03 May 2019

Google ‘marketing trends for 2019’ and you’ll be inundated with results. But while social media stories, micro-influencer marketing and AI are all getting their fair share of column inches, they might not be right for a professional services company.

Which begs the question: what is right?

Professional services 101


There’s a certain amount of confusion about what constitutes professional services. As a result, some candidates think they have experience of the sector when they might not. For example, recruitment isn’t classed as professional services, but accountancy, management consultancy and the legal sector are.


Some areas of professional services are more advanced in their marketing activities than others. Management consultants tend to be early adopters of digital marketing, utilising things like marketing automation, whereas legal is renowned for lagging behind.


But all may not be as it seems.


You may assume the long-established firms are wedded to the more traditional methods of marketing, but you’d be wrong. For instance, EY’s recent use of Facebook has got people talking.


Using the platform to promote thought leadership and target a young professional demographic, the EY Career Facebook page engages with students and graduates early on and promotes the company’s values. With more than 1.2 million followers, it must be doing something right.

3 trends to watch


Professional services marketing (like all marketing) is dominated by digital, and the current, hottest trends reflect this.

? Mobilisation: With more people consuming and sharing content on the go, mobilisation is increasingly essential for engagement.

? Ultra-personalisation: Adding value to the client relationship requires an ultra-personalised content experience. Highly relevant content delivered on a perceived one-to-one basis helps businesses connect and retain clients.

? Automation: B2B has been slow to use marketing automation to free up time for more strategic pursuits. But that’s changing. Advanced digital tools are easy to use and are having a huge impact on businesses’ ROI.
What skills is the professional services sector looking for?


Although businesses often want candidates with a background in their area, a number of skills are highly transferable across professional services as a whole.


For example, more companies want candidates with paid digital experience. As Caroline Simmonds, senior consultant at Stopgap explains: “Professional services is moving beyond owned or earned channels so wants to introduce paid digital into the marketing mix.”


Marketing automation is another sought-after skill. “With management consultancies leading the way in embracing the latest in digitally-enabled marketing, they are looking for candidates who are all-round marketers with marketing automation experience,” says Caroline.


Thought-leadership integrated campaign experience is also becoming increasingly popular. “Many specialist SME management consultancies want to become thought-leaders and are giving the Big 4 a run for their money,” continues Caroline.


Jackie Pinfold, lead consultant at Stopgap is seeing more demand for account-based marketing and key account management within the sector, too.


“These are businesses that are selling high-value, people-focused services with long lead times,” she explains. “Engagement is key and more advanced firms are using all of the tools at their disposal.”


Are you looking to move or progress into a professional services marketing role? If so, there are plenty of benefits to enjoy.


As well as offering big B2B budgets and attractive salaries, larger professional services companies tend to have flexible working policies. And compared to other sectors, there is generally more structure when it comes to career progression. In short, this is a sector in which loyalty and longevity are valued.


Speak to the team at Stopgap today to find out where you might fit in.

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