2019 – Your Most Intelligent Marketing Year Yet

By Andrew Jackson, Director, Concep

By now your 2019 plans will be underway. You’ll have your content strategy, your events calendar and your comms plans all in place for the months that lie ahead. In some cases, professional services marketers will be replicating what worked best last year and seeing where they need to make cut-backs so as to come in on budget.  Others will do what they have always done because – well why wouldn’t you if it has always worked out in the past?

The reality though is not so straightforward. All of a sudden we find ourselves in a 12-month countdown to a brand-new decade: the 2020’s.  To plan what we do next, we have to look into the future and see where our firm wants to be at the end of next decade – or even in 2024, a mere 5 years away. How will you align your marketing technology, people, skills and processes so as to position your firm for the future?

There are future predictions which are a given. Some firms will continue to expand into new geographies following new opportunities created by globalisation and the internationalisation of regulation and law. There will be more pressure on the competitive environment and added complexity for brand builders and marketers with new market entrants. Many firms will merge, leaving some marketing teams redundant or getting to grips with new people, tools and ways of working.

A few forward-thinking firms will be looking ahead and preparing not just to embrace change but to innovate to the point that they will disrupt the sector. They are starting to talk within their organisation and their ecosystem about how they can be agents of change and facilitate the transformation of their firms so as to achieve the competitive edge not this year, or next but in 5, and 10 years’ time.

Right now, most of the automation taking place within professional services is centered around the automation of routine tasks that can save time and reduce costs. Take for example Concep’s automated blog distribution tool that enables marketers to distribute new content quickly and effortlessly to the right audience. Increasingly, however, we will see AI and machine learning take automation to an entirely new level as firms choose to innovate and differentiate their service offerings.

The futurists at the Canadian research firm Quantumrun predict that by 2029, the way we experience the law will be very different from now. They talk of a not-so-far-away world of robots replacing judges and sentencing people who break the law with mind-reading devices used to determine guilt. Imagine a law firm where lawyers are replaced by AI and firms compete as digital marketing firms! It sounds like science fiction yet the firm PwC predicts in their  Impact of Automation on Jobs Report, that “in the short term, the largest impact of AI on jobs could be on sectors like financial services where algorithms can lead to faster and more efficient analysis and assessments”.

So what can marketers in sectors like legal, accounting or financial services do now to set themselves and their firms up for the future? 

  1. Don’t focus on what the technology does but on how you use it.

Rather than thinking about CRM and how you integrate with other systems, consider what you need from it and how you will use it. Think about designing a marketing technology stack that acts as a single engagement platform.  What do want to achieve? What will give you competitive advantage and how will your technology support that? What can be organised in a routine workflow to save you time?  What insights do you and other key stakeholders need to get from the platform? Does all your platform’s functionality “work together” ie: event invitation management, email, surveys or blog automation or do you need to use multiple applications that work in isolation from each other.

  1. Go beyond the data

Whilst data quality and management are important and personal data certainly needs attention in today’s data protection-sensitive, post-GDPR word, marketers must start to think beyond the data.  Think about what “Big, Hairy Question” the data is going to answer?  Who will use the data and how?  What will we learn from it? How will our clients benefit from what we have learned? How does the data assist the firm in reaching its strategic goals? All too often firms don’t understand the data they are sitting on – it just sits in silos and quickly becomes outdated and loses its value.

  1. Become part of an interconnected ecosystem

Work with colleagues outside of marketing, connect with clients and with your marketing technology vendors.  Connecting with the right people and organisations will help become part of a purposeful network to learn from, share with, co-create and innovate. The value of having a network of humans to help you augment the benefits of technology is priceless.

  1. When it comes to culture, lead by example

Make a commitment to yourself, your team and your firm that you will contribute to creating the kind of culture that will be future-focused. Is your decision-making insights driven? Are you working in a marketing silo or do you work collaboratively with other parts of the organisations? If your business is conservative and risk adverse what can you do to innovate and explore?  Are you a ‘reactive’ or are you ‘proactively strategic’? Are you continuously learning? Many of your answers to these questions will depend on your firm’s marketing maturity.  How would you define where you are and what will you need to do to be the agent of change?

Professional Service Lead at technology firm SAP, Steven Hollier began a recent article in Digitalistmag.com with: “Those of us in the professional services industry have a choice: Disrupt or be disrupted. New technologies are already changing the way operations are run and have the huge potential to drastically change the way the industry functions in the future. Companies must be prepared to embrace this or be left behind.”

It's the forward-thinking, ‘intelligent’ marketing leaders who now have the opportunity to shape and influence where their firms - and their careers - are headed.

If you are looking for a client engagement platform to change the way your business works or shape the future of your professional services firm, talk to Concep.