Stupid Sh*t Professional Services Marketing Should Not Do

by | Marketing ROI, Most popular

Professional services marketing teams get asked to do A LOT of things that partners want done but have little strategic impact in accelerating the firm’s growth or building its legacy. If you’re a practice leader or partner, you’ve probably received your sales “number” for the year. Your primary goal is hitting it. If you want your marketing team to improve your chances of doing so, stop asking them to do stupid sh*t that has little or no ROI and wastes time and resources so they can get to more demanding—and more valuable—work that will help you get there.

Here are 2 invaluable lists every professional services firm should post in their offices and cubicles to accelerate growth and build a legacy.

Things Professional Services Marketing Should NOT Do 

Don’t ask Marketing to:

  1. Make your presentation “pretty.”
  2. Respond to an RFP that you neither shaped nor knew was coming.
  3. Name anything that is not proprietary, offers a competitive advantage, AND plays a consequential part of your growth strategy.
  4. Manage another event with no demonstrated ROI.
  5. Clean up CRM data.
  6. Redesign your logo just  “because it’s time.”
  7. Build a “cooler” website.
  8. Rebrand your firm or practice to “build” awareness.
  9. Manage your office’s annual “picnic” or another HR event.
  10. Do another brand study.
  11. Build a marketing campaign to convince the market of your firm’s prowess without using a single proof point.
  12. Sponsor a favorite charity event.
  13. Get your clients tickets to anything.
  14. Brainstorm “strategically” about some one-off marketing program.
  15. Send an email blast about your latest client win (or anything else).
  16. Brand a new product that has only one client project and no completed due diligence.
  17. Develop an ad to be run once—anywhere.
  18. Help you or anyone on your team manage your personal brand.
  19. Produce a brochure.
  20. Post to your personal social media accounts.
  21. Send out holiday cards.
  22. Grow your firm or practice without a coherent, realistic business strategy as a foundation.


READ: What is Marketing’s Role?: 2 Schools of Professional Services Marketing Thought

Things Professional Services Marketing Should Do

Instead, ask Marketing to:

  1. Map EVERY marketing program’s cost and its impact on achieving your number.
  2. Intelligently segment your markets to improve your targeting.
  3. Identify your practice’s ideal client.
  4. Develop a system of client listening.
  5. Measure Marketing’s actual dollar contribution to your pipeline.
  6. Develop an algorithm of prospect buying propensity.
  7. Build a business case for why you should kill one of your legacy services or products.
  8. Produce a website that drives more revenue than it costs to build and maintain.
  9. Drive your account-based marketing program.
  10. Develop a zero-based or activity-based budget.
  11. Strategically allocate your marketing budget.
  12. Define your REAL competitive set.
  13. Agree WITH sales on a shared performance metric that has real bonus dollars behind it.
  14. Take some new risks, fail, and learn something new.
  15. Dissect your buyers’ journeys.
  16. Remove one friction point from the buying cycle.
  17. Tell more practice leaders, “No.”
  18. Do a client profitability assessment.
  19. Develop a cross-LOB solution to a pressing client problem.
  20. Increase client loyalty.
  21. Build a state-of-the-art marketing stack to achieve your growth goals.
  22. Hone your practice’s POV to differentiate your firm from all the “content marketing” noise.
  23. Articulate a value proposition with words that normal human beings actually use.
  24. Develop the next generation of strategic growth leaders.
  25. Demonstrate the strategic difference between corporate communications and marketing.
  26. Knockdown functional silos with the goal of improving client experience.
  27. Challenge your thinking in a public forum.
  28. Compare the behaviors that will get you hired, fired, or promoted against the values on your website or brand value “posters”.
  29. Go a month without uttering the word “brand.”
  30. Justify the firm’s investment in marketing.



HELPFUL TOOL: Maybe marketing (little m) is not your issue. Perhaps your firm is not quite ready to grow to its potential.
Check out our professional services Growth Readiness Self-Assessment



I know that may feel like a slap to the head. My apologies for style. I really do want to help you, your practice, and your firm to be more successful.

To start, just try dropping a few of the old requests and replace them with a few of the new ones. I’ll bet that you’ll hit your number a lot sooner and easier this year than ever before. If you find yourself saying that Marketing isn’t capable of doing these things, then it might be time to raise your expectations, do a marketing capability gap assessment, and upgrade your Marketing team.

If you don’t ask, you’ll never know.

Be prudent.



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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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