Measuring Professional Services Marketing Effectiveness

by | Marketing Strategy

measuring marketing effectiveness professional services

If I were to ask chief marketing officers (CMO) at professional services firms around the world to measure their teams’ current marketing effectiveness on a scale of 1-5, I suspect that I might get a lot of 4s. Humility would keep many from saying 5 and ego would keep scores from falling to an average of 3 (Just like the children of Lake Wobegon).


By contrast, if I were to ask business developers to rate their marketing teams, I suspect I would get 2s from the honest ones and a 3 to 3.5 from more politically correct players. Partners/practice leaders might give their CMOs 4s, if the CMOs’ teams were good order-takers. Leaders might score them at 2-3, if they were less responsive or a little recalcitrant. Managing partners might utter something about brand and give them 3s.


Now, if I flipped the question around and asked CMOs to rate the other three areas, what do you think I would get? Perhaps CMOs would say that particular practices are 5s, 1s or 2s.  Respect would be a key driver. This business developer is a 4 because he doesn’t treat us like his personal proposal team, but that one never talks to us so I don’t know that I could rate him. The managing partner would be rated based on whether marketing had a seat at the proverbial “table.”


What’s my point?  I have two.


First, human nature dictates a wide range of “marketing effectiveness” scores.

Different experiences, different expectations, different personalities produce different results. After all, what is each score actually measuring? Overall performance? Lead generation results, sales support, design prettiness, response speed, agreeability? The score is filled with subjectivity and bias because the definition of marketing effectiveness is rather nebulous in most firms. The question does not tell us what, where, why or when to improve said effectiveness.


Second, I’ve learned that “Rate your marketing team’s current effectiveness” is the wrong inquiry.

In professional services, most firms mistakenly concentrate on the effectiveness of the marketing “function” (i.e. marketing with a little “m”). Instead, leadership should be focused on Marketing with a capital “M.” That is the firm’s OVERALL readiness and ability to “get and keep a client,” to paraphrase Peter Drucker.

READ: Building the Optimal Marketing Organization

Marketing effectiveness in professional services, much like health and intelligence, is a “latent variable,” meaning that it cannot be directly observed, but it can be inferred from other variables that can be seen. These important variables often don’t fall under the auspices of the marketing function (little “m”) but are absolutely critical in enabling the marketing function to produce strategic impact (i.e. drive revenue, gain market share, develop new markets, reduce client churn).


A New Approach to Measuring Professional Services Marketing Effectiveness

That’s why I’ve introduced a new tool that helps firms assess their Marketing effectiveness (capital “M”) in order to identify and eliminate the barriers blocking your firm’s growth—your firm’s ability to get and keep a client. 


I call it the Growth Readiness Assessment.growth and marketing assessment professional services


Built from Prudent Pedal’s comprehensive growth assessment methodology that I use to help leadership teams accelerate growth, this tool allows you to self-score your firm’s effectiveness in 11 professional services growth-enabling areas often outside and upstream of the formal marketing function. As you self-score, the assessment weights and prioritizes each area for your attention. 


The scores and weights are critical, but the more important purpose of the growth assessment is to address my first point above—disparity.  I recommend that firms have key players rate your “marketing effectiveness” individually and separately. Then, come together to compare scores across individual attributes and categories and ask questions like:


  • Where do we agree that we are doing well? Why?
  • Where are the widest gaps/disparities in our scores? 
  • Why are there gaps in perceptions?
  • How do these gaps impact our scores further downstream?
  • What do the gaps mean to our overall performance?
  • How can we start looking at a “Marketing Effectiveness” differently?

The answers to these questions drive the firm’s effectiveness.


READ: The Smartest Way to Allocate Your Marketing Investments



With 2020 planning and budgeting kicking into high gear, I encourage you to download the Growth Readiness Assessment and share it with your leadership team, so you can assess your firm as soon as possible.  You’ll want to ensure that you’re attacking AND investing in the areas that have the greatest impact on growth.

Get started now strengthening the muscles that will help you get and keep a client. 


Be prudent.


measuring marketing effectiveness in professional services

About the Author

Jeff McKay
Founder & CEO
Prudent Pedal

As a strategist and fractional CMO, Jeff helps firms set smart growth strategies in motion. He was the SVP of Marketing at Genworth Financial, the Global Marketing Leader at Hewitt Associates, and held senior roles at Towers Perrin and Andersen. Learn more.

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