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By Henry DeVries

According to former  Harvard Business School professor David Maister, typical marketing practices are not only inapplicable for consultants and professional service firms but they may be dangerously wrong.

Often professional service firm principals tell us they are frustrated with the quality of their marketing materials, they are concerned with their firm’s low profile or they feel pressure because their efforts are not generating enough new client leads. Are any of these issues for you?

Many do not know there is a body of knowledge about what does and does not work in marketing professional services. A review of the works of Maister, Robert Bly, Alan Weiss and other experts reveals a recurring theme of what does and does not work in professional service firm marketing. My own 20 years of practical experience in marketing professional service firms supports these findings.

Here are the top 14 tactics that work, but in descending order of effectiveness (we like to save the best for last):

14. Cold calling by a business development person (never a principal)

13. Video brochures that give how-to information

12. Printed brochures that give how-to information

11. Sponsorship of cultural/sports events that appeal to targeted clients

10. Advertising in targeted client industry publications

9. Direct mail

8. Publicity

7. Seminars (ballroom scale)

6. Newsletters

5. Networking

4. Community and civic involvement

3. How-to articles in client-oriented press

2. Speeches at client industry meetings

1. Small-scale seminars

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