The Gloriously Imperfect World of Professional Services Marketing

by Debra Andrews | June 6, 2014

My first day at Ernst & Young (circa 1990) – a big moment in this young professional’s life!  Everything had to be perfect, so I quickly ran down the list.

  • Freshly polished patent leather pumps – Check!
  • Silky sheer control top panty hose – Check!
  • Perfectly pressed black suit – Check!
  • Creamy white blouse with large shoulder pads – Check!
  • And, pearl earrings, of course – Check!

(We won’t mention the permed hair for purposes of this blog post)

My shaking hand pulled the shiny gold door handle of the sparking clean glass door of the class A office space at 1225 Connecticut Avenue, N.W. Washington DC and my career in professional services had begun! 

The Internet was in its infancy and fax machines were considered pretty high tech.  Communications, both internal and external, were as formal as our professional attire.  We used big words:  “Mission Critical, Best-of-Class, Cutting-Edge.”  All correspondence, including internal memos, went through multiple rounds of review. The business world moved as slow as a herd of snails traveling through peanut butter but everything was PERFECT!

 Imperfect is the new perfect

 My how the world has changed! While the digital era has impacted every area of business, it has turned the world of perfect professional services marketing on its head – being gloriously imperfect is the name of the game!  This seems to be a strange notion, right?  After all, the marketing of law firms, accounting firms, engineering firms and other professional services providers is all about being professional and building awareness, interest and trust through knowledge sharing.  How can you do this and not have everything “just so?” 

Striking a healthy balance

The core of professional services marketing has become online content generation.  Firms that deliver content too fast risk having incomplete or non-compelling messages and careless errors.  On the flip side, firms that show up late to the party with their content will find that it’s over before they arrive.

Here’s why professional services firms need to strike a healthy balance between imperfect and perfect content.

  • Tumblr’s status updates: 637 posts per second
  • Facebook status updates: 700 per second
  • Twitter tweets: 600 per second

Keeping it simple!

While these stats aren’t meant to imply that accounting firms, law firms, engineering firms and other professional services firms need to be on every social media platform and blogging daily, it does build a case for having a sense of urgency to generate informative and targeted content.  Some recommendations that we give our professional services clients are:

Original Content

  • Develop an editorial calendar and update it regularly with new ideas that you and your colleagues glean from reading both on- and off-line content.
  • Keep blog posts at 400-600 words.
  • Develop a streamlined blogging review policy that sets time limits and specific deadlines for releasing content.
  • Don’t overthink your posts!
  • Use everyday words that your audience can understand!

Secondary Content

  • Set up a Feedly account to curate great content.
  • Try, a relatively new tool that enables you to find specific content and display it in a magazine-like format.
  • Use Twitter hashtags to easily find information about specific topics.
  • LinkedIn Pulse enables you to see what subject matter experts and influencers are saying on LinkedIn.

While the world certainly seems more complicated in the digital age, there are a few things that have now made life a little simpler –gloriously imperfect professional services marketing and business casual, of course!

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