelligence well before they kicked off go-to-market campaigns.
Most started by defining their sustainable competitive advantages and using these advantages to create or strengthen their brand and unique value proposition. Top performers placed much more emphasis on brand development as they know brand conveys industry leadership, stability and trust and is a top differentiating factor among service buyers.
They implemented programs to acquire customer intelligence, including customer segmentation, customer insights and their ideal customer profile (ICP). This data enabled them to define precision marketing campaigns which generated conversions almost twice as high as their lower performing peers.
74 percent of the top marketers implemented Voice of the Customer (VOC) programs which grew customer share and customer lifetime value (CLV) by double digits.
These efforts stood in stark contrast to their lower performing peers who generally broadcasted generic messages to broad audiences.
Customer intelligence enables companies to understand customers on a more personal basis and achieve the strategic marketing goal of delivering relevant, personalized and contextual communications and offers. When you send communications that resonate, as opposed to blind communications or yet more irrelevant offers, clients believe you actually know them and are doing your part to contribute to a real relationship. They also take advantage of those offers more frequently thereby boosting conversion rates and reducing opt-out rates.
For the Best-in-Class marketers, their upfront investment delivered several performance benefits.
- Using an ICP and customer segmentation enabled them pinpoint target markets, apply precision campaigns and achieve 8-14 percent higher lead conversions than their peers. These methods also lowered their cost per lead by 6-21 percent and cost per customer acquisition by 8-25 percent.
- The synergistic combination of customer intelligence, customer insights (by persona) and brand based on a UVP and sustainable competitive advantages increased digital marketing offer conversions by 22-55 percent.
The Best-in-Class Marketers also know their customers better than their competitors and use that knowledge for more relevant engagement and higher conversions. These leaders are delivering the highest business growth and are well underway with their digital marketing transformation.
Campaign Portfolio Optimization
The top professional service marketers heavily used certain types of campaigns, including Account-based Marketing (ABM), content marketing and thought leadership. Most of the leaders applied their thought leadership content to achieve eminence and earned media.
They also showed a propensity for fast experimentation. They reviewed research, learned from peers and were relentless in their pursuit to try different things, measure, iterate and try again. They constantly shifted their campaign portfolio by employing conversion optimization techniques (i.e., A/B testing) and quickly discarding lower performing campaigns in favor of those delivering real results.
There was also much more emphasis on engaging existing customers, for customer growth, customer retention and client win-back campaigns. Increasing customer share is far more impactful in services than most other industries.
The Best-in-Class consistently leveraged marketing automation software with disciplined and measurable lead lifecycle management processes.
Longer sales cycles necessitate clear handoffs between marketing and sales during the customers purchase journey. A defined Sales and Marketing alignment strategy facilitated mutual results, lowered lead leakage and created a synergistic working relationship with the sales organization.
Prescriptive Revenue Analytics
Predictive revenue analytics (PRA) is a forecasting method to achieve consistent and predictable sales pipelines that deliver a continuous flow of new services or projects. When marketers measure their sales funnel stages, durations and conversions, they can forecast future period revenue results. When certain sales funnel stages are weak, they can acquire the types and volume of leads needed to remedy the funnel and ensure a steady flow of new projects in future periods.
For example, if the top of the funnel (TOFU) is weak, marketing can initiate campaigns such as content marketing, nurture marketing, events, SEO, earned media or impressions (ads, display, retargeting).
However, when the middle of the funnel (MOFU) is weak, we know there will be a more near-term shortage of new projects. To remedy this situation, marketing can shift the campaign portfolio to acquire higher quality leads that start further down in the funnel. For example, leads that accelerate faster or start lower in the funnel are sourced from ABM, Pay Per Lead (PPL), Pay Per Click (PPC), referral, retargeting exiting clients and existing client upsell campaigns.
Revenue consistency is critical in the services industry. Labor is the single great cost for service firms and when staff, consultants or billable resources are on the bench service providers accumulate large costs without any revenue offset.
Resource utilization starts with marketing. Service firms need a sales pipeline that delivers a steady stream of continuous projects to keep delivery resources fully utilized. Otherwise, peak demand creates resource shortages, which can delay projects or possibly result in project quality challenges, while lulls in demand keep resources on the bench for extended periods. To avoid resource variability, the pipeline must show visibility by sales stage in order forecast future periods.
Except for the best-in-class, most marketers don't recognize they are the key to sourcing continuous projects and maintaining full resource utilization. It's a complex undertaking as market demand fluctuates and client sale opportunities shift. That's why a data driven analytics framework – such as Predictive Revenue Analytics – is essential to navigate the peaks and valleys of services sales and avoid a resource utilization whipsaw effect.