How a consulting firm realized their marketing skills gap was impacting sales

Our client, a national consulting firm, came to us originally because they needed a website developed for a client on an expedited timeline. Over time, as the firm’s needs grew, we became their strategic marketing partners. 

The client has multiple affiliates, each with its own brand. The differentiation between brands wasn’t clear within the company, so it was impossible to convey that differentiation to prospective clients. Each brand created its own messaging and marketing in a silo, which sometimes led to two brands saying they did the same things, or one brand contradicting what the other brand was saying.

Because the client’s service offerings were unique, the client felt they didn’t have any competitors. What they weren’t taking into consideration, though, was their perceived competitors: the consulting firms that people were hiring instead of our client – even though those firms didn’t provide the same level or breadth of services. Our client wasn’t offering prospective clients any information about how it was different from those perceived competitors, causing it to lose significant business opportunities. 

The firm works with different types of clients in a range of business cycle stages. While their “one size fits all” approach to marketing could be quickly executed, it wasn’t yielding good lead generation results. The firm knew that different business stages had different needs and required different solutions, but that wasn’t being communicated through the firm’s marketing or sales materials. In the minds of prospective clients, the firm was asking for a long-term investment without making the effort to understand buyers’ needs. 

Like most professional firms, most of our client’s time was spent servicing its own clients, leaving little to no time to strategize solutions to these problems or take even small, incremental steps toward improvement. Big-picture marketing initiatives had been tabled. Day-to-day sales needs (marketing brochures, positioning statements, lead gen emails) were delayed or ignored, and everything was behind schedule. This meant marketing and sales enablement were always on one of two states: dormant or on fire.

The consulting firm needed immediate triage, followed by a strong marketing foundation on which to build future efforts. They also needed to break the log jam of people and approvals that was keeping their marketing from moving forward.

We did an audit of immediate needs and quickly cleared out the current backlog, so the sales team could continue with their work. Within several weeks we had delivered key sales and marketing materials that had been lingering for as long as 18 months.

Next, we focused on developing a strategy that would remove decision paralysis in future marketing efforts. We established clear positioning for each brand so prospective clients would understand what the company offered, without the brands cannibalizing each other. We also developed a narrative of how the brands work together so that prospective clients can understand what needs each company meets. Consulting firms often struggle with differentiation; it can be hard for a prospective client to understand how one firm is different from another, and they wind up making a decision based solely on price. We studied the firm’s “real” competitors as well as their “perceived” competitors (who their prospective clients view as competitors) to create a differentiation strategy that moves the conversation with prospective clients beyond hourly rates.

The new marketing strategy takes into account the differences in lead experience, career stage, business cycle, and need of different customers. Variations of marketing and sales materials were created so that sales reps always have exactly what they need for each type of lead. We also built tracking into the marketing tactics, so that the firm would know what was yielding the best results and what was not worth continuing to pursue.

The firm ultimately decided to outsource all of its marketing and sales enablement to our firm, based on our ability to deliver superior results in a shortened time frame and at a lower annual cost than maintaining an in-house marketing team.

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