In a recent post, I commented on Suzanne Lowe's seventh post in her series on "Marketing Experts." I've gone back and read parts 1 - 6 and have found them to be interesting. She focuses on quantitative skills as both vital and personally differentiating for PSF marketers and I agree with her.
"We all give lip service to positioning and differentiating but precious few of us know how to make it happen."
She agrees with me and then asks "why?". She has a few ideas, one of them being:
"There are precious few sources of cogent work on differentiation and positioning for service businesses."
That's true. It's also true that many of us are focused on the tactical rather than the strategic. In addition, many PSF marketers are more creative than quantitative by personality (for an example of why it is better to remain silent and be thought a fool rather than to speak and remove all doubt, see here). Much of this comes from not focusing on the quantitative.
HOWEVER, what I haven't seen in her series is the acknowledgment that many small and mid-size firms don't have the internal systems to easily extract the needed data for analysis.
If you're one of the big boys, you should have these systems and the skill-set to take advantage of the data. There is no disputing that. But for smaller firms whose systems have grown as the firm has grown, access to helpful data is not always easy to get.
I'm one of those "more creative" than "quantitative" folks but I understand the importance of the numbers (I work in a financial services business, for heavens sake). Yet, our systems are not adequate to extract the data we need. So, that means it's a herculean task every time we pull data for analysis. That also means that we don't pull it as often as we need to. Also, we never get exactly what we need.
I know, I know. You're saying: If you don't have the systems, get the systems.
I agree with that too but it is easier to say it than to do it. It's on our to-do list but won't be implemented tomorrow because of the investment and time involved.
So, in the meantime, we continue to rely upon what I call our "band-aid approach" - which is to squeeze all the info we can out of our existing systems, and to rely upon individual experience, initiative, and memory (scary, I realize) to keep us in the game. It's a benefit to Mercer Capital that I've been here for over twenty years so I understand much more about what we do, why we do it, who we do it for, than most marketers in our industry. Yet, let me say it before Suzanne says it, I know it's not remotely sufficient.
So, how about a little help from the peanut gallery ... what type of systems does your firm use to track clients, prospects, engagements, industries, etc.? Any help would be much appreciated.
Then maybe I can become a real marketing expert. In the meantime, I'm going to go back and re-read Suzanne's book so we'll be ready to go when we're ready to go.