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Recently, with what I thought was reasonable clarity, I made a decision to attend an event....


This week, after having attended the event, I realized that it actually "cost" me more -- not in money, but in the expenditure of personal energy -- to attend than I had originally thought it would. I regretted my decision. I vowed to myself that I'll make a better decision next time.
Wouldn't you know it, I now see several blog posts about the impact of decisions on business success and the exceedingly nuanced question, "What will it 'cost' me if I make this decision?"
Clients making decisions: Just as I fooled myself into thinking I had made a good decision, so too with clients, who may not fully understand the real reasons why they decide to purchase our services or to discontinue them. It's up to us to understand the basis of their decision-making.
Two blog posts offer interesting perspectives.
Michelle Golden urges professional service firms to do a better job of understanding the real reasons why clients decide to switch their loyalties. Her post debunks the notion that we should accept at face value the reasons we lose or upset clients.
David Maister touches on the topic as well, in his post about getting honest feedback, and that people's feelings play a lot more into their decisions than they let on.
Making decisions for our own firms: I could spend the next week bemoaning the number of times I've seen professional service firms make horrifyingly bad marketing management decisions. I'll bet you could offer millions more examples. Thankfully, some thought leaders are trying to get to the bottom of the decision-making conundrum. I found two articles, from respected management consultancies Booz Allen Hamilton and Bain & Company, both on decision-making.
The latest issue of Booz Allen's strategy + business features an article "Why Managing by Facts Works." The authors say that executives too often ignore the facts, and make "gut" business decisions based on fads or hunches. They say that evidence-based management leads to competitive advantage.
Bain's latest results brief features an article "Who has the 'D'?" The authors examine the findings of their study that only 15% of surveyed companies practice effective decision-making. Interestingly, they found that high-performing companies do fairly well in making brand positioning decisions.
If you're in a marketing leadership role at your professional service firm, I encourage you to dig deeper when participating in critical marketing decisions. Ask yourselves how honest you are being -- or others are being with you. Examine more than just the shallow areas of impact -- like money or resource allocations -- of your firm's marketplace decisions. Ask about the other areas of "cost" to you or your firm if those decisions don't pan out.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Suzanne Lowe is founder of Expertise Marketing, LLC and author of The Integration Imperative: Erasing Marketing and Business Development Silos – Once and For All – in Professional Service Firms and Marketplace Masters: How Professional Services Firms Compete to Win. She blogs at the MarketingProfs Daily Fix and her own blog, the Expertise Marketplace.

Before founding Expertise Marketing in 1996, Ms. Lowe spent more than a decade leading the marketing programs for top-tier management consulting and business-to-business organizations. Before that, she spent more than a decade managing and implementing strategies for political candidates and organizations.

She spearheads the only widely disseminated research initiative on strategic marketing perceptions, practices and performance of professional service firms around the globe.

In addition, Suzanne Lowe has written or been quoted in nearly 100 articles on the topic of professional services marketing strategy. Her work has appeared in the a rel="nofollow" href="https://harvardbusinessonline.hbsp.harvard.edu/b01/en/hbr/hbr_home.jhtml">Harvard
Business Review, BusinessWeek.com, CMO Magazine, Harvard
Management Update
, and scores of profession-specific magazines and journals, including MarketTrends, Marketer, Marketing the Law Firm, Accounting Today, Engineering, Consultants News, Structure, Journal of Law Office Economics and Management, The Practicing CPA, Environmental Design and Construction, Massachusetts High Tech, Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, and the Legal Marketing Association’s Strategy. She is a contributor to the second edition of the book Marketing
Professional Services
, by Kotler, Hayes and Bloom. She has also been instrumental in the development, writing and publication of five books and nearly 50 articles and book chapters for her consulting clients.

Suzanne speaks regularly around the world to leading trade associations, industry groups and in-house firm audiences. Her work has also been presented internationally, most recently at the American Marketing Association's annual Frontiers in Services conference. She facilitates a Roundtable of Chief Marketing Officers from some of the world's largest and most prestigious professional service firms. She has guest-lectured at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business and designs and delivers customized executive education programs in marketing for professional service executives.

She advises the leaders of professional service firms, from small start-up practices to large global organizations.

Ms. Lowe received a B.A. from Duke University.