How To Market And Sell Professional Services


Tuesday, 8.31pm

Sheffield, U.K.

Professional services industries like finance, consulting, and legal services are, by definition, meta-industries. That is, they serve to help large companies raise money, buy and sell each other, reorganize, implement new systems, conduct complex transactions, and so forth. – Andrew Yang

I’ve been thinking about the service sector and how to market it for the last few days.

Which is why the book How to advertise by Kenneth Roman and Jane Maas caught my eye.

Published in 1976, it’s a short book and the two authors worked at Ogilvy and Mather.

The book is a quick read and effectively a bunch of rules – but there are a few interesting things that still resonate with us now.

First – what does it take to be a good advertiser?

The answer, according to the authors is hard work, knowing the rules and creative brilliance.

When you start thinking of marketing your product the first thing you need is to understand how you are going to position your product

Where is it going to sit in the mind of the consumer?

That positioning decision sets your strategy – one part of which is the creative bit – the actual advertising.

And the book lists five questions it’s worth asking about your creative strategy.

  1. The Objective: What should the advertising do?
  2. The Audience: Who is your target consumer?
  3. Key Consumer Benefit: Why should they buy from you?
  4. Support: A reason to believe in that benefit
  5. Tone and Manner: What is the product’s “personality”?

Getting the strategy right needs work – you need to do your research, understand the facts, really get a good picture of what is going on so that the strategy you come up with is grounded in the data.

This paper, for example, sets out how I go about doing this.

And then they say something in the book that really fits how I see things working.

Getting the strategy done is half the work. The other half is the advertising itself – the execution.

Now, if you look back at the points above you’ll have a very quick overview of what you need to do delivering any kind of professional service.

Whether you’re an accountant, lawyer or management consultant the first part of your work is all about coming up with the right strategy.

The second part is executing – delivering on that strategy.

But why should someone trust you enough to hire you?

And that’s summed up in one tiny paragraph on page 149 – something that I think could easily be expanded into a whole paper or book all by itself – a message that’s laid out in the image that starts this post.

“Look for a business philosophy, stable management, a professional staff, technical expertise, and a past, present and future.”

Read that again and tell me it isn’t one of the most elegant and densely packed sentences you’ve seen.

And then tell me if you can honestly say that your agency ticks every one of those criteria?

And if it doesn’t – isn’t it obvious what you need to do?


Karthik Suresh

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