(Originally Posted by Deltek on April 11, 2022)
Hinge Research Institute studies high growth professional services firms and their clients analyzing marketplace trends to discover why some firms grow much faster than average and are more profitable. We are excited to partner with Hinge Research Institute to bring Deltek Project Nation the key industry benchmarks for professional services firms.
Did you know that high growth consulting firms spent 33% less on marketing than their low-growth peers last year? It seems counterintuitive, but there are good reasons why. The recently completed 2022 Hinge High Growth Study surveyed over 450 professional services firms, including some of the fastest-growing firms in the world. The results show that firms are no longer concerned about an uncertain future, they’re now focused on taking the actions necessary to implement new technological solutions to manage future growth.
When reviewing the results of this year’s study, Hinge discovered four key advantages that stood out for successful high growth consulting firms (those that grew more than 20%) vs low to no-growth firms: Technology, Talent, Marketing, and Strategy.
Let’s Unlock the 4 Key Advantages:
High growth professional services firms have a significant advantage relating to the adoption and implementation of business software and automation products. High growth professional services firms reported higher levels of automation maturity, enabling them to support service delivery at a higher rate.
While workflow and process automation tools are hot topics with no growth firms, high growth firms have given software solutions a central role in their overall strategy, propelling their success.
The use of Web conferencing, email marketing, and CRM systems also have a strong correlation with growth. High growth professional services firms use CRMs 37% more than no-growth firms. This allows them to better track sales pipelines and tailor and automate the delivery of more relevant content to their prospective clients.
People are at the heart of any professional services organization, and not being able to find, hire and retain the right talent can pose a huge challenge. High growth firms have an advantage here, however, there is still an increase of concern around the shortage of top talent. Most high growth firms listed it as one of the top anticipated business challenges in the next 3-5 years. The results of the 2022 study showed that high growth firms have a small but consistent advantage in critical marketing and business development skills such as data analytics, SEO, and social media as shown in the chart below.
In addition, one avenue high growth firms are capitalizing on is outside talent in the form of agencies and freelancers. Retaining outside talent can be a flexible alternative to hiring, and is especially true for more specialized skills such as SEO, graphic design, or research.
41% of high growth firms said that creating content was the top marketing priority for 2022. Kelly J. Waffle, Managing Director of Hinge Research Institute, states that the key reason for content creation being the leader is still around differentiation. Professional services firms need to be able to differentiate their services and gain a competitive edge in the market. The fastest-growing professional services firms have known for years the important role that high-quality content creation plays in marketing and establishing them as credible thought leaders.
Counterintuitively, according to the 2022 report the fastest growing professional services firms spend 33% less money on marketing than their no-growth peers.
It seems these consulting firms have cracked the code by spending a smaller percentage on marketing while getting better results and making a bigger impact from the techniques they use. When we look at the top 10 most impactful techniques, we notice that high growth consulting firms get much greater impact from three specific techniques:
- Keyword research/search engine optimization (SEO)
- Conducting and publishing original research
- Networking on social media
Their ability to be efficient also comes from a strong investment in strategy and having a systematic approach to using the most efficient marketing tactics to reach their buyers at every touchpoint in their buying journey. Furthermore, their investment in automation tools allows them to measure ROI more quickly and accurately.
The survey makes it clear that smaller firms are focused on competitors and a changing demand profile. However, high-growth firms are focused on how to analyze and improve processes and delivering more value to their clients. For example, High Growth firms do more research on their target audiences to win more business.
Similarly, their greater focus on automation maturity likely reduces their concern around its potential as a threat. 38.2% of high growth firms that participated in the study stated that they wanted to learn more about workflow & process automation this year. During Unlock the 4 Key Advantages of High-Growth Consultancies webinar, we posed this same question to attendees and the results mirrored the study, with 37.5% of the attendees noting that workflow and process automation was a top area of focus in 2022, aligning with the study’s results.
So How Do You Put Data From the Hinge High Growth Study to Work?
Take the time to access what your firm is doing in these categories. High growth professional services firms are not waiting for difficult marketplace conditions to pass before they implement change. Instead, they are working to stay ahead of the curve and utilizing the power of technology and automation tools to help them achieve impressive growth rates without sacrificing profitability. The marketplace moves fast, so keeping up with best practices has never been more important.
Download the Hinge High Growth Study to use its data as your guide to transforming your professional services firm into one of the fastest-growing in the industry.
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