State of the Market: A global benchmark study
Seldon Gill has just published a global study of professional services marketers that shows that the average PSM loses sleep at night worrying about how they organise their teams and their firm's marketing programs. Also about two thirds don't think their firms are really putting the hard yards in to properly understand their clients.
The study confirms that the role of the Professional Services Marketer has evolved into a critical business function for professional services firms. Heads of Marketing can find themselves managing teams - some with over 100 people - that cover a variety of specialisations, across a number of jurisdictions. Responsibilities range widely: from advising and managing everyone and everything on marketing initiatives, events, strategic business opportunities and targeted sponsorship, to running client relationship building programs and enhancing the firm's image and reputation.
Undoubtedly, marketing has a seat at the Professional Services table. An old debate now; there is less of a need to justify a marketer's role - just look at some of the smallest firms and, more often than not, there is someone there to take on organisation's marketing commitments.
That is why our research was not focused on identifying marketing's place in a professional services environment. We already know it. Instead this was more of a benchmarking exercise, providing PSMs with a useful set of statistics and trends to help them compare how they, and their firms, compare to the rest of the world.
Participants were asked a series of questions about their attitudes, strategies and experience in the areas of -
- Marketing Strategies
- Budget and salaries
- Education and training
Key findings from the research -
When it comes to team sizes and how many marketers there are to fee-earners, the results were quite scattered. The majority selected one marketer to 50+ fee-earners (31%) and one marketer to 21-30 fee-earners (29%). However, there was still an even split at 15% for both one marketer to 31-40 fee-earners and 41-50 fee-earners.
An increase in headcount and positions within the marketing team are on the agenda for more than a quarter of respondents (at 30%). Interestingly, the majority of roles seen to be required fell under the marketing communications bracket, with respondents expecting work to increase in the following fields:
- Any marcomms
- Public relations
- Event management
- Direct mail
As the workload of marketers increase, so too will the hours they are expected to work with over a quarter of participants (at 29%) saying they expected more overtime from their existing personnel.
Perhaps a sign of changing attitudes in the professional services environment but 56% said they believe their firm has become more acceptable of more overt sales strategies than they have been in the past.
Though more comfortable with sales strategies within their firms, 66% said they do not believe, or find it hard to determine, if their firm is investing enough to truly understand clients and their needs.
While some work still needs to remain part of an in-house responsibility - such as writing bids and proposals (only 3% of firms outsource this task) - more than a quarter of participating managers said they outsource activities like recruitment, training, printing, public relations and design.
Although definitely on the agenda for most professional services firms, internal communications still struggles to find dedicated place on a lot of firms' marketing priorities.
When asked "What keeps you awake at night?" the main issues were:
- Process improvement
- Managing multiple partner demands within tight budgets
- Getting client feedback
- Developing good market research programs - across multiple languages - to determine latent demand and emerging areas of business
- Event planning and organisation
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