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April 24, 2014

‘Tis the Season to be Budgeting

Yes, it’s that most wonderful time of the year again, budgeting season—something to squeeze in among other merrier, turn-of-the-year activities. So we’ve decided to use this month’s Big Idea to share the most popular items many of our clients and prospects are putting on their project wish lists for 2012 and beyond. If you want to plug in the numbers, call us and we can give you a dollar figure within hours. Here’s what’s on the shopping lists we’ve seen in a flurry of year-end RFPs and other inquiries. Hum along to the titles if it gets you in the budgeting mood (or not):

All I want for Christmas is my new web site, my new web site…

If your website is more than three years old, you’re probably out of step with changes in search engine optimization and design opportunities created by improved coding technologies. Not to mention evolving best practices in content, content management, navigation, information design and web visitor expectations. If your site is four or five years old, you’re way overdue for something new. Already have a shiny new site? Don’t forget practice, industry or thought leadership microsites add-ons as part of your overall integrated digital approach.

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, websites visible on my phone…

As we wrote in a Big Idea two issues ago, all the data shows that smart phone adoption in the business world is pervasive. Problem is, more than likely, your desktop website isn’t suitable for viewing on a mobile device. Think about the bottom lines of an eye exam and you’ll get the picture. Have you launched a mobile version of your site? Steve Jobs was not alone imagining a world beyond the desktop. The future is present. Time to get with the times.

Do you hear what I hear? Do you see what I see?

The Great Recession dealt a body blow to recruiting but the demand is coming back for recruiting sites and persuasive collateral materials that speak to today’s young professionals. We’re reading in the consulting and accounting trades about a renewed war for talent. Who would have thought? Nothing previews a firm’s personality better than video—not talking heads but creative video that appeals to all our senses. We’re also seeing smart firms adopt video in professional biographies, on industry pages, thought leadership centers and more. Read: video is not just for the campus audience.

The weather outside is frightful and my collateral is not so delightful…

If you’ve promised yourself to shape up your brochures, improve yourproposals or make over ppt pitch material—rewriting, redesigning—then this is your year. Chances are that things have changed and new things have happened in the past few years in your organization, so why shouldn’t your collateral evolve with them? Speaking of evolution, it’s more than likely that your approach to collateral is text-based. And that needs to change. Research tells us that long-winded narratives—on the Web or in print—don’t get read. We’re all scanners these days. One way to respect scanners is to deliver substantive information in tables, charts, graphs, lists, process diagrams, illustrations or photographs.

Should old acquaintances be forgot and never brought to mind…

While the great recession led to a regression in advertising spending by most B2B and professional service firms, this does not mean awareness and preference building challenges have lessened. Recently, we’re seeing new interest in advertising, but it is not returning in the same way: that is, print-only campaigns are going the way of the printing press. Online Adwords campaigns (SEM) and banner advertising are now integrated with offline print (which should still be part of your mix). We’re also seeing smart use of radio, including, but not limited to, public radio sponsorships. Savvy firms are also using surprisingly affordable cable TV spots. Billboards and other out-of-home displays are also value buys this season. Yes, image and general awareness campaigns are still important, but equal dollars are now being spent in industry and service specific areas, closer to the leads. Of course, you can also advertise the unique events you wish to promote—the signature seminars, webinars and tradeshows where you can earn awareness and profile your stars.

These are a few of my favorite…clients

You should also consider reviving that annual review to bring clients up-to-date with changes in your organization since your targets last received an updated portrait. If you’ve not done an annual before, we recommend one highly and publish our own each year. The more creative your approach to describing your work, the more appealing you will appear both as an expert and as a business professional. The best annuals serve as temporal firm brochures. They can compliment a firm profile or, if budgets restrict more than one piece, serve as the one and only organizational overview.

So that’s our list. Check it twice as you make your own. And enjoy the season.

©2013 Greenfield/Belser Ltd.

About the Author

Joe Walsh, Greenfield Belser Ltd, professional services marketer
Principal

Joe is a life-long professional services marketer. Based near Boston, he is a principal and creative director with Greenfield/Belser Ltd., offering clients a wealth of sophisticated brand positioning, market research, creative development and media planning skills.

Before joining Greenfield/Belser in 2002, he was Arthur Andersen’s global creative director—managing an in-house creative team, outside agencies and a $100 million global branding budget. Joe was one of only a handful of firm partners who was not a consulting, accounting or tax professional.  Prior to...

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