The share of revenue professional services firms dedicated to marketing almost doubled from 8% in 2019 to 15% in 2020, according to a recent Hinge Research Institute report [download page]. This is just one of the marketplace changes listed in the study, which also outlines what firms can expect in the year ahead.
In its survey of almost 1,300 professional services firms, Hinge found that the share of new business leads being generated from digital sources grew to nearly 4 in 10 (39.6%) in 2020, up from about one-third (33.7%) the previous year. Successful professional services firms in particular tend to be yielding more leads from their digital sources: among firms identified as “high growth” by the report, the proportion of leads generated from digital sources jumps to 46.1%, while among those identified as “high profit” (25% or more), digital sources’ share of lead generation is similarly high, at 45%.
By industry, Government Contracting firms generate the largest portion of leads from digital sources (44.9%), followed by Technology & Software (42.8%) and Architecture, Engineering & Construction (41%).
Research on Target Audiences
Another notable change in 2020 highlighted by the report is the increase in firms conducting research into their target audiences. This figure rose from 31.4% in 2019 to 49.2% in 2020, with Architecture, Engineering & Construction firms most likely to conduct formal, structured research on their target audience (59.9%).
A sizable share of Technology & Software firms (54.6%), Legal (48.5%) and Government Contracting firms (48.2%) are also conducting such research.
A Changing Marketplace
Many firms are responding to changes resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, and a number of business processes have more difficult since the crisis – including business development/sales (57.8%), communication with clients/prospects (47.3%) managing people (45.8%) and delivery of product/service (43.4%).
As a result, firms responding to the survey are investing in new marketing techniques since the onset of COVID-19. The CMO Survey found that businesses were relying more on social media since the pandemic. This more recent report confirms this trend, with respondents investing more in networking on social media (41.5%) and promoting thought leadership on social media (25.8%). The report mentions that high growth firms are more likely than no-growth firms to be upping their investments in social media.
Based on impact, top-rated marketing techniques, according to high growth firms, include providing assessments and/or consultations (rated 7.4 out of 10), podcasts, radio or other formats (7.2), digital ads (7.2) and video blogging (7.2).
The report also lists some high-impact, low-investment marketing techniques that time-crunched marketers can consider. These range from publishing guest blogs on external publications to nurturing prospects through phone calls and conducting and publishing original research.
Read the full report here.
About the Data: Results are based on a survey of 1,293 firms across Consulting, Legal, Architecture/Engineering/Construction, Account & Financial Services and Technology & Software.