The world of professional services marketing is not generally known for early adoption of cutting-edge marketing techniques.

As I see it, there is one underlying reason: Professional services practitioners (notably lawyers) exist largely as a safe haven for their clients. Their role is to help their clients reduce risk and navigate uncertainty in the turbulent seas of the business world.

So it's not surprising that the culture of professional services businesses tends to approach the ever-changing world of "new" or "digital" marketing (including social media and mobile platforms) with some caution. For professions meant to provide stability to clients, tweeting, and commenting in an online mosh pit are not activities that come naturally.

Rather, marketers in the white-collar professions are far more likely to hear skepticism than excitement within their firms about adopting a new, digital services marketing strategy or tools. We've all heard variations on this theme:

  • "How many clients did you actually get out of that blog post?"
  • "Who really pays attention to LinkedIn?"
  • "I don't want anyone I don't know contacting me."
  • "I don't know what a tweeter is and I don't want to find out."

The fact is, it is counterproductive to think of digital/social/mobile marketing efforts as something newfangled and scary. Though in many cases such tools are new and cutting-edge (note the meteoric rise of the use of Pinterest), the proper approach to them is to embrace the world of change and consider this embrace as completely normal. Why? Well, for example...

  • 53% of in-house lawyers—the target market for law firms—are reading daily general business media on their smartphones. ("2013 In-House Counsel New Media Engagement Survey," Greentarget, InsideCounsel, Zeughauser Group.)
  • A practitioner's content marketing is trusted more than third-party rankings. ("2013 In-House Counsel New Media Engagement Survey," Greentarget, InsideCounsel, Zeughauser Group.)
  • Only 16% of networked users are on Twitter, which means that many Twitter content generators are the "digerati," or subject matter experts or journalists. In other words, it's good to hang with these key influencers to build your professional reputation. (Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project, 2013.)
  • 91% of US mobile device users have their mobile device within reach 24/7. These users are accustomed to consuming bite-size pieces of content while on the run. (Morgan Stanley.)
  • From 2011 to 2012, LinkedIn's membership grew 45% worldwide, and 39% of members in 2012 had the title Manager, Director, Owner, Chief Officer, or Vice-President. It's a growing directory of potential clients, colleagues, and referral sources. (LinkedIn Ad Platform via Amodiovalerio Verde.)

If this is the "new normal," then it requires a change of thinking and of habit on the part of professional services marketers and their firms.

In a series of three articles on this subject, I'll share some guidelines to make sure that a professional service firm's digital marketing efforts are as effective as possible. This first installment focuses on the importance of creating marketing "campaigns."

Stop Thinking 'Blast'; Think 'Campaign'

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image of Nicholas A. Kosar

Nicholas Kosar manages marketing campaigns for an AmLaw 100 law firm in Washington, DC. Prior to his work in the professional services sector, he was in book, magazine, and digital publishing.

LinkedIn: Nick Kosar

Twitter: @nakosar