If you're in business of marketing a professional services firm you’ll find these mistakes to be universal.
See the Herd, Be the Herd: Fitting in is so natural among the human herd that we can’t tell when it’s working against us. Making choices that feel good and natural could mean you’re creating vanilla programs that look, taste, and feel like your competition. Making choices that feel good and unnatural will elevate your programs above the rest.
Have Marketing Report to Sales Leadership: The argument has been had and beaten into submission. Marketing is not sales. The immediacy in the world of sales makes it difficult for sales leadership to comprehend the more holistic benefits of good marketing initiatives. The journey to securing a client relationship through marketing and sales needs to hold hands, but each employ distinctly different tactics to arrive there.
What Happens in Marketing Stays in Marketing: By isolating your marketing people and making sure everyone else in the firm knows that only marketing people deal with marketing stuff you can go a long way toward developing a “not my job” culture. Marketing is not a department! It’s a vision coming to life in the people of your firm that will radiate warmly on all of your external efforts.
Fads are Fun: Whenever a new, new idea comes along jump right on board. Nothing can interrupt strategy faster than fickle leaders following the crowd (remember the herd?). Strategy needs to be nudged as it matures and takes shape, not slapped around and beaten with your new, new stick.
Market from Afar: New clients are making a personal choice when they select counsel. If your marketers have no personal familiarity with the people in your marketplace you’re assured of blissful ignorance. I strongly believe marketers need to know the street scene and participate actively in the community they are marketing too.
Make Competition Your Highest Priority: By focusing on what your competition is doing day to day you’ll certainly accomplish nothing useful or original. Defensive firms do not grow. They just survive.
Keep Secrets: Hanging on to every bit of information you can until it’s absolutely necessary to share it will guarantee that the information you share will come too late. Knowledge is power; but there is no power in keeping knowledge to ourselves. Be unafraid to share as much as you legally and morally can. Successfully marketed firms gather and share knowledge like water flowing from a fountain.
Seek Perfection: If nothing can be good enough then nothing will get done. Use exhaustive approval procedures; allow no action without committee approval; assume that your input is not valued unless you can find mistakes in reality or theory.
Speak At Your Audience: The certainty that you already know what others think, need, or want is extremely useful in marketing failure. Your marketing will be a one-way street of stuff flowing out of you and nothing coming back.
Relax, You're Ahead: It is hard to get to the front of the herd. Take a break. Now that you are in the lead everyone else is going to fight over who will be #2 and leave you unchallenged. Now that we are King-of-the-Hill the rest is gravy.
So there it is -- ten ways to fail. There are certainly plenty more but these are the ones that I have found to be the most common.