Last week, I spent time with some smart marketers from the worlds’ best management consulting firms, along with great people from Forbes and HBR. The event was hosted by the Association of Management Consulting Firms (AMCF). John Furth, the President and CEO of AMCF, and Bob Buday, CEO of The Bloom Group, co-presented findings from their most recent Voice of the Customer survey (Research Now was also involved in the study). The study’s purpose was to understand how U.S. buyers of consulting services use social media to find and evaluate consulting firms. The study had some great data points, but I will not steal John and Bob’s thunder.

My main take-away from the full-day session was this: breaking through to an economic buyer in a complex sale is not easy and there is NO shortcut—social media-driven or other.

Other takeaways include:

  • The inward-out sales funnel has been replaced by the outward-in buying process and firms need to understand this.
  • Clients still choose results, expertise and relationship.
  • HBR rocks and is the most solid thought leadership brand in business.
  • Forbes was a great magazine and has become a phenomenal, powerful business knowledge platform.
  • Firms understand WHY clients buy, but not HOW they buy.
  • Everything marketing does should have a social component.
  • Marketing and business development still aren’t on the same page.
  • Most firms’ sales and marketing teams don’t share a universal lead definition, but need to make this a priority for marketing to be successful.
  • Marketing’s number one role is LEAD NURTURING.
  • Firms are missing the fulcrum of all marketing fulcrums by not having a content management system, CRM, and marketing automation. What are firms waiting for?
  • Professional services marketers are being overtaken in sophistication by B2C “content” marketers.
  • Allowing conversations on your blog is a matter of target market, personal taste and manpower.
  • Women make better Secretaries of State.
  • Maybe Sarah Green of the HBR will be SOS someday.
  • It is impossible to measure marketing effectiveness (and reward it) unless you can link marketing activities to revenue
  • Bob Buday is a very sharp guy.
  • Think in terms of revenue impact not costs.
  • If you’re “doing” social media do it authentically. Don’t let marketing do all the work.
  • Jeff Durocher of RHR International is leading one impressive marketing team.
  • Don’t confuse “content” and tools with insights & thought leadership.
  • John Furth and his team at AMCF can pack a room full of talented people and put on a helluva show.

Be prudent.

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