The Top Frustrations of In-House Professional Services Marketers

by Debra Andrews | October 15, 2014

“I just spent the better part of a day ordering thank you cards,” sighed Mary (anonymous Marketing Coordinator).  “I’ve sent four reminders to Partner Dan about his blog post that was due two weeks ago. He just ignores my emails,” complained Terry (anonymous Marketing Manager).  Sound familiar?  Take comfort in the fact that you are not alone by a long shot!

Here are the top frustrations of in-house professional services marketers and how to fix them:

1. Glorified Administrative Assistant Syndrome:

Professional services firms typically hire college graduates with one-to-two years of experience as their Marketing Coordinators. It’s quite puzzling that educated, experienced marketers are often given assignments to order stationery and food platters for the upcoming lunch and learn.  It’s not that Marketing Coordinators and Managers aren’t willing to help or feel “above” doing administrative tasks.  What it comes down to is poor leverage.  Partners wouldn’t think about having Senior Managers do the work of entry level staff because it doesn’t make good business sense. They would be overpaying to complete the task at hand.  The same thought process should be applied to marketing.  If the task is purely administrative, it should be handled by an administrative assistant.

  • The Fix:  Build a cost-based business case as to why doing administrative tasks doesn’t make good business sense. Share all of the value-added activities that you could be doing if an administrative assistant took over administrative tasks.  There is a real opportunity cost – you can’t be doing marketing activities if your job has too many administrative tasks.

2. Dizzy from Spinning in Circles Dilemma

Are you getting direction, assignments and competing priorities from multiple sources within the firm?  Do you make a daily “to do” list only to have all the tasks unchecked at the end of the day because you were pulled into fire drill assignments?  This is classic scatter shot marketing and it happens when there’s little-to-no strategic guidance from the top that enables mid-level in-house marketers to make the determination of what’s important now, what should be done later, and which tasks should be skipped entirely because they aren’t aligned with any strategic goals.  The aftermath of scatter shot marketing is not pretty:

  1. Lack of marketing results
  2. Frustrated Partners that wonder what their marketing staff is doing all day
  3. Unhappy in-house marketers who are likely looking for greener pastures other firms
  • The Fix:  Marketers should meticulously track their time by project for a few months.  Take this information to the Managing Partner and/or the Partner-in-Charge of Marketing and ask to discuss marketing priorities.  Share your concerns about the lack of strategic guidance and your wish to drive measurable change.

3.  I’ve Become a Professional Nag

With professional services firms embracing content marketing at a rapid pace, in-house marketers serve as the hunters and gatherers of blog posts and other forms of content.  It’s an important role as stale blogs lose their following quickly and firms will likely never get those engaged visitors back.  There are usually a group of professionals in every firm who take their content marketing responsibilities seriously.  They understand that thought leadership is a true differentiator and will help advance growth efforts.  But, there are typically just as many or more professionals who feel that content creation is a much lower priority and even if they commit to writing blogs, they don’t deliver.  Marketers are then thrown into the unwanted role of the nagging mother /father.  Two, three, even four reminders later, marketers will come up with a big goose egg instead of a relevant piece of content.  It feels terrible to nag and it’s ineffective.  The more marketers nag professionals about their content creation, the more they get ignored.

  • The Fix:  Give firm-wide recognition to those professionals who are consistent content contributors. Share metrics on how various pieces of content are making a difference in driving traffic, increasing social media shares and leading to conversions.  This will hopefully get those professionals already participating to do even more and give others sitting on the bench a feeling of ‘the train is leaving without me.’
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