The future looks bright for the professional services sector. Growth is coming at a time when artificial intelligence, the millennial generation and transnational outsourcing dominate boardroom conversations.

    Two Shape surveyed leading businesses in the professional services sector with the aim to uncover their prevailing marketing practices and challenges. We coupled the findings with a literature review of best growth marketing practices and emerging trends from around the world. From the insights mined, we develop a growth marketing model designed to help professional services providers distinguish themselves from the competition. Above all is to ensure they do not slide down the slippery slope of price and service competition.

    Objectives of the Research

    The objectives of the research were three-fold;

    Identify the application of social
    and digital media marketing in the sector
    Identify the growth marketing challenges
    businesses in the sector experience
    Recommend a growth marketing
    strategy built on Value Innovation

    The Key Findings & Recommendations

    1. Referrals still dominate business development

    9 in 10 businesses rely on referrals and networking as a source of business. Relationships, reputation and goodwill dominate the landscape. There is absolutely nothing wrong with these, but they cap the business’ potential growth. With the incidence of online sourced businesses hugely small, it can be hypothesised social and digital media marketing’s contribution to business growth has not been fully exploited.

    2. Time and resources continue to hinder progress

    Time is the most often cited marketing challenge. It’s time to plan and do it well. Almost 2 in 5 feel time is an impediment. In addition, 2 in 5 business owners / partners / CEOs of SMEs undertake this task themselves. Add to this, over 1 in 2 assign it to employee(s) who have other non-marketing responsibilities in the business. With other tasks and responsibilities and a lower importance, it will be difficult to develop effective marketing.

    3. Value innovation needs to be at the forefront

    Most companies focus on matching and beating their rivals. As a result, their strategies tend to take on similar dimensions. What ensues is head-to-head competition based largely on incremental improvements in cost, quality, or both. The professional services industry is highly competitive – small areas of differentiation will not set you apart. There needs to be a shift in focus to value innovation.

    4. Thought leadership & developing influence will set you apart

    Establishing Thought Leadership is more than just differentiation. It is to establish your business as the only choice, provided the value innovation will make a positive impact on the lives of your target audience. Businesses who think deeply about the value they provide to the customer and methodically share value will continue to win.

    “Australia is fast on its way to becoming a professional services nation – the business services sector is becoming more important to the economy and a much larger employer, as industry becomes increasingly specialised and more willing to have non-core work done by external providers.”

    – By Edmund Tadros, Financial Review

    Research Team

    Russell Smith

    Founder & CEO

    Mark Amin

    Head of Customer Strategy & Insights
    The ideas and work Two Shape bring to our business are cutting edge.
    Rohan Milne
    Founder at Rohan Jewellers
    Two Shape are leading-edge thinkers. If you are looking for something new and better in growth marketing, they bring it.
    Rob Pyne
    CEO at HPH Solutions
    We needed a sophisticated marketing team to help us get to growth mode. The ROI is already there.
    Peter Winnall
    Managing Director at Rekon Group