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Marketing management

Consultancy marketing’s 3-star rating (and how to improve yours)

Most consulting firms rate their marketing efforts a mere 3 stars out of five. How could consultancy marketers change this, and improve? We recommend these 5 steps:

The numbers are in – and they’re not pretty: As per SPI Research’s most recent “Professional Services Maturity Index,” consulting firms are rating the effectiveness of their marketing functions at a mere 62.5 percent – or three stars out of five.

Should marketers be content with this? And how could they improve their function’s effectiveness if they were to try?


In this post:

  1. The stats behind three stars
  2. But… why push to improve?
  3. 5 steps to high effectiveness
  4. The tl;dr (our conclusion)

The stats behind three stars

First, let’s review the data: The report is very clear about how the state of marketing in the professional services sector, while not entirely terrible, still leaves much to be desired.

The benchmark found that the – self-reported – effectiveness of firms’ marketing efforts has been “flat:” it fell from 3.25 points (out of 5) in 2018 to a mere 3.12 in 2021 and there rose again to 3.24 in ’22.

“1 in 4 firms thinks their marketing is a waste of money”

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Not the best result in times when business is slowing for consultancies, and firms need a function capable of creating demand.

Even worse though: While over a third of respondents considered their campaigns to be effective or very effective, almost as many believed their campaigns to be ineffective or very ineffective – or, in short:

1 in 4 firms thinks their marketing is a waste of money.

Item #1: The numbers are in – and they’re not pretty: Self-ratings of consultancy marketing effectiveness hover at the 60-percent mark. Source: SPI Research.

But… why push to improve?

Aren’t firms growing regardless?

Well, yes, they do. But how much faster could they do so (and how much more profitably!) if their marketing efforts were much more effective?

The stats in the SPI Research report indicate just how strongly marketing effectiveness correlates with better business metrics:

Firms that reported higher marketing effectiveness also reported a 32 percent stronger sales pipeline, a 28 percent higher win rate, and 50 percent (!) higher EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization).*

So, do we have a case here, or what?

Item #2: Faster growth, higher margins – high-performing firms prove there’s a throughline from marketing effectiveness to business results.

5 steps to high effectiveness

If “yes,” then let’s discuss the steps you could take to increase marketing effectiveness… per our view here at client fr