Get in Contact

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Groundbreaking survey by the Managing Partners’ Forum, the Professional Marketing Forum and Elephant Creative is out now!

A major benchmarking survey has confirmed that despite all the recent advances in digital and social technologies, face-to-face contact remains firmly the most important mode of communication for professional services firms. Many respondents – particularly those who do not see themselves as digital experts – even went so far as to say that these advances make face-to-face contact more important than before, rather than becoming substitutes for it, as had been widely predicted.

Meanwhile, responses from the 190 senior managers and marketing professionals who took part in the survey strongly suggest that social media technologies are less important than other major modes of communications, despite the current hype around them.

The survey also clarifies how professional services firms see digital and social technologies as business development and client handling tools. For example:

  • Most respondents do not expect rapid growth in the use of LinkedIn and Twitter to continue in their firms (although usage of YouTube is to increase from 45 per cent to 68 per cent in the next year).
  • 95 per cent of respondents see building brand and image as a major application for digital and social technologies, and 85 per cent believe the same of attracting new clients. Retaining existing clients (65 per cent) and client care (21 per cent) are comparatively less important
  • Twitter is seen as an outward marketing tool, whereas LinkedIn is seen as a business intelligence and research tool
  • The jury is still out over whether, even in today’s environment, digital and social technologies are integral to marketing activities, with only 51 per cent believing that they are an essential precondition of successful marketing

Richard Chaplin, Founder and CEO of the Managing Partners’ Forum, comments:

“We believe that this survey breaks new ground by putting these technologies and their applications for businesses into a proper context. They have changed the way we do business to some extent, but it is important to remember that in many ways the old staples – especially meeting face-to-face – remain as important as they ever were.”

Richard adds:

“Many firms are scrambling to jump onto the digital and social media bandwagon, but in many cases their use is haphazard. When properly managed, they can be invaluable tools in the pursuit of carefully considered goals, yet thus far there are very few guides on how to do this. Our project combines insight from the top of the professional services industries to go some way towards addressing this gap in know-how.”

Helen Hammond, Managing Director at Elephant Creative and lead author of the report, observes that:

“This report clearly shows that when it comes to understanding the importance placed on digital and social media technologies, and the contribution these tools can make to achieving strategic objectives, there is a significant disparity between so-called digital experts and those less familiar with the technologies. Whilst this is not entirely unexpected or surprising, this should not be overlooked as stating the obvious.

She adds:

“If they are not closed, these understanding and belief gaps will result in eventual failure where the implementation of effective and coherent digital and social practices is concerned. Addressing this point should be prioritised as a key area for action and change in firms of all sizes.”

Details of survey sample

  • 190 in-house people; 82 per cent UK-based
  • 49 per cent management team; 45 per cent marketing experts
  • Digital expertise: 24 per cent experts; 64 per cent working knowledge; 15 per cent novices
  • Firm footprint: 47 per cent global; 15 per cent capital city; 16 per cent national; 22 per cent regional
  • Firm sector: 46 per cent law; 21 per cent accountancy; 16 per cent consultancy; 9 per cent property