Mike Schultz and John Doerr with Professional Services Marketing: How the Best Firms Build Premier Brands, Thriving Lead Generation Engines, and Cultures of Business Development Success (Wiley and Sons: 2009) venture into an increasingly crowded area—the marketing and selling of professional services.
For full disclosure. I am mentioned in the book along with dozens of others as a contributing author to RainToday.com, the online marketing magazine edited by Mike Schultz. I do contribute to the site. Contributing to RainToday and working with Mike has not influenced this review at all. However, since there is a slight relationship here, you be the judge (the best way to be the judge is buy the book and determine whether my review is accurate or not).
A growing trend in the sales and marketing training/consulting industry–and consequently for authors of books–is targeting professional service providers. The sector has been viewed as potentially profitable and underserved. It’s a market where underserved is no longer the case. Amazon has over 2,350 sales and marketing books listed that target the professional service provider and most of these have been published in the last five or six years.
So in such a crowded marketplace that has exploded in such a short period of time is it really reasonable to expect that Schultz and Doerr have contributed much of anything new? It might not be reasonable to expect, but they did create a work that does contribute substantially to the subject.
They lay out for themselves a massive task. According to the front flap, the book covers these five areas:
1. Creating a customized marketing and growth strategy based on what will really work for your firm
2. Establishing a brand and reputation that leads to market leadership, frustrated competitors, and happy clients (and more of them)
3. Implementing a marketing communications program that will keep your firm front and center in decision-makers’ minds
4. Developing a lead generation strategy that brings in more new clients than you will know what to do with
5. Winning new clients by developing rainmakers and a culture of business-development hustle, passion, intensity, and success
That’s a massive undertaking. In essence, Schultz and Doerr intend to present a comprehensive strategy for marketing and growing your professional services firm including turning each of your practitioners into strong business producers.
Impressive if done. Let’s see if they did it.
Schultz and Doerr come from a background entrenched in the real world of marketing professional service firms. They own one themselves, the Wellesley Hills Group, a consulting company working with professional service firms. As consults to professional service firms, they see the good and the bad, what works and what doesn’t. Professional Services Marketing isn’t a marketing text; it’s a marketing implementation guide. It isn’t filled with theory but with practical guidance and real world experience. It doesn’t come the ivory tower but from the trenches because the authors live in the trenches. Theory is great fun to discuss but when it comes to building your firm, you want real, workable, applicable, predictable strategies and techniques, not pie-in-the-sky maybe’s.
One of the most frustrating aspects of marketing and sales tips, guidance, and advice for professionals who have had little exposure to and are fearful of marketing and sales is that the guidance and advice is given in a plastic, sterile manner—there’s little or no context to put real flesh and bones to the concepts. Consequently they float in the ether, there to be seen and admired, not to be used.
Schultz and Doerr understand that concept without context renders it virtually useless. They turn what for many would be pretty trinkets into useable tools—that itself more than justifies the price of the book.
More importantly, they tie all the aspects of creating and implementing a marketing program into a consistent whole. Rather than having a number of disparate pieces of “marketing,” Professional Services Marketing shows the user (not reader, this isn’t a book to be “read,” it’s a book to be implemented) how to coordinate and synchronize the various parts of a marketing, branding, and sales program into a unified whole.
Glowing praise? Yes.
A book without any weaknesses? No.
From a marketing and branding standpoint, Professional Services Marketing is in a class by itself. It does, however, fall short in one area—turning an accountant, attorney or engineer into a salesperson.
The authors give good advice. They give real world guidance. They can help move a professional who is mystified by the concept of business generation into one who can snag a client here and there. Unfortunately, no book is going to create Rainmakers out of non-sellers. It would have been nice to see an extensive list of sales skill resources, in particular coaching resources, and the admonition to seek out and hire a quality coach.
But no book is perfect.
Whether an individual practitioner, practitioner within a small or large firm, or partner or manager of a firm, get a copy and implement it. If you’re a partner or manager of a firm, purchase a copy for every member of your firm—managers, practitioners, staff. Get everyone on the same page—and these are the pages to get them on.
Professional Services Marketing is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books a Million, and all fine booksellers.