One of the fundamental problems that exists with marketing in most sectors, and in professional service firms more than most, is that it is relatively easy to acquire the trappings of marketing but very difficult to instil the substance. At its present stage of development within the professions, marketing is still very much at the ‘trappings’ end of the spectrum.
The trappings of marketing in the professional service context may be seen as the glossy brochures, the PR consultants, the new corporate identity, the advertising campaign and, in some cases, even the marketing manager or marketing assistant. The cost associated with all of these items may well be tens or even hundreds of thousands of pounds and will represent a sizable marketing budget for most PSFs.
Alone, the trappings of marketing are unlikely to have a significant impact upon the amount of business a PSF does or, more importantly, the way in which it does it. The substance of marketing may be seen as the implementa¬tion of the marketing concept; that is developing a market orientation that is recognized, shared and constantly worked at by all the members of the firm. The financial cost of achieving this ‘substance’ of marketing is likely to be less than that of achieving the trappings mentioned above. However, achieving a market orientation and developing a client focus throughout the firm is likely to take a lot longer to implement than the trappings. Perhaps more importantly, achieving a market orientation calls for organization-wide changes in structure, culture, management philosophy and the way in which the firm interacts with the marketplace it serves.
The costs of developing a market-oriented firm are far more important in terms of professional and employee adaptation to the change involved rather than any financial costs that may be incurred. If marketing is to evolve beyond the trappings stage, however, and the goal of becoming market-led, to which so many firms and professionals pay lip-service, is to become achievable, then the issues of implementation and the management of change in the profes¬sional service context need to move to the top of the management agenda. Sarah loves writing for basketball lines and other sports and business sites.