Technology is dramatically shifting marketing, and most professional service firms are being left behind just as the broader market—both B2B and B2C—are applying decades-old professional services marketing tactics to their own.

If your understanding of marketing technology is limited to Twitter or other social media, email and your website, it is time for you and your practice leaders to get engaged (This is not a social-media-bandwagon diatribe.).

The marketing landscape has evolved quickly in the past several years. Chiefmartec.com has estimated more than $21.8 billion of venture capital and private equity has been recently invested marketing technology companies.  The latest count has more than 1,000 marketing technology firms providing unique value propositions around client experience, market understanding, service delivery and marketing operations. According to Gartner, professional services firms spend 4.2% of revenues on technology. Your marketing team may be using upwards of 10-15 of these technologies already–yet have just scratched the surface of the strategic potential. Here is a small sampling of the key areas (from Scott Brinker of chiefmartec.com):

  • Internet services such as Facebook, Google, and Twitter that underlie today’s marketing environment
  • Infrastructure such as databases, big data management, cloud computing, and software development tools
  • Marketing Backbone Platforms such as CRM, marketing automation, WCM, and e-commerce engines
  • Marketing Middleware such as DMPs, CDPs, tag management, cloud connectors, user management, and API services
  • Marketing Experiences, or the “front-office” of modern marketing, are more specialized technologies that directly affect prospects and customers across their lifecycle, such as advertising, email, social media, SEO, content marketing, A/B testing and marketing apps
  • Marketing Operations include the tools and data for managing the “back-office” of marketing, such as analytics, MRM, DAM, and agile marketing management.

If you have a strategic marketing function, you are probably using many of these marketing technologies and garnering (and measuring) the business impact. You are seeing strategic results like:

  • Is your marketing technology helping or hurting your growth?More marketing-qualified leads: The number of leads generated by Marketing that meet a sales-agreed-to set of qualification criteria
  • Higher brand relevance:  A measure of your firm’s/brand’s credibility, visibility and consideration, vis-a-vis the competition in the markets in which you compete
  • Higher prospect engagement: A measure of a prospect’s overall interactivity with your firm through marketing channels including website visits, time spent on website, pages viewed, site logins, email list growth, blog comments, event attendance, etc.
  • Faster velocity:  The amount of time it takes a prospect to move through the sales funnel from initial engagement until close
  • Higher pipeline contribution: The dollars of potential revenue contributed by marketing-qualified leads
  • Increasing size of prospect database size:  The total number of prospects in the firm’s marketing database.

RELATED:  Aligning Marketing Goals with Your Partners’ Goals

If you are not seeing these results, it is time to shift gears and start thinking more strategically about the evolution of marketing technology and your ability to grow the business.

The first step is to sit down with your marketing leader and understand your current state. The second step, as a leader, is to make sure that you are reinforcing a culture and capability to exploit these new technologies. Ask yourself if:

  • You have set the expectation to deliver strategic marketing capability
  • Your firm has a data-driven mindset
  • Your practice leaders are informed and engaged on key technologies
  • You are creating a culture that is risk-tolerant (i.e. has a learning ethos not a failure-avoidance ethos)
  • Your sales and marketing functions have synergistic and strong working relationships
  • Your culture is collaborative, not dictatorial
  • You have a strong, confident marketer who has a growth and problem-solving orientation
  • Your firm has a differentiated point of view, strong thought-leadership agenda and content-production capability
  • You see technology as an enabler not a pain in the ass.

RELATED: How to Build the Best Marketing Organization for Professional Services

Take away

Marketing technology is moving quickly. Your client’s experience in the consumer world sets the expectation for how they want to be able to engage your firm. Dragging your feet or being ignorant of technology’s evolution will put your relationships and your firm at risk. Mobile devices, the Internet of things, cloud and apps are dramatically changing how clients will be interacting with your firm, your people AND your competition.

Be prudent.

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