There is no doubt the traditional marketing role in which I qualified in 1994 has now gotten far more complicated. Digital marketing, sophisticated marketing technology solutions and social media are the buzz words of the millennials not to mention mobile app development and now AI; but to keep up with the market, do all organisations need to embrace digital and social media?

I probably get 20 emails a day offering digital services on a global scale … with headquarters in India or the States, with offerings of digital strategy and solutions. Where’s the USP to all this? Is this new wave of marketing tech activity merely becoming another commoditized service stream for the big agencies?

Chapman Consulting has had to embrace all this change, and innovate to be able to properly serve our expanding customer base, and to provide our dynamic marketing service offering digital strategy and social media advice to all of our customers.

But this has made me think … is digital marketing the be all and end all?
Let’s get back to basics … we commence our engagement with our customers with our bespoke Power 100 audit report, which recommends marketing and promotional activity specific for that organisation needs to achieve certain goals. We always recommend the most cost-effective solutions to achieve growth as we have no axe to grind or products to ‘sell in’.

We strongly adhere to the fundamental teachings of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, which is a tried and tested methodology for business change – we know as the 4 p’s. Mainly known as Product, Price, Place and Promotion – on the theory that if you are delivering an excellent product, at a price that is making you profit, in the right location where there is a never-ending supply of customers, and that you promote this correctly – you should achieve growth and financial success.

In recent years, the marketing function has become increasingly sophisticated, with the recognition of the ‘service’ industry in the UK, and that therefore the 4 p’s do not quite sit with a service industry business.

Therefore, in our field of professional services, we always refer to the additional 3 P’s less commonly known.

They are Process, People and Physical Evidence. Let’s take each one of these in turn…

Process

with any business seeking growth and increased productivity and profit, analysis and implementation of good process is paramount. Analysis is required into each element of the business delivery model, and improvement can often be made. A small % improvement in productivity in a few areas of your business can lead to a substantial increase in profitability. Should you wish to exit your business at some stage, then implementation of good processes, and visibility of those contributes towards the end valuation. With some larger businesses, this might mean working towards ISO accreditation’s, and we have taken many of our clients towards improved processes, leading them eventually into a full ISO accreditation when ready.

The implementation of good processes therefore is worth considering when growing your business, and contributes towards an improved market valuation. It’s a no-brainer.

People

in a service business, your people are your most valuable asset and probably your most expensive overhead. We work with specialists in employee engagement who apply known methodologies to measure how efficiently a business is using its people, and the cost thereof. They provide an indication of whether the skills and experience of those people, the Human Capital, is being developed into psychological capital and if this is implemented how this can offer an enhanced relationship with the business that delivers discretionary effort, robustness and has incremental effects on performance.

We also offer a wide range of ongoing training such as presentation skills training, sales training, negotiation training and management training through our network of specialist training consultants to support the businesses people development.

Loyal employees in any business create loyal customers, who in turn create happy shareholders. The process sounds easy but it is not, and has defeated some of the biggest organisations of the twentieth century

Sir Richard Branson

Physical Evidence

with a service business, we are often selling the intangible.
Do we expect our customers to appoint us based on a snappy sales presentation, some chat about our experience and demonstration of track record? Hardly!

Physical Evidence becomes a key part of your marketing function – what testimonials can you provide, what case studies or examples of work of a similar type that you have done before? What ROI have you provided to other customers in a similar sector, that will demonstrate your capabilities? Qualifications – what qualifications do team members have, and what commitment have you made to their ongoing training so that your customers know they are getting ‘the best in class’ at their job.

Physical Evidence (or PE) must be tangible, evidenced proof that you do what you say you do, the unequivocal documentation that by ‘buying your business services’ you will achieve x and y and z. PE can be your website, case studies, testimonials, site visits, photographs, health & safety statistics (independently measured of course), customer satisfaction reports and even videos of projects and delighted customers.

We refer to all of the 7 P’s when we work with all our clients …, using the tried and trusted methodology detailed above, and we examine each one of these asking soul-searching questions of the business owners and directors.

Are they really providing the best product there is? How do we measure that?

Customer feedback can provide invaluable information as to on job performance in terms of customer experience, and can give you valuable insight to where you have a training need or need to take disciplinary action. Encouraging innovation within the business so that ideas and continuous improvement is given air time is a fantastic way to encourage your employees to help you develop your business.

There is now talk of a further P – the 8th P – but this is sector dependent – whether charitable/social or commerce/corporate.

But getting back to basics with your business strategy in terms of what you offer, where you can make improvements that will add to your bottom line, and how that is in effect implemented by your marketing management team.

And not one word yet about “digital” – in my opinion, digital comms is merely one element of the promotional campaign, so don’t get phased by it. Treat it as part of the ‘marketing mix’ which you have at your disposal within your BD strategy and certainly not the only marketing method within your marketing toolkit for professional services.