Bloom Group Study Reveals Importance of Intellectual Capital in Marketing Professional Services

Barbaraanalysts, marketing, Research

Here’s an interesting survey for PR and marketing pro’s at analyst firms and other management/IT professional services providers. Marketing consultancy Bloom Group produced a survey and report on marketing effectiveness among U.S. professional services firms. Turns out strong intellectual capital (IC) is the most important ingredient of effective marketing. The participating services firms rated IC as more important than having a compelling brand, big marketing budget, a sound marketing strategy or capable sales force. Take the 20-minute online survey for a free copy of the full report. (Hat tip to Kennedy Information’s ConsultingWire.)

Bloom Group believes this is common sense. Professional services firms are in the business of providing expertise, so it shouldn’t be surprising that they feel the key to generating marketplace interest in their services is capturing and marketing strong intellectual capital.

Bloom Group report authors Robert S. Buday, Bernie Thiel, and Susan Buddenbaum note that the survey results do not suggest abandoning other forms and components of marketing. The survey simply indicates that marketing the ideas of a professional services firm through educational, rather than promotional, marketing channels is much more important.

Other major study findings include the following:

Content counts: Professional services firms with far superior IC as the content for their marketing programs were much more likely to generate substantial market awareness and business leads than were firms with inferior IC. Some 81 percent of the firms with far superior IC — compared with only 10 percent of firms with inferior or far inferior IC — said their marketing programs were very effective or had more than average effectiveness in creating substantial market awareness and leads.

The smaller the firm, the better the ideas: A much higher percentage of the smallest firms rated their IC to be far superior than did the largest firms. Some 47 percent of the firms with less than $25 million in revenue said their IC was far superior, while only 25 percent of organizations with more than $1 billion in revenue said the same thing. These findings suggest that attaining thought leadership isn’t dependent on resources, and that superior content is the great equalizer between small and large firms in the competition for clients.

Attaining thought leadership requires focusing more resources on developing professionals’ ideas than on marketing them. The firms that said they had the best intellectual capital estimated investing about 57 percent of their IC development and marketing resources in developing IC and about 43 percent in marketing it. The firms with the worst IC did the opposite: they spent only about 41% of their resources on developing ideas and about 59 percent on marketing them. The firms with the best IC were much more likely to use a research consortium and internal research groups as a primary IC development technique.

Superior intellectual capital is increasingly critical. More than three-quarters (77 percent) of the firms polled said having strong intellectual capital to market had grown in importance over the past five years, for three factors more than any others: increasing competition and the need for differentiation; past success with marketing the firm’s IC; and client demands for demonstrating greater expertise before they choose a professional services firm.

The survey featured a wide range of types and sizes of professional services firms: consulting, IT services, law, accounting, training and development, research and others. Some 25 percent had annual revenue of more than $1 billion, 35 percent had less than $25 million, 18 percent had $25 million to $100 million, and 22 percent had between $101 million and $1 billion.

Even if you don’t take the survey to get the full results, check out the three tiers of IC effectiveness listed on page 2 of the survey release.

Reprinted from Tekrati