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I started out thinking that that Client Science, by Rachel Killeen was a book for fee-earners.  One to ‘make them read’.  But as I started reading it properly I found myself scribbling down notes and adding points to client strategy meeting agendas.  I even found myself working through the process with my own consultancy business.  Frankly, if a book can make an old cynic like me sit up and (literally) take notes… it has to be worth a look.

The book is essentially a guide to creating an effective marketing strategy that differentiates your firm from the competition.  It packages a number of really superb suggestions for tackling the process within a structure that Killeen refers to as the ‘5 Cs – Collate, Create, Communicate, Collaborate and Calculate’.  In truth this feels less of a revelation than a contrivance for writing a book.  However, it should in no way detract from what is actually one of the most practically useful marketing guides for professionals that I have ever had the pleasure to read.

The first of Killeen’s brainwaves comes in the form of the ‘Action SWOT’.  Admit it… how many of us have included a SWOT analysis within a strategy without really thinking about how we’ll use these SWOTs to develop the business?  Killeen advocates a two-stage process (with a fantastically clear case study included) whereby you first analyze and then set out actions relating to each point.  Ingenious.  We’re all now ashamed that we didn’t think of it, aren’t we?

There is then a solid path through topics like setting up your pipeline, competitor analysis, elements of professional services that clients value (not that we’ll actually believe her because we all doggedly maintain that ‘legal prowess’ is the key value, don’t we…), as well as rules for managing clients.

Killeen’s second brainwave is the way in which she unashamedly discusses the importance of profitability, rather than fee-income.  It’s a theme that runs, quite rightly, through everything that she suggests.  In fact, her closing chapter (looking at measuring ROI) is underpinned by her belief in profitability as one of the fundamentals.  If we take only one point away from this book perhaps it should be the relevance that profitability needs to pay in our marketing plans?

Her style of writing is refreshingly plain English and the book includes a number of chapters that are packed full of ideas and suggestions for activity.  It’s all so logical.  She suggests that we should start by analyzing client ‘touch points’ and work from there.  Her discussion of branding comes the closest I’ve seen to actually explaining it properly, as do her recommendations relating to client relationship development.

For those really interested in learning about the ‘action’ stage of the marketing plan, Killeen does not disappoint.  The book concludes with a clever romp through the marketing mix, including tips for networking, asking for referrals (how about adding a request to our email footers… are we brave enough for that yet?), preparation steps for sales meetings, as well as a great section on copywriting tips and writing press releases.  The now expected section on digital marketing and social media was, in truth, a little thin, but Killeen rapidly made up for it with two more than excellent sections on collaboration and measuring ROI.

In short, I would go so far as to say that this book is essential reading for any professional services marketer… and if you can get your marketing partner to read it, so much the better.