Beware of the Professional Services Marketing “Check Box” Mentality

by Debra Andrews | April 30, 2014

It’ a sure-fire way to achieve a low ROI

Accountants, lawyers, engineers, and other service providers are feeling a little overwhelmed these days! Servicing clients, reviewing deliverables, mentoring staff, keeping up certifications, meeting referrers, courting prospects, writing articles, creating blogs, speaking to the media and engaging followers on social media are all in a day’s work. Every professional finds his/her coping strategy for slugging through the daily “to do” list. Client work rises to the top as it should. But, what happens to the marketing stuff?

In working with professional service providers, we have found the “check box” marketing mentality to be a fairly popular way to get all of the marketing tasks done. As your Outlook reminders “ding” in the background, you may be curious about this possible answer to your scheduling woes. Beware! You will surely conquer your marketing list, but that is about the only result you can expect from the “check box” mentality.

What is the “Check Box” Mentality?

The “check box” mentality turns the saying “Anything worth doing is worth doing well,” on its head. It involves completing a marketing task with the primary end goal being the completion of the marketing task. Check that box and move on to the next item! While shortening the “to do” list may feel spectacular in the moment, it is a sure-fire way to achieve a low return on marketing investment. Here are some examples of the “check box” mentality in action:

• Meeting just to meet: Partners and experienced professionals are typically tasked with cultivating relationships with providers of products and services who have the potential to refer new business. When the “check box” mentality is at play:

  • You meet with professionals who haven’t referred any work for years
  • You golf with your good friend who works in an unrelated business
  • You meet with someone who contacted you so they can sell you products or services and doesn’t have much interest in reciprocating

In each of these cases, the “meeting with a referral source” box can be checked, but it likely will not lead to any new referral business.

• Writing just to write: Writing online content that’s compelling, relevant and authentically helpful has become a critical component of most successful professional services firms’ marketing programs. While some professionals have an easier time with original thought leadership than others, there’s no getting around that generating quality content takes time. Warning signs of “check box” mentality when online content creation include:

  • Writing a blog post that’s under 300 words
  • Restating facts from a news article and not offering any value-added professional insight
  • Placing more importance on putting a period on the last sentence rather than writing a knock-out title and first paragraph to draw the reader further into the piece of content

Writing online content with the mindset of “getting it done” will not likely result in growing an engaged audience and generating interest in your firm and its services.

• Presenting just to presentWebinars can be a powerful marketing tool for showcasing knowledge and expertise around a particular topic. Software packages, such as GoToWebinar, make webinars easy to execute from a logistics standpoint.

The challenge lies in creating a presentation that is visually appealing and provides information that solves the pain of a target audience. Many professional service providers love the thought of doing a webinar but aren’t willing to put the time and effort into creating a marketing homerun. Are you guilty of any of the following “check the box” actions when it comes to marketing webinars?

  • Picking the subject based on what is easiest to put together as opposed to what would be the most relevant to potential clients
  • Finding a way to outsource part or all of the presentation to a guest presenter
  • Dismissing the importance of having engaging visuals and opting for lots of boring bullet points instead

Webinars have the potential to generate warm leads if the content is compelling and relevant for a targeted audience. It’s a lost opportunity when professionals fall victim to simply “checking the box.”

Whether you do two or 20 marketing activities throughout the year, ensure that you are maximizing your non-billable hours by giving each and every endeavor the thought, time and attention necessary to make it a success. It’s never enough to simply “check the box.” Establishing key performance indicators for your marketing projects will help avoid this trap and keep you focused on driving results. Any market task worth doing is worth doing right!

New call-to-action