Marketing The Professional Services - Part 2
In the first article of this series, (The Drum 18 January 2002) we found that an overall communication policy can prevent fragmentation of communication. It will also provide greater effectiveness and efficiency in getting the message across.
Barry Jackson, independent consultant with Clifford Chance, said: \"If we are to present a seamless global service to clients, it is essential that we have a key message which comes through in all our communications and is easy to recognise.\"
Vincent Gray, business development manager with Masons Solicitors, agrees. He is responsible for the information technology practice areas across the UK: \"We want to be seen as the market leader in our chosen areas of expertise. Having a consistent message is the main benefit of an overall communication policy.\"
Having a communication policy also solves practical problems, as Jackson explains: \"The firm uses a wide range of communication tools. People working in new media may develop different tools than people working in more conventional areas. Although the communication contents can change, the policy ensures the key message remains the same.\"
Cleopatra Veloutsou, lecturer in marketing at the University of Glasgow, says: \"There is a lot of short-term opportunism. Companies have to adapt constantly. Brand managers change every two to three years. Newcomers may want to make changes, but without direction they cannot evolve the brand consistently.\"
A communication policy which integrates all forms of communication requires careful preparation and planning. While this will offer better long-term results, marketing people in the professional services industry have also found that it invokes a more professional approach to communication. This approach assists them in winning the respect of their colleagues. Joan Roemmele, marketing manager with DM Hall and committee member of the Professional Services Marketing Group, explains: \"Marketing people in professional services firms often feel they have to prove themselves and show that what they are doing is worthwhile.\"
Where do they begin? Gray says: \"The starting point of our communication policy is the firm\'s business strategy.\"
Most successful organisations have translated their business or organisational objectives in shared communication principles or common values. These work as yardsticks and form the basis of the organisation\'s communications.
John Bunn, UK head of media relations with PricewaterhouseCoopers, says: \"Everything should fit within the framework of our policy. If not, we should be asking ourselves why we are doing it.\"
For services firms these yardsticks usually concern their reputation. Bunn says: \"We trade on our reputation as the market leader. We must look after that. Everything we say is related to that.\" Roemmele says: \"We have a strong brand as a result of our reputation, which in itself was created by adhering to high standards. When people see our name, they know they will get quality.\"
The successful implementation of the communication policy by deploying common principles or values depends on the involvement of the senior management of the firm and the involvement of staff. It is, for example, important that the principles or values are carried by senior partners and agreed by all partners, managers or department heads.
Barry Jackson: \"It is not a big brother thing. We\'re dealing with professionals. We can\'t prescribe to them what to do. Our task is to make information available and present it in a such a way that people want to use the information. They should not have the impression they are fighting the system.\"
Agreement on policy, principles and values can be laid down in a communication programme for all internal and external audiences. This document can also review the communication strategy of individual business units. As these units tend to work with their own set of services and audiences, a general proposition (promise), proof and tone of voice for each unit is formulated. Furthermore, this programme defines for every audience what has to be achieved in terms of changes in the audience\'s knowledge, opinion (attitude) and behaviour (intentions).
The programme is executed by means of projects. Sandra Mohabir-Collins is lecturer in marketing at the Paisley Business School of the University of Paisley. She believes: \"One of the most important things to do in the preparation of any project is to sit down with your teams and discuss what you want to get out of it.\"
The type and format of these projects relate to the sort of communication which is conducted. Professor Cees van Riel, director of the Corporate Communication Center at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam, distinguishes between three different kinds of communication - management, organisational and marketing communication (see Cees van Riel and Wally Olins, Principles of Corporate Communication, Prentice Hall, 1995).
In Van Riel\'s view, management communication takes place between senior management and internal and external audiences. Organisational communication includes public relations and public affairs, investor relations, corporate advertising and internal communication. Marketing communication is used to promote products and services and includes advertising, direct marketing (or direct mail), personal sales, publicity and sales promotions.
Van Riel defines corporate communication as the management tool with which, in the most effective and efficient manner, all forms of internal and external communication are integrated and fine-tuned so that a positive relationship is created with all audiences to which an organisation is related.
In the third article of this series we will examine in greater detail how successful firms utilise this idea of corporate communication and implement their communication policy by means of specific projects.